order-o-genic France

… elle ne support pas les craintes pueriles que certaines d’entre nous auraient pour les insectes et autres animaux, elle tient absolument a ce qu’on se domine sur ce point; sur tous les domains il faut etre maitresse chez soi, sinon il faut renoncer a la saintete.

(a nun of Solesmes, on their first abbess)


Seems that Draguignan had a British-style flood (a great woosh of water, not a slow inexorable creep Polish-style). Twelve people died.

The monastery of the Little Sisters wasn’t affected, and the sisters had twenty six people come knocking at their door for shelter.

« Je passe tous les jours devant chez vous, je n’avais jamais osé entrer ! », « Je reviendrai vous voir pour vous rapporter les vêtements prêtés » « Je viendrai à la messe dimanche », « J’apporterai des fleurs à la sainte Vierge » ont-ils promis…
Une femme dont l’appartement est dévasté restera quelques jours chez les Sœurs : « Je n’ai plus rien, mais j’ai trouvé l’essentiel. »

On the subject of floods, here are a couple of photos of the district of Wilków, post-floods:

90% of the district was flooded, 4,000 people homeless (the chaps in the photos are homeless men who use the Capuchins’ soup kitchen in Warsaw, who went down to help), and as you can see many of these people (it’s a farming area) have lost their livelihood as well. It’s rather hard to imagine. If I hadn’t been so damn lazy and disorganised this year I could go down to help clear up. Mtt 25, 14-29.

Can’t embed, alas, but here’s an interview with the ex-FSSP co-founder of the Missionaries of Divine Mercy (the other being the Wonderful Bishop Rey:) ) – French, but if I can understand what he’s saying, any ful with a standard grade in French can.

Le interview.

That previous post about them. And remember. Frejus-Toulon: 1/95 of French dioceses, 80ish/756 of French seminarians.

The Missionaries of the Divine Mercy. I’m afraid I’ve not read everything and made a careful digest, so I myself have many questions. But somehow the idea … aj, I’m once more all dewy-eyed. I think I am at the moment possibly even more enamoured of them than I am of the Wonderful Petites Soeurs.

Our community was born of the meeting of two men, two pastors: Dominique Rey, bishop of the diocese of Frejus-Toulon, and abbé Fabrice Loiseau, then a priest of the FSSP. The bishop was looking for a community attached both to the old rite and to diocesan unity, the priest was seeking that same unity and the possibility of being profoundly missionary through the spirituality of the Divine Mercy.

After many meeting in the diocese, including evangelisation camps on the beaches of Var [region of France], the project of the community was born as a response to these aspirations. Frs Jean-Raphaël Dubrule and Eloi Gillet, then seminarians, joined the project and completed their formation at the diocesan seminary at La Castille. Other young men joined the community and became diocesan seminarians at La Castille, where they prayed the liturgy of Paul VI during the week and the traditional liturgy at the weekend in the parish, and during their apostolate.

The Society of the Missionaries of the Divine Mercy was born in September 2005, as an association of diocesan right attached to the diocese of Frejus-Toulon.

Three pillars emerged naturally

– witness to Mercy, as Christ revealed it to sr Faustina

– a great eucharistic devotion, with a particular attachment to the celebration of the liturgy in the rite of St Pius V, in the spirit of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum

a missionary zeal for the New Evangelisation, especially among the muslims.

Here’s (sorry, can’t get it to embed) a video featuring three different priests, one of which is the of the MDM (no, not that MDM). It’s in Frog, but there are nice pictures (custody of the eyes warning, lots of underdressed fit bodies of both sexes at the beginning – bit of a mission minefield, I’d have thought …)

If you read any French, their website looks interesting.

[Not the world’s most thought-out piece of writing]

I may have said already that I am in love with the diocese of Frejus-Toulon (healthier for the spiritual life than being in love with the bishop :))  My experience being limited to the Wonderful Petites Soeurs de la Consolation du Sacre-Coeur et de la Sainte Face and the visitors to their guest refectory (passing or longterm), I may not have the full picture, but the more I read, the more enamoured am I. The author of the two passages below, which I have roughly englished, is mostly concerned with the re-integration of the old rite and the folk who had to meet in hotel rooms and so on for years, but what gladdens my heart is the confirmation of what I saw and heard this Christmas – a bishop who is not only prepared to put up with this or that movement if he has to, but who (while not ignoring the fact that many of them have faults, and sometimes serious ones) is mostly interested in spreading the Gospel, and for whom maintenance or transformation of the internal status quo is not a question in itself [edited to add a bit I forgot:], and who therefore actively welcomes these initiatives, works with them, and encourages them to work together.

Even if our interest in, e.g.,  spreading a return to the celebration of Mass ad orientem is entirely (or even mostly) motivated by a desire to bring people to Christ, or help them come closer to Him, the clouds of dust raised by the discussion, and the time taken up by it, can leave the Main Point of the Whole Business obscured and neglected. From what I’ve seen, the neocats have some extremely serious problems in their theory and in their practice. But if the bishop were to ban them, who would evangelise the people whom the neocats have reached? And so on for so many movements (in both sense of the word), including the frickin’ loony monarchist maniple-obsessed traddy fringe, the medj-heads, the charismatics. the liberal sisters whose community prayer involves Taize tapes, … who all share this problem, of their particular “thing” obscuring and deforming the understanding of the faith, particularly of the church. Yet for the most part they are all admirable in the ways in which they are faithful. Terrifying older Irish liberal religious sister who’s pulled more than one person out of alcoholism, the charismatic groups where broken people grow back into themselves, the medj-heads who fast and pray for the conversion of sinners, the people with no label because they “just”  serve Mass or pray the rosary in their parish every Sunday for 43 years.

But if a diocese is chiefly concerned with the salvation of souls and the glory of God, then while disagreements over liturgy will not lose their seriousness (as someone points out, “It’s all the same Mass” is exactly why every single thing about it is crucially important), and everyone in it is able to work together to that end, then the One Thing that Matters is made luminously clear by the very fact of being  held in perfect accord by the (sometimes violently) disagreeing.

“Exemples de Communion”, la Nef nr 183 (June 2007):

Two recent diocesan experiences lead me to some reflections concerning the liberalisation of the traditional liturgy and the question of communion. The first example: the Communion and Evangelisation weekend organised by the diocese of Toulon last 28th and 29th April, which saw the active participation of numerous communities representative of the diversity of the church in France today: charismatic (the Beatitudes, Emmanuel, Chemin Neuf …), “classical” (the Saint-Martin community, the Sisters of the Consolation), or traditionalists, and of lay people coming also from hugely differing backgrounds. Despite this diversity, despite the fac that the liturgical celebrations in the current rite, entirely dignified, did not correspond to that which is habitually celebrated in the “classical” or “traditionalist” communities, an awesome [foul Americanism that, slanginess apart, seems to be the best equivalent of “formidable” in this case] communion ruled during these two days consecrated to mission and to the affirmation of the faith. … Bishop Rey devoted the same energy to getting to meet the different participants, to form contacts in regard to concrete projects, going from one to the other without ever making any difference, neither from the speaker’s platform, nor in the individual contacts between “traddies”, “happy-clappies” [? – “chachas”] or other, obviously very simplistic, labels, which I employ here only for reasons of commodity.

Toulon encore“, la Nef nr 186, October 2007:

….This Saturdy 22nd September … a diocesan bishop, Monsignor Rey, ordained, in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, in his cathedral, in the presence of several dozen diocesan priests and seminarians, the first priest of a new traditionalist community, and subsequently named him curate of the personal parish already entrusted to that community, the Missionaries of Divine Mercy. [I’ve just discovered something else wonderful. More soon.]

In itself, this is a first in France in more than one way. But undoubtedly the most striking thing during the ceremony and afterwards was the profound communion and fraternity of these priests of greatly differing origins, around one shepherd, who was there truly as a father, a shepherd loving his flock, loving them with the love of Christ. The event itself aside, it was this that was most tangible, and made clearly visible the fruits which the motu proprio Summorum Pontificium can produce, that the “extraordinary” take its place in the “ordinary” life of the dioceses. The young minister of the extraordinary rite found himself naturally received by his diocesan peers without any reservation, with being required to proclaim that he is not an “enemy of the Council”, without his liturgical choice making him some kind of plague-carrier in regard to the current pastoral plan. “Vision idyllique” [not sure what the tone of that is in French] some say, “Monsignor Rey again” say others, as though his truly paternal attitude were some passing eccentricity. Nothing of the sort!

Here is a little interview with the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb. If anyone feels like translating more of it  for those with even less Frog than me …

“I’d been a catechist in the diocese of Tours for eighteen years when I met Veronique.” recalls Sr Line. This young girl with Down’s had been knocking desperately at the door of different congregations, without finding one that could receive her. “I had such a desire for Jesus” concurs Veronique. “I couldn’t do anything else!” “This desire was an appeal, it touched me” continues the prioress.

And here’s an older one, from 1997.

Here’s an article on a Franciscan community for men with Down’s syndrome. One chap recounts:

We had as a guest Sylvie, a young girl addicted to drugs, who didn’t want to leave us. The day of her departure, she cried, and Martial, a young man on the way to joining the community, said to her “Sylvie, I love you, I give you all the strength of my confirmation.” … Three months later, Sylvie phoned us “I’ve given up the drugs. I can’t betray my friends from Nazareth [the community in question – b.I.].” And this girl was had been violently angry with her father began an whole process of reconciliation with him.”


“I give you all the strength of my confirmation”.

Edited Dec 2010 to add: See this article. Looks like this Franciscan–flavoured thing had to be closed down for unfortunate reasons, but the men with Downs themselves have found another place to pursue the religious life, with the Benedictines of Notre Dame d’Esperance (a congregation issuing from Solesmes).



The Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb are a contemplative community that enables girls with Down’s syndrome to respond to a religious vocation.

To Offer Oneself to God in witness to the Gospel of Life

Together for a contemplative life

To consecrate one’s life to God, offering it for love of the weakest and most deprived of our neighbours, this is our vocation! By accompanying them, we want to enable young, intellectually disabled girls to offer a consecrated life to God and to the Church.

To allow those who have the “last place” in the world, to hold in the Church the exceptional place of spouses of Jesus Christ. To allow those who depend on others for their everyday life to take in charge, in their prayer, the intentions that are entrusted to them. To allow those whose life is held in contempt to the extent of being in danger from a culture of death, to witness by their consecration to the Gospel of Life.

The Institute of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb, a contemplative vocation, offer young girls with Downs the possibilty of realising their religious vocation. This realisation is made possible only by the support of sisters without this disability, who have responded to a special call to consecrate themselves to God with their disabled sisters to form one community with them.

Today, more girls with Down’s Syndrome are knocking at our door. To respond to their request, our family needs new vocations. Vocations to share a contemplative life with “the smallest in the Kingdom”.

Together in work and prayer

Guided by the wisdom of St Benedict, we teach our little disabled sisters the manual labour necessary for their development. We live poverty in putting ourselves at their disposal. With them, we share the work of everyday life.

The office, adoration and the praying of the rosary are adapted to their rhythm and their capacities. In a spirit of silence, our prayer feeds every day on the Eucharist and on the meditation of the Gospel.

Close to the abbey of Fontgombault, we benefit from its spiritual support.

The Institute of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb

The community was founded in 1985, and canonically recognised in 1990 as a public association by the Archbishop of Tours. It settled in Blanc in 1995, and was erected as a religious institute of contemplative life by the archbishop of Bourges in 1999.

The Little Sisters now have at their disposal a priory on the edge of the town. Here, for a period of vocational discernment,  they can receive young girls touched by the spirit of poverty and dedication, ready to offer a whole existence to the service of Christ in the person of their sisters with Down’s Syndrome.

At the school of St Therese of the Child Jesus

We follow every day the “little way” taught by Saint Therese; knowing that “great actions are forbidden to us”, we learn from her to receive everything from God, to “love for the brothers who fight”, to “scatter flowers for Jesus”, and to pray for the intentions entrusted to us.

[Text from a leaflet produced by the community, trans. bat Ionah. ]

The community was founded with the encouragement of Jerome Lejeune, and is currently supported by, among others, the Lejeune Foundation, according to this page. One sister made her perpetual profession last June.

This youtube clipe is taken from a 26 minute documentary on the community produced by the French Exaltavit.

Edited to add: Here I’ve added a post with two interviews with the sisters, and an article on a Franciscan  community for men with Down’s syndrome. Edited Dec 2010 to add: Here is an article on a house of the Benedictine congregation of Notre Dame d’Esperance. It seems that the Franciscan community ended badly, and the Benedictines have taken into account the problems that were found there.

[Witamy czytelników z strony e-sancti 🙂 Kto ma słabe zdrowie a pragnie zostać mnichem, niech spojrzy tutaj. Mam zamiar pisać o nich. Kiedyś.]