WEEK V — SUNDAY: Blessed Jean Wauthier, o.m.i. (22.03.1926-16.12.1967)

fuyiFor three years, I have been with the refugees who have gone underground. They fled by the thousands at night, in the rain, in the cold mist of the mountain tops. They hardly brought anything except their children. They prefer to live in the jungle, lacking almost everything, but free. There are times when we need more freedom than we need rice. There are perhaps 30,000 to 40,000 of them.

My family doesn’t say anything. They accept it. “They keep these things in their hearts,” like all the families of missionaries. That’s undoubtedly why their far-off sons can do something. The flowers and the fruits bud forth, but the root is thousands of miles away from there.

As a priest, I am alone. But there are all the people. Because of the war, I live very close to them. It is they who made my house, just like one of theirs: a rectangle of 8 x 6 m (26 x 20 ft.), with a dirt floor, a roof of leaves, walls of bamboo… Often I work with them. They know that I need them for food, for lodging, for protecting me in an emergency. In exchange, when the occasion presents itself, I am the nurse, the teacher, and I try to give them the Lord “always more abundantly.”

 Interview of Blessed Jean Wauthier
for the review
Famille Éducatrice, November 1966


WEEK IV — SATURDAY Blessed Jean Wauthier, o.m.i. (22.03.1926-16.12.1967)

wauthier-omi-namlieng-1960The kingdom of God moves forward, little by little, but it’s a wonder that it does so, in spite of the huge power of the hostile forces who oppose it… What will be its future? God alone knows, but for us missionaries and for all those who support us, it’s consoling to know that the least of our efforts is something positive, even though a road, a bridge, can be destroyed so quickly. That’s what I often tell myself while walking along the paths to visit a family that is more or less fervent: a day or two to see four or five Christians, just happy to have any at all…

The other day, I had to cross a river thirteen times, often with the water up to my stomach. After that, I walked in mud for two or three hundred meters on a trail literally plowed up by buffalos. Sometimes it was up to my knees. It’s wonderful to get out of there… All of that is the beautiful life of the missionary, really beautiful; nothing beats being wet like the joy of putting on dry clothing; or having walked in the rain for hours and then being in the shelter of a roof that leaks a bit, but not much…

 Letter of Blessed Jean Wauthier
to the Poor Clares of Fourmies, 16 August 1959


WEEK IV — FRIDAY: Blessed Jean Wauthier, o.m.i. (22.03.1926-16.12.1967)

wLess than a two-day walk from here, the Viet Minh are “catechizing” the people. Humanly speaking, the future is gloomy. Faced with this diabolically relentless deluge, we are 20 Fathers who, conscious of our weakness but strong in the power of God, have decided unanimously at our last retreat to stay, whatever should happen. That’s a very weighty little word. We know perfectly well what is going to happen to us: torture and death, physical or psychological torture (who knows which is to be preferred?), the People’s Court, forced labor, expulsion, being broken and belittled… But because our Leader Jesus triumphed over death by dying on a cross, we disciples of his prefer not to have an easy time of it on earth.

As for the 400 catechumens who are studying: what distress when we think of them! Yet there’s no chaining the Word of God; woe to us if we don’t bring it to those who still languish in darkness… May Jesus and Mary send us Fathers and Sisters; may they give us sufficient health and especially may they not let any of us ever renounce the faith if we enter into the Church of Silence.

 Letter of Blessed Jean Wauthier
to the Poor Clares of Fourmies, 9 December 1954

WEEK IV — THURSDAY: Blessed Jean Wauthier, o.m.i. (22.03.1926-16.12.1967)

wauthier-omi-subra-bannammon-1953The war is in full swing, but here we come and go—sometimes there are impressive encounters. All alone, turning a corner, I come across a dozen armed guys, who immediately take aim at me. A quick act of contrition. With my best smile on my lips, and with a beating heart, I approach them, I speak to them in Phou-teng: they say not a word. Only two answer me in Lao. I tell them that I am visiting everyone to heal them, to tell them of the Good God, etc. Silence… Then I wish them a good journey and without permission I continue on my way. It took me a little will power not to turn around, listening for the rattle of machine guns that I know so well. It happened so quickly, in a forest area where no one will go to look…

You see that the Blessed Virgin protected me. And why be afraid? We are nothing of ourselves, but we are walking Christs; you feel it almost physically in this country where everyone lives in the fear of spirits and we are love, where everyone lives for bodily needs and we are first of all a soul that should be shining, where virginity is unknown and ridiculed and we live without women.

 Letter of Blessed Jean Wauthier
to the Oblates at Solignac, France, 24 March 1954

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