My dear children,... come to us, stay with us. We will be the guardian angels of your innocence. (Sermon, VII 2271 - Fr. Jean-Marie De La Mennais)
The title of this post is a quote from a sermon by the Founder of my congregation, Father Jean-Marie De La Mennais (1780-1860). This is the full quote:
"My dear children, whom Jesus, our Saviour, has loved so much, whom he bends down to embrace and bless, come to us, stay with us. We will be the guardian angels of your innocence."
(Sermon, VII 2271)
It is one of a number of quotes that I had been asked to translate for a forthcoming document from French into English whilst here at our study session. I couldn't help but think what Fr. Jean-Marie would have thought of the actions of those priests and religious who over the years have abused the trust that children (+ adults) have placed in them.
"We will be the guardian angels of your innocence."
I could cry when I read these words, knowing how passionate our Founder was for the well-being of children. It is our job as Brothers today to be such guardian angels.
Here are some other passages from amongst those I have translated which I would like to share, so as to give people an idea of our Founder's priorities and his sensitivity to the needs of the Brothers in his congregation, as well as those of young people.
"God created me for his greater glory; therefore, I must dedicate to him all my actions, consecrate my whole being to him; and I must strive with all my mind to know him, with all my heart to love him and with all my strength to serve him."
(Sermon I p. 15)
"When the Word became flesh and lived among us, did he not use his divine mouth to instruct those who followed him? Did he not gather little children round him to teach and bless them? And what of ourselves, his disciples? Should we not imitate his example?"
(S II p. 799)
"Be careful not to mistake God’s voice for the voice of your own desires. So that you may be able to discern one from the other, pray much and always submit yourself to the jugement of those who have the grace to be able to distinguish between that which comes from Heaven and that which comes from the spirit of lies, who often appears in the form of an Angel of light so as to seduce us."
(S VIII p. 2286)
"My children, you are having to fight very hard during these difficult times. […] How are you going to sustain your vocation, on which your own salvation and those of your poor little children depends? How will […] the beautiful and great endeavour to which you have dedicated yourselves support itself? Should you count on your own talents?… No, for that would be a vain hope; listen rather to these words from the Holy Spirit: it is our faith that will defeat the world, and this faith of ours is founded on knowing none other than Jesus Christ, the crucified Christ."
(S VII p. 2294)
"You have the desire to walk in his footsteps, to be gentle and humble of heart following his example, to be obedient like him to the point of death, according to the will of our heavenly Father. Peace be with you! Your spirit will rejoice in this heavenly peace,… you will cease to be like… clouds of smoke dispersed by the wind. May peace reign in your heart… whose feelings and desires will always relate back to God! May this deep peace envelop your senses."
(S VII p. 2375.)
"Speak to the one who is the very expression of God’s strength and virtue; he has come to dwell in you, so as to be united with you in the same spirit, by the grace of intimate union and through the outpouring of ardent love. He knows your weaknesses and your urgent needs, he knows… your suffering, your temptations, your worries and your former infidelities. He sees all that is most secret in your soul. Therefore, implore his mercy and goodness, for he can refuse you nothing, given current circumstances."
(S IV p. 1485)
I think the end of this last one is wonderful:
"Let us pray, therefore, pray without ceasing. But, you may ask, is that possible?… Well! If you think this then you haven’t understood what prayer really is, this inarticulate, inner prayer that withdraws, so to speak, into the depths of the soul. Ah! This prayer is never troubled by anything. Nothing distracts it, neither noise, nor our various activities, nor our professional commitments, nor sleep… You want to know how one might pray without ceasing? You should also ask how one might love without ceasing, for prayer is nothing more than the expression of love, and love is the most beautiful and the most perfect of prayers."
(S IV p. 1478)