Log-book: November 2002

  The solitude or the dying  Father Abbot Grégoire 
  The prayer of the monks   
  French Bibliography  Archives of Partenia 




The Bible

Special Edition

The solitude of the dying

During a gathering, an activist came up and said to me that Antoine was in hospital seriously ill. He would like me to visit him. The name Antoine didn't seem familiar to me but I took down his name and address.

In the huge hospital, I finally found his room. His wife recognized me and was delighted of my visit. Antoine also recognized me and smiled. He looked yellow, his eyes were yellow and his stomach was swollen.

He was very weak and could not talk anymore but his eyes were very expressive. They tell me more than words.

I put my hand in his hand and I say to him: " After all the battles you have fought, you are now facing the most difficult one". I said that because I understood Antoine did not have very long to live. Meanwhile, his wife was on the telephone giving reassuring news of her husband. She was criticizing the nurses who do not visit him very often and not administering enough treatments. Fortunately she is there insisting for treatments for her husband!

dernière étape I am still holding Antoine's hand or maybe his hand is holding mine. This physical presence shows him that he is still part of the living. I will never forget his smile that was also a farewell. 

In the corridor, Antoine's wife caught up with me: " My husband is dying. We are not telling him because we do not want to frighten him. That is why on the telephone, in front of him, I was saying he was doing well. But nothing can be done for him now ". "I think Antoine knows the gravity of his state and he is preparing himself to die. Do not be afraid. He still needs you, of your tenderness to accompany him in his final journey".






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Father Abbot Grégoire
Abbé Grégoire A television crew was working on a documentary on the life of Father Abbot Grégoire, a great figure of the 1789 French Revolution; now his remains are resting in the Pantheon. An actor wearing a purple cassock, in the Gardens of Luxembourg, under a radiant sun, was playing the role of this man of God and wanted to know how the past enlightens the present.  
Father Grégoire was an advocate of Human Rights and especially of the oppressed minorities. He had defended the cause of the Jews trying to obtain full citizenship and that of the Black people wanting to be liberated from slavery. He also wanted his Church not to miss the great event that was the Revolution of 1789.

We then left to meet with the illegal refugees who greeted us with joy at the " House of Togetherness". We passed through the dormitories that also serve as a kitchen. They willingly accepted to speak of their lives, their fights and their endless wait for papers.
We shared their meal. There is no doubt that Father Grégoire would have liked to be at their side to defend them!   être à leurs côtés



The prayer of the monks

Like it is a custom every year, I go to the Turning Stone Abbey (La Pierre-qui-Vire) in Burgundy for a time of silence and prayer.

temps de silence The access to the Abbey is difficult for someone who doesn't have a car. After travelling by train and bus, I am greeted by a monk who is waiting for me and takes me aboard his car to drive me to the destination. 

After my arrival at the abbey, my first stop is to go to the refectory to shake hands with my friends who were delighted to meet me. The young newly named Father Abbot came without delay to my room. It is a pleasure to be with him. He asked me to speak in front of the chapter, to celebrate mass, to preach and to come to the Council for a coffee. I accepted readily to all his brotherly demands.

I like to participate in the prayers of the monks. A community in prayer always attracts me. The monks have a life of solitude without being isolated. Solitude is not isolation. To live isolated would be dangerous. Is solitude not this interior and mysterious place where God only can enter to stay in us? A solitude inhabited by God who waits and talks to our heart?

I am comforted to see monks all day and all night let God pray in them in solidarity with all their brothers in humanity.   dire une prière