WEEK V — WEDNESDAY Blessed Lucien Galan, m.e.p. (09.12.1921-12.05.1968)

galan-rfgdIt’s peace that we lack here; there’s always war, the little war, not very lethal but awfully bothersome. You always have to be on your guard, armed with patience and prudence. The apostolate is suffering because of it. Yet by seeking, we find souls of good will who are looking for the truth; but we cannot do all that we would want for them. We should not complain too much however; the situation could be much worse. We can still do missionary work and even reap the fruits, not abundantly perhaps, but enough to believe that we’re not working uselessly. In spite of everything, we hope for better days. “Fear not, little flock; I have conquered the world.”

I am still in the danger zone, surrounded by mines. The jungle inhabited by tigers and serpents is not dangerous, but when men decide to play a game of war there, it becomes dangerous and it’s always the innocent who suffer. I am limited in my apostolic or other movements. I am going to spend Christmas in a so-called liberated zone; I’ll have to go through the curtain of mines.

Letters of Blessed Lucien Galan to a priest friend,
12 September 1961 and 16 December 1962.

WEEK IV – WEDNESDAY: Blessed Marcel Denis, m.e.p. (07.08.1919-31.07.1961)

denis-mep-1Perhaps you’ve heard that Lak Sao has been taken by the Communists? That was a hot one! … Once again the Good God protected me.

It’s only right. People are praying for me so much! Provided that this does not make the bishop change his mind. I don’t have a lot of catechumens near Lak Sao; most of my work is in the north…

For years I’ve been traveling that way, perpetually “reprimanded” by the people who are fearful when there is yet no danger, who still tremble when it’s no longer there…

The soldiers are leaving to rest, far to the south, in the mountains, carrying their few wounded, and leaving the region to the Viet. I stayed to visit my catechumens on Saturday and Sunday. I was able to visit all my people.

I am happy. But in leaving, I had a heavy heart, not knowing whether I will ever be able to see again these catechumens of less than a year. Pray hard for them and for the region… So that was an odd week! Pray for your godfather, you and your sisters and everyone…

 Letter of Blessed Marcel Denis to his niece, 27 March 1961

WEEK IV — TUESDAY: Blessed Marcel Denis, m.e.p. (07.08.1919-31.07.1961)

This year, I discovered some lepers who are forced to live behind a mountain, 5 km straight from my village. I don’t want to make a detour of 30 km, on foot of course, to go around the mountain, so I have to climb it: about three hours of acrobatics and moving on all fours over a heap of cutting and burning rocks.h

For normal villages, doctors are a problem and a burden.

These lepers have never received visits or help of any kind: it will be a crazy adventure, and I cannot leave them like that.

There are more than 40 families, all more or less affected … even children.

For the grownups, there are rotting limbs, fingers, feet and hands that fall off, one after the other, ravaged faces. Lots of work and many worries!

My life is spent largely on the slopes, climbing the mountains (walking 200 km every month) going from one valley to another, debating day and night in pagan villages, lodging in their homes, teaching Christians and catechumens, healing bodies.

I am only a missionary whose main work is exploring these totally pagan regions.

 Circular letter of Blessed Marcel Denis, December 1957
(Picture taken by himself in the village of the lepers)

WEEK IV — MONDAY: Blessed Marcel Denis, m.e.p. (07.08.1919-31.07.1961)

denis-mep-chez-les-thaimeui-1960How interesting it is to preach to people who have never been exposed to our religion!

Seated on the floor of their high-perched house, one looks at the burning torch.

The night hours pass. The old man with slanted eyes and a wrinkled face tells of the tribulations of times gone by and of customs; he tells of what he likes or does not like in all these practices…

After the kilometers and climbs of the day, I fall asleep as soon as I lie down on the mat and I sleep like a log, even when it’s thundering and raining. The coolness of morning wakes us…

These successive rounds helped us to plow and to harrow and to sow. The result is not huge, but I am encouraged – some families are converting… All of that requires days of walking, visits that are useless (apparently), a whole atmosphere to be created, and the seed grows – thanks to the prayers and sacrifices of so many people I don’t even know. Release from the cult of spirits — the people ask for nothing better, but they are afraid to take the risk – because the spirits take revenge! When the people embark on this adventure of conversion, we must follow and instruct and heal them.

Letters of Blessed Marcel Denis to his father,
20 March and 29 April 1957

WEEK III — WEDNESDAY: Blessed Noël Tenaud, m.e.p. (11.11.1904-27.04.1961)

I am going to settle in the Savannakhet region, and from there, I will move out to find atenaud-mep-5 suitable area to install a station. Meanwhile, I will probably sleep in my van. I don’t know yet where I will dwell in the vast region the Bishop has entrusted to me: it must be the size of at least three or four French departments, and, of course, I am alone…. I am not telling you much more about my new kingdom since I don’t know much about it. For now, all I ask of you is that you pray and to have the children pray too, as well as all of our friends so that my new field of missionary work be open to grace.

Opening a new region is always a miracle of grace: you must get this miracle for me, and for that, you need to storm heaven for me…

I’m returning from a long, ten-day trip in the area which is my kingdom. I have been in contact with quite a few villages, and everywhere, I was well received. But those are merely first contacts and it’s a long way from first contacts to a request for conversion.

Letters of Blessed Noël Tenaud to his family,
3 December 1959 and 20 February 1960

WEEK III — TUESDAY: Blessed Noël Tenaud, m.e.p. (11.11.1904-27.04.1961)

tenaud-mep-new-gifJust as Jesus delivered himself to death for us, the ignominious death on the cross, so too the missionary, who has received from God the Mission to be His successor on earth, must be ready for every sacrifice. The vocation of the Foreign Missions, in fact, is a vocation to total sacrifice, a total gift of self to God in the details of daily life, even unto death itself.

He even needs to change his deepest ways of thinking. Like Jesus Christ, the missionary must become like those whom he has come to save… And having reached maturity, he must make for himself a new life; restart his education from its very foundations; rebuild the entire structure of his knowledge.

Much more suffering, many more sacrifices still await him there, but that does not bother him, for his commitment to God must extend even unto death…

The Gospel laborer must work with the sweat of his brow and, at the price of his suffering, purchase the fruit that will serve as remuneration for his action, that is to say, souls…

Blessed Noël Tenaud, farewell sermon to his parish,
16 August 1931

WEEK I — WEDNESDAY: Blessed René Dubroux, m.e.p. (28.11.1914-19.12.1959

dubroux-mep-6I gave you your freedom; use it only for the good and the service of your Laotian brothers. I miss your presence very much, even your periods of bad mood; and I miss even more the help you were to my work. This is what I ask of you: stick to regular confession. If you don’t go to confession often, you will lose your piety and the purity of your heart; and if, unfortunately, you stop going to confession, that would be a sure sign of disaster.

Now that you have some money, keep track of it, but do not live on the charity of others; and wherever you take a room, try to pay for the room yourself. Any way, you are free, with all the risks that this entails; accept your responsibilities.

My letter contains only advice. Avoid being frivolous; be serious, thrifty and persevering; set fantasies aside. Because you have been faithful, the good Lord has blessed you, and will bless you if you remain faithful. Whatever happens, you will always be my beloved son; I wrote to you at the death of your father that I’m sure he has watched over you from Heaven. The more you give, the more you receive.

Letter of Blessed René Dubroux
to a young catechist-helper, aged 21, 8 July 1959.