Testimony of faith. The Lord was watching

Testimony of faith. The Lord was watching

I am 12 years old. We live in Tamatave (Madagascar). Theological science and the kindness of the Montfortian missionary who teaches catechism fascinate me. One day, at home, I announce: “I would like to be a priest.” A long silence greets my declaration. In the last trimester, my father tells me that I will be leaving for France and will be starting the next school year at the Montfortian minor seminary in Loire-Atlantique. I am flabbergasted. But I obey: in my ultra-Catholic family where we live in a vacuum, obedience is paramount. As we are leaving, my mother hugs me tightly and whispers: “Take good care of yourself. I will never see you again.” Her daily letters sustain me, until this telegram, one Good Friday: “Mom has died.” My heart breaks. I blame God and the whole Earth. I held on for three more years, tossed between faith, doubt, blasphemy and indiscipline, until the day I decided to go to Marseille where the family had withdrawn. A painful moment: my father inflicted a monumental beating on me, with punches and kicks, without explanation. For two years, he would not speak to me again until I finally left his house.

For forty years, I lived as best I could, focused on my professional, successful life, in a total spiritual desert. But the Lord did not abandon me. I was then 62 years old. During a tea dance, my gaze met that of a lady, luminous, bordered with stars, gentleness and kindness. Soon, this person with a painful past and an admirable heart agreed to marry me. In the center of the town where she lived, the Notre-Dame church and its Virgin and Child attracted me irresistibly. The first time, I went in. Sitting at the very back, I looked at the lamp shining in the choir. For a long time. “I noticed him and he noticed me.”* And tears came to my eyes. The following times, I spoke to the Lord, asked him for forgiveness for having abandoned him for so long, forgiveness for having blasphemed, forgiveness for having denied him. I prayed to him for the world so troubled, for those who were suffering. Sometimes I go through his whole path of suffering with him. I try to bring a little comfort and human warmth to elderly and isolated people, in an association.

I found faith, hope, charity again. And the inextinguishable need to converse with him. I missed him so much.

* Testimony – which has become famous – of a parishioner describing to the priest of Ars his way of praying before the Blessed Sacrament.

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