Saturday, 5 November 2016

Madeleine Delbrel: Counting on Mercy

Magnificat for 4th November offered, as the "Meditation of the Day", an extract from the writings of Madeleine Delbrel. Magnificat published it under the title "Counting on Mercy". In the English translation of the original text it is the first paragraphs of a section entitled "Those who are unhappy". It is part of a study written by Madeleine, dated 1951, that reflects on what it means to be a missionary in the Church of her times. The resonance of the study as a whole to Pope Francis' ideas of "missionary parishes" and "missionary disciples" is striking, as is the comparison of the passage offered by Magnificat to the evangelising significance of the Year of Mercy. It is also worth recalling, as we read the following words, Madeleine's own radical choice to live among the workers of a Communist suburb of Paris.
We cannot let mercy dry up, as so often happens today. A greater awareness of the economic hardship of the masses cannot lead us to have scorn for other forms of suffering, or to lose interest in them.
Christ's mercy for the poor is one part of a mercy as vast as all the human griefs combined. It is a mercy for sinners, a mercy for the sick, a mercy for those lamenting their dead, a mercy for those in prison, a mercy for all the little ones.
Because of a reductively materialistic notion of poverty, we are often in danger of forgetting that there are people who are poor in other ways than merely economically; there are other little ones than the workers. There are those who are morally or psychologically weak. There are those who are poor in gifts, in appeal, in love. In addition to the oppressed classes are those who are "unclassifiable".
Those who are little, those who are poor, are not only in the working class. And the working class itself is not made up exhaustively of militants, militants who are already rich in hope, rich in heart, rich in intellectual formation.
It is not up to us to correct Christ's heart either - it belongs to all people and we have to give it to all people.
The personal love of Christ. He calls each one by name - he does not call a category. He knows each one of as the Father knows the Son.

As I looked up this extract in my copy of We, the Ordinary People of the Streets, my eye was caught by the following in the last but one paragraph of the preceding section:
All great human activities function as signs. Just as marriage is the most perfect sign of the union of Christ and his Church, and voluntary celibacy makes us live more fully the reality towards which this sign points, human work is a sign of the Church's toil over the world, a suffering and fruitful labour.

No comments: