Dear friends, We have come to the conclusion of the tercentenary of the death of Montfort. Since May 2015, we have had several activities, celebrations, exchanges as a part of the tercentenary year. One hundred years ago too, similar celebrations took place. But our Congregations have changed since. At that time, they were largely centred in Europe. Few lay people were involved in our projects. Today, I see people from all the continents. I see lay people happy to share in our spiritual life and participate in the project of our Montfortian family. I see our three Congregations gathered together to pray and to work around the world. Sometimes I ask myself: what will our Montfort family look like in 100 years, in 2116? The northern entities that have provided so many missionaries, who laid the foundation for what we are now, are in a precarious state. Several young entities are fragile shoots. What shall we do? Let us turn to Montfort, who prayed and even cried “Liberos! God our Father, remember your congregation that has been yours since the beginning. Liberos! Lord Jesus, give children to your mother! What is it that I ask of you? Slaves of your love and your will! Liberos! Holy Spirit, remember to produce and train children of God with your divine and faithful spouse, Marie” (P.E. 1, 6, 8, 15).
My friends, our strength is our faith in our “unfailing Father !” May there be an outburst of that faith of Montfort in our hearts!
Dear friends, we celebrate the 300 years of the death of Montfort. It is an opportunity to ask this question: What would have been Montfort without Marie-Louise? Not only she has supported him by her prayers and friendship, but she also taught him many things. If Montfort, with words of fire, preached the Gospel, Marie-Louise lived the Gospel with a few words but many concrete gestures. Acts of courage, generosity were without limit for the children whom the world forgets and marginalizes. What united Montfort and Marie-Louise deeply was a common love shared for God and for the poor and this friendship went above and surpassed beyond themselves. Montfort shouted: “Open to Jesus Christ!” Marie-Louise shouted: “If I were a piece of cloth, I would become a dress for the poor!” And both of them prayed: “O Wisdom come, the poor beggars pray, my friends, the greatest legacy which our founders have left for us is an immense love, a love that warms and illumines, a love that wants to embrace the whole world. And this incredible love of our founders illumines and shines in all our hearts.
Dear friends, what strikes me when I come to Pontchateau is these beautiful big trees around us. In the Bible, God said to his people: “I myself am like an evergreen cypress (Hosea 14: 9).” Green is the colour of life and the colour of hope. A great French poet Charles Peguy wrote, and I quote:
“Little hope walks between her two big sisters, faith and charity, and the two sisters are not only taking care of her, they give her so much attention to her, which is most urgent, nowadays.
We strongly believe that it is the two big persons who guide the small one.
But, on the contrary, it is hope that guides her big sisters. Without her, they would be nothing, because the two women are already aged. It is she, the little hope, which guides in everything, because faith can see only what is, but hope sees what will be, charity loves only what is, but hope loves what will be. “
My friends, I wish that all these celebrations will increase our hope, and help us rise above the challenges, failures, indifferences and aggressiveness. A strong hope, that sustains our faith, helps us to renounce everything; a strong hope nourishes us to the same source of love, so that we do not place ourselves at the centre of everything and so that we do not overlook the pain and the loneliness of others. With the help of the “little hope” our faith will dispel the darkness and our love will constantly be reborn in our hearts. Thus, the powerful hope of Montfort will shine in all our hearts.