Blessed Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus and Gandhi’s Gospel of the Rose

There is a story told of a Catholic missionary who asked the famous Mahatma Gandhi for advice on how to be a missionary in India. His answer was simple: Just be like a fragrant rose. The rose does not need to talk about its nature and beauty, nor does it need to explain the smell of its fragrance. Just be like a fragrant rose. This statement came to be known later as Gandhi’s Gospel of the Rose.

Though formulated in a different linguistic expression, the following words of the recently beatified Fr. Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus ring exactly the same: “Today we will not spread the message through discussion – people no longer believe in it – not even through good works! The best means is through the witness of someone who is possessed and captivated by God; who by his words and behavior allows God to be seen, shows what God can do in a life and in a person. There you have the best and powerful witness” (August 22, 1966 Talk).

Transferring the symbolism of fragrant flowers to electrical gadgetry, Blessed Marie-Eugene is telling us that to be an authentic and committed Christian these days, one must be like a led bulb in a live socket or a heater plugged to a live outlet. This is the only to be a bright light of God’s presence, which “by his words and behavior allows God to be seen”. Indeed, “the best and powerful witness.” How then can one show or reflect God by his words and behavior?

Blessed Marie-Eugene suggested a lifestyle that unites contemplation, commitment to mission and complete trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary. How can this “best and powerful witness” of a contemplative, missionary and Marian lifestyle counter the Godlessness sadly manifested in the loss of moral sense of right and wrong in the murderous war on illegal drugs arrogantly promoted by the present regime who believes in the fallacious principle that the end justifies the means?

My humble suggestion is to follow the Blessed Father’s suggestions: no talking, no good works or projects but personal decision first, that is, to be a witness to the presence of the Living God as one complies with the duties of one’s profession or ministry. Then the family will follow; and the community towards the parish level will necessarily be affected. Then consciences will be disturbed and sharpened as seen in several cops and vigilantes now going to bishops and priests asking for help. This is how the Holy Spirit, Fr. Marie-Eugene’s “Friend” works in changing society from within.

Two Scripture passages may help us know something about how the dynamics of personal and social transformation happens through contemplation united to commitment to mission and complete trust in Mary the Mother of Jesus. In 2nd Corinthians 4:15-19: St. Paul speaks about a deepening faith leading the inner person to union with God who renews his soul day by day even if the outer person experiences physical problems. The other passage is from Luke 2:19: “As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart”.

Contemplative prayer refers to the inner person’s soul in union with God. Mary is the foremost model of a contemplative in action. Both are essential characteristics of a committed disciple and missionary.

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