ONE OF THESE AUTUMN SUNDAYS, the first reading of the mass (Wis 6, 12-16) resonates strongly in me: “Wisdom allows itself to be found by those who seek it.
She anticipates their desires by making herself known first. Whoever looks for her at dawn will find her sitting at his door. » Is the Lord so close? Then I hear in the gospel read next: “In the middle of the night there was a cry: “Behold the bridegroom! go out to meet him. ”” (Mt 25:6). And here I am, taken back more than forty years.
At that time, I lived in Avignon where my first job took me. My parish is run by a small fraternity of religious people who are trying an experience of monastic life in an urban environment: morning and evening, they celebrate lauds and vespers in Saint Peter’s basilica, in addition to mass. On Saturdays or Sundays, I soon became one of the regulars who joined them at the end of the day, because what I discovered there amazed and nourished me: the service – a series of hymns, psalms, canticles from the New Testament – immerses me in the Word of God, carried by polyphonic singing. A celebration of the senses and the spirit. A powerful catechesis.
The monks were quick to spot my interest. “You could come one day to our Thursday night service, it’s very beautiful to pray for the world when the whole city is asleep,” one of them whispered to me. Get up to pray at four in the morning? The proposition repulses the fervent sleeper that I am. You have to ensure a day of work the next day, right? One Wednesday evening, however, I went to bed with a prayer: “Lord, if you want, wake me up. » And now I open one eye around 3:45 a.m.! Numb, I get dressed, run through the deserted streets. A song opens the service in the darkness of the church pierced by a few candles: “In the middle of the night, there was a cry: “Here is the bridegroom who comes! Go out to meet him. ” » After a psalm, a long prayer of intercession evokes the men and women plunged into various nights of suffering, solitude, indifference, without forgetting those who love each other or who sleep in peace. Upset, I hide my tears at the end of the service as I leave the church.
So this memory – my youth, my history with the Lord! – illuminates the words of the book of Wisdom. Yes, the Lord is near. Watch then!