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4 December

Saint John Damascene and John Calabria
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A yes that changes life

 

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Marcellin Champagnat

05/06/2005: France

It is written that life depends on two or three ‘Yeses’ or two or three ‘Nos’, said at the opportune moment. Marcellin proved this axiom.

Do you want to be a priest?
In France in the early 1800s, there was a boy who had worked out his dreams. But they didnt coincide with those that an “other” had for him. The boy was Marcellin; the other was God. A priest meets him and disrupts all of his plans: of a business, of money to be accumulated… Do you want to be priest? that travelling salesman of God asks him. Marcellin interrupts for an instant all his wanderings through the dreams that he has invented: and the beautiful sand castles that he has built collapse. He accepts the bet: risky, almost impossible to win; because he will have to face years of intense study. And he, throughout his fifteen years has totalled one day at school: only one! But if God calls him… Nothing is impossible to God. The greater struggle will be to convince others, not himself; those who tell him that this choice is impossible. But he, tenacious and stubborn as he is, looks straight ahead, casting the fears aside, preparing to set off on his new “dreams”, quite different from the preceding ones. A winning bet or a dangerous risk? The facts will say that it was right to answer yes to God who called him: He becomes a priest and what a priest he is!
He will never regret having taken the change in direction that God showed him.

There is a boy who is waiting for God
The young priest, sent to a forsaken suburb, doesnt know that he is about to do something great, because heaven has organised a new appointment for him: once more he answers yes.
A youth is dying and Marcellin races to prepare him for his meeting with God. But it is really close to the bed of Jean-Baptiste Montagne (the boy’s name) that his whole world stops for an instant. All the previous pieces of devastating experiences come together in this meeting of the suffering youth’s ransacked look and the young priest’s tormented soul; perhaps other emergencies, heavy with suffering, are pressing to be included on Marcellin’s agenda. Yes, this is one young person who is dying; but the whole society is dying: and no talisman or cosmetic surgery would ever suffice in curing it. That old idea that had made him look such a fool during his days at the seminary and had long since been relegated to the attic of his dreams, is now to be realised in history. “We need Brothers!” he had often daydreamed. But before the bed of this dying youth who knows nothing about the existence of God, he resolves, “There will be Brothers!”
It is his “yes” to God and to history.
He would have been able to analyse the needs by weighing the numbers and studying the statistics. But he did not do this, as there was no need! The disasters of the ideological tsunami were there, before his very eyes. This was not a time for theoretical analysis but for an operation of providing emergency aid: in short, another generous “yes”! And this is what Marcellin pronounced.
The magic of a monosyllable; “written” today on the whole planisphere!

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