DAY 9 – LOVING AS FAR AS GIVING ONE’S LIFE
Libermann lived the last years of his life as the eleventh Superior General of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, at Lhomond street, where the seminary of that Congregation was. To revitalize the missionary spirit, he introduced some needed changes, but he mainly wrote a lot. He continued to accompany the novitiate, which was in the abbey of Gard, some kilometres from Amiens, going there for retreats and conferences. He now had a broader and deeper vision of missionary life. The “Instructions to Missionaries”, written in 1851, a few months before his death, reflect the loving care that he has for this work and how he desired that each missionary would live the mission as Jesus did.
With the consolidation and extension of the work in Africa, his worries also increased. His health, which was always fragile, began to be affected by so much activity. In 1851 shortly before his death, he was saying to a missionary: I have the joy of being able to say that I am as much African and more African than all of you because I’ve had all the diseases of Africa: seven years ago dysentery; last summer I began with a strange fever and ended up with a hepatic fever. LS IV p 687
To the missionaries who wrote to him about the diseases and difficulties he spoke in the sense of offering one’s life, giving oneself totally to God, for love of the Father, for the salvation of the brothers. He did not speak as one giving lessons, it is always hard to give lessons to one who is suffering, but as one who knows what is is to suffer, because he lived it daily.“So let us rejoice, peacefully, in Jesus Christ that we have been called by God to be offered up together with his well beloved Son”. In the moments before dying he said: Yes, I offer my sufferings for you, for all of you and also for Guinea. Libermann was never physically in Africa, but, in reality, his thoughts and his heart never left it, once he felt called to get involved in the “Work of the Negros”. His heart belonged in fact, to the Africans.
Bible reading: 2 Tim 4, 1-8 (Prayerful reading of the Word)
Libermann text: My dear brothers, learn how to judge things correctly through God’s eyes during the short time that you have to pass in this world. This life is very small and unhappy, but it can become rich and great for you through your sufferings, which are treasures of wealth and glory, thanks to the merciful plan of our all powerful God. Keep yourselves firmly and gently on the holy and difficult path in which God in his goodness has placed you. The road you follow is that of Jesus himself; walk in it as he did, following his example all the way, for the sanctification of others. Make yourselves holy, so that those people may be sanctified in the truth of God. Just as Jesus Christ, sent by his Father, lived only for Him, you who have also been sent by the Father must live for Him in his spirit of holiness. Anthology 363
Last words of Libermann quoted in SRL 38
Each of us keeps in mind the last words of Father Libermann: Be fervent, always fervent, and above all, charity, charity, charity above all. Charity in Jesus Christ, charity through Jesus Christ, charity in the name of Jesus Christ. Fervour, charity, union in Jesus Christ. I am seeing you all for the last time. I am happy to see you. Sacrifice yourselves for Jesus, for Jesus alone. God is all; man is nothing. A spirit of sacrifice, zeal for the glory of God, the salvation of souls». Anthology 173
Question for reflection
Which words of the founder do we retain in our memory and most influence us?
*Culled from 《NOVENA for LIBERMANN DAY 2 February 2014》 published CSSp Generalate, Rome