Saturday, November 30, 2013
His conversion happened when he was 19 years old, while he was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis. One day, he suddenly realised that he had stopped thinking about his brother Bernard, who was two years younger than him and who had died suddenly at the age of ten. It was as if his younger brother were telling him: “You do not think of me anymore because your heart has become hard; you have become proud.” Pierre fell on his knees at the foot of his sick-bed and at this moment he met Christ in a way that gave light to his whole life. Afterwards, he modified his way of living, filled with art and refinement. He decided to deepen his faith, to pray and to evangelise.
A lay adorer
During World War II, he met Cardinal Suhard, Archbishop of Paris, with whom he became close. Cardinal Suhard was one to the first people to observe the de-Christianisation of France and the need to re-evangelise the country. He also confirmed Pierre in his vocation as a layman: to remain in the world, to be an adorer of Jesus in the Eucharist, and to evangelise while being in the world.
In 1944, Pierre was able to escape a dangerous situation through the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After he met Jesus, he met Mary, his mother. Every year after that, he would go to Lourdes.
Engaged in the cultural world
During this period, he busied himself with evangelisation through books, magazines, and participation in the Catholic Circle of Intellectuals. He afterwards turned towards cinema, as he saw the importance of this new art form. He became the friend and sometimes the counsellor of several directors and for ten years worked at the Secretariat of the National Film Office in France. However, he was always sick with tuberculosis and at times he could get out of his bed only to go to meetings.
In 1970, he retired to live a very simple life. His ardent desire to make Jesus known pushed him to gather young people to open themselves up to hope in God. This was how a young woman was converted, while he was reading to her the passage where Jesus says to the Samaritan woman: “If you but knew all that God gives …”
At another time, he helped writer, Maurice Clavel, to realise that the crisis which was troubling him was actually a search for God.
But what Pierre was doing in small things and in near obscurity would be transformed in a major event through the Charismatic Renewal. The outpouring of the Spirit would change everything, leading to innumerable conversions and the adventure of the Emmanuel Community.
A humble man
Pierre had a radical and simple humility. This humility allowed him to welcome different types of people. This richness at the beginning later flavoured the Community.
This humility allowed him to listen well to the Holy Spirit. It made his strong will completely available to the will of the Lord. Many people have told stories of the many times Pierre changed his plans after a time of prayer; or, how he changed his own ideas after another person showed him something better.
Free to love
“Original” as he was, Pierre was a free man. He was not imprisoned in structures. Although profoundly traditional, he was not at all conservative. He always wanted to create a new world and to move forward. He wanted to renew the Church, which he loved passionately. That is why he never let himself be stopped by minor or temporary problems.
He was also striking in his joy: joy in the presence of God, joy at the action of God, joy in living with brothers. Marthe Robin confirmed this one day when she said, “I will pray so that Emmanuel may evangelise with joy”.
All for God
A community, whatever it may be, will always retain some of the traits of the spiritual personality of its founder. Pierre had a rich personality. We would like to give some examples of this here.
Pierre was a man who completely gave of himself. He gave himself to God and to others without expecting anything in return. Little by little and especially towards the end of his life, he abandoned himself more and more, to God who is a God of love, God who is near.
Pierre was himself living the name of the Community: Emmanuel, God-with-us. He was the one who re-actualised the message of the Heart of Christ in Paray-le-Monial and Jesus’ call that men might become his friends.
Pierre did not have an indifferent heart. He was present to each person. In a spontaneous way, he would compassionately welcome the sufferings, the calls, the needs of others, especially his brothers in the Community. He offered to Christ, little by little, all that was entrusted to him. Adoration and compassion were inseparable.
Pierre felt a great compassion especially for those who did not know the Lord. There is no greater misery than spiritual misery. This is why Pierre talked without ceasing and with boldness about evangelisation, with everyone, even with the most simple of people. For him, Emmanuel existed to evangelise. Being a visionary, he was incredibly creative.