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Fifteen days of prayer with Henri Vergès



New book of Br. Alain Delorme

26/02/2008: General House

In Paris, Monday, February 4, 2008, Brother Alain Delorme presented his book entitled Fifteen Days of Prayer with Henri Vergès, Marist Brother, Martyr of Algeria. The book is published by Nouvelle Cité.

The collection entitled Fifteen Days of Prayer with… comprises 119 titles. The book on Brother Henri is number 118. Number 39 of the series is Fifteen Days of Prayer with Marcellin Champagnat, by Brother Jean Roche. Brother Henri already featured in the series, because in volume nº 84, Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, he was the person referred to on day 8. Volume nº 102 has been consecrated to Brother Henri’s friend, the prior of the Tibhir-ine monastery, Christian de Chergé, who was killed along with six of his fellow monks.

As their titles suggest, the books are an invitation to the reader to pray with a saint or a Servant of God over fifteen days. In Henri Vergès’ case, readers can follow the various stages of his life in the notes which he wrote: the development of his religious life, his focus upon the Lord, filial love of the Virgin Mary, the presence of Marcellin Champagnat, the importance place which Algeria had in his heart: the country’s culture, people, religion.

We encounter a Brother who is attentive to his experiences, in accord with Mary’s way of living, she who kept “all these things in her heart and reflected on them.” We may be taken aback at the depth and clarity of Brother Henri’s reflections upon situations and people, his simple manner of looking at life, his practical behavior in which there prevailed respect and an ever-attentive charity. He is at peace as he grows in the ways of the first and second com-mandments. Through contact with Brother Henri we discover unique and rich aspects of a Marist Brother’s identity: faithful in difficult situations, announcing in prophet-like ways the world of tomorrow, the dialogue which will begin tomorrow. This is all a revelation that is good for us to encounter.

The book considers Brother Henri from the point of view of the Constitutions and the Founder. The text regards Brother Henri as one faithful to both, with a naturalness of manner, and under adult obedience which considers the Founder and the Constitutions as two paths leading to God and to the people of our world, two paths upon which liberty grows and develops.

The book is comprised of brief chapters of four or five pages per day of easy reading. The first page of a given day offers us one of Henri’s texts, while the second and third are reflections incorporating other quotations from the martyr. The final section for each day is an invitation to pray face-to-face, as it were, with the Servant of God.

The style of author, Brother Alain Delorme, helps make for easy reading: short, clear, cohesive sentences. Like waters of a quiet stream the words run smoothly together.

Although he lived twenty five years in Algeria (1968 to Mary 8, 1994, the day of his martyrdom) Brother Henri draws near to us in the text, as he lives situations which we know well and which are going to become ever more a feature of our world. He acted as a prophet and had a prophet’s spirituality. He was a pioneer in exploring the dialogue with the Moslem world, a dialogue which has merely begun. We get the impression that we could imitate him: Marist, simple.

Brother Giovanni Maria Bigotto, Postulator.

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