One of my heroes... Père Gustave Martelet s.j.

Now four weeks into the new school year at my new school, the last few days I've felt as if I was running on empty. But I think the worst is over, especially now that we have actually had our impending Ofsted (school inspection). It took place 2 weeks ago and is always a very stressful experience, but nowadays as much, if not more so for the school administration as it is for the teachers themselves, what with all the hoops a school has to jump through in terms of documentation.

I'd like to take a moment to look back briefly at my summer travels in France. When I was there for our Provincial celebration towards the end of August I had the chance to come back via Paris and visit my old friend Fr. Gustave Martelet s.j., a 92 year-old Jesuit theologian and "expert" at Vatican II with whom I had the privilege to work during my 4 years of study in Paris. As well as having become a spiritual mentor/director, I am immensely honoured to say he has also become a close friend. He is (rather incredibly) still writing, lecturing at my old faculty (the Jesuit University faculty and scholasticate Centre Sèvres) and giving interviews for tv (more about that in a moment), the latter all without notes. His mind is so incredibly alive, alert and inquisitive, more so than most people half his age. He is wonderfully warm and affectionate with a lovely playful sense of humour.

Fr. Gustave

Whenever I see Gustave in Paris he takes me for a meal, occasionally he celebrates Mass just for the 2 of us and through him I receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. He always asks me when I am going to come and see him again. I am lucky to be able to sometimes make a detour through Paris when going to meetings in France or coming back back from summer breaks and probably see him 2-4 times a year.

I already have a dvd of talks that he gave for the community at Taizé monastery and was delighted to hear that a 50-min. interview he gave for a French Sunday morning religious tv programme had received such positive feedback that the channel decided to release it commercially on dvd. It is an incredibly moving personal testimony that combines autobiography with a summary of his own personal theology in relation to some pretty BIG questions: suffering, death, resurrection, Purgatory, Hell. He is a wonderfully engaging speaker whose passion for God and his passion for helping others to come closer to Him, as well a deep and genuine humility, shine through the whole interview. I say interview, but in actual fact Gustave is the only person you hear speaking other than the occasional voice-over link during shots of him walking around Parisian churches, a park, etc... and the programme is, I think, all the better for this.

Unfortunately, there are no English subtitles as it was only intended for a French audience. But I would thoroughly encourage any French speakers to check it out. If you click here you will go to a streamed version of the programme from the French catholic KTO tv channel's website. It was originally shown on one of the main French channels. Even non-French speakers might be interested to see the passion and energy for God that this man has at the age of 92, especially the last 15 minutes.

The dvd cover. Click here to go to a French website to order it.

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