The solemnity of St Peter-Julian Eymard on 2 August 2020 at the parish named after him at La Mure was organised in two phases.
First phase: preparation
This preparation took place in various prayerful moments: a novena of prayer, a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Osier and a vigil of guided Adoration on the last day of the novena.
The novena of prayer was on the theme: “Participating in the Mass with St Peter-Julian Eymard.” It was to help the faithful to participate fruitfully in the Eucharistic celebration. For the Eucharist is the source of the whole Christian life (cf. the preparatory document of the International Eucharistic Congress of Budapest, 2020) insofar as it is its centre (“We have only one idea, one purpose, one centre: Eucharist!” - Father Eymard, CO 609; III,56). The Eucharist is also shown as integral to the maturation of all Christian life and mission. St Peter-Julian Eymard, an apostle of the Eucharist, understood this well and explained it in his various works.
In this vast skein of reflections this novena comprised certain selected elements, such as: “Beginning Mass with Peter-Julian Eymard”, “Listen to the Word with Peter-Julian Eymard”, “Proclaim the Word with Peter-Julian Eymard”, “Through the Holy Spirit: the offerings, Body and Blood of Christ and the participants, united as one Body in Christ”, “The Christian community shares Christ’s design”, “The real offering of Christ to the faithful”, “Holy Communion”, “Thanksgiving” and “The Sending Forth: to infuse the Spirit of the Mass into the reality of the world”.
Thus one of the themes was explained during the homily at the daily Eucharistic celebration, which was preceded by an hour of silent adoration. A text of Father Eymard corresponding to the theme of the day was made available to each of the faithful.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Osier was the place of pilgrimage chosen for the eighth walk in the footsteps of Father Eymard. The theme for this was: Call to holiness. This walk commenced the Triduum of the Feast of St Peter-Julian on 30 July. Fourteen persons took part motivated to follow the same journey of faith undertaken by the Abbé Eymard towards celebrating his first Mass. This Marian Shrine was maintained by the Oblates of Mary.
This involves learning Jesus’ love by allowing oneself to be accompanied by the Blessed Virgin Mary like St Peter-Julian Mary who put it this way: “What is holiness? It is the life of Jesus Christ in us. Now, the sweet and great mission of Mary is to form us into saints, that is, to have us know Jesus Christ, to inspire us with his love, and form us with his virtues, in other words, to make us into other Jesus Christs …[Gal 2:20].” (PG 223,1; XII,20)
One of the Adorations was guided on Friday 31 July. The members of the Aggregation of the Blessed Sacrament of La Mure prepared this that had the theme “Eymard and Holiness”. It was conducted according to the method of prayer outlined by Father Eymard: adoration in the four ends of the sacrifice of the Mass - adoration, thanksgiving, petition for forgiveness and supplication. Each stage comprised successively: a text from the word of God, a corresponding meditation by Father Eymard, a period of silence and a song. Free expression of intentions replaced the period of silence of the supplication part.
Second phase: the celebration of the Eucharist
Bishop Guy de Kérimel of the diocese presided at the Eucharistic celebration that was attended by a great number of the faithful coming from the dioceses of Lyons and Grenoble. The Superior General, Father Eugênio Barbosa Martins, and other priests concelebrated this Mass in which SSS confreres participated from Le Havre, Colombier, Grenoble, La Mure, priests of Our Lady of La Salette and a diocesan priest.
Here is a resume of the Bishop’s homily: the Lord has compassion on the multitude who ignores Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the Treasure is unknown! St Peter-Julian Eymard was filled with compassion for all those children who were unaware of the Eucharist and those young adults who did not know they were loved nor the sacrament of love.
Today, no less than in St Peter-Julian Eymard’s day, Jesus is not known. We seek what does not satisfy. We do not believe in the sacrament of love. Faith does not move people. God has no meaning for us. How can there be a desire to receive Communion? What is our desire enabling us to love? Do we know how to recognise hunger in our contemporaries? We are satisfied to please ourselves. Do we know how to acknowledge God, discern the spiritual needs of our poor people, refugees, migrants? Do we say like the apostles: “send away those approaching us” or do Jesus’ words still resonate in us today: “Give them something yourselves to eat today”?
However, poverty of means is the condition of our mission. Our strength is Jesus himself. He is the new Moses who offers bread to the children of Israel. People are satiated. The “twelve” baskets signify the plenitude of the love of which Jesus is telling us. “Who will separate me from the love of Christ?”, says St Paul. Communion is the sacrament of love and the fullness of divine love. Love is the vocation of every Christian. It must be safeguarded and witnessed.
After the Eucharist, the guests shared a fraternal meal at the parish house. This feast could be better prepared and realised. Nevertheless, these occasions of offering interior and material life, experienced during this time of the present pandemic, are presented as a manner of celebrating the feast of St Peter-Julian Eymard.
Father Thaddée Mupapa, sss