Following the stars


            We are at the beginning of a new year. A look back on the past year allows us to give thanks: thank you for the joys and encounters that have been given to us; thank you for the trials that have been overcome. The year 2021 has arrived. To guide our path, we look for a star, like the mages we celebrated at the Epiphany. Here are three stars. Not one, but three that Pope Francis proposes to us. The first is the year of St. Joseph; the second, the encyclical Fratelli tutti; the third, the year of the family. They illuminate the same direction, that of life in the Church. Your diocesan church will probably invite you to follow one, two, or three of these stars.

            Saint Joseph. Pope Pius IX proclaimed him patron of the universal Church 150 years ago. Pope Francis has decided on a special year of Saint Joseph from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021. The "boss" of the universal Church is not one of those supermodels who shine in the globalized industry. He is the man who goes unnoticed, the man of the daily presence, discreet and hidden, in the life of Jesus as in today’s life of the Church and in ours. Yet he plays an unrivalled role in the history of salvation! Saint Joseph makes us understand the importance of ordinary people: far from the spotlight, they show patience and instill hope. St. Joseph has always been loved by the Christian people. In him, Jesus saw the tenderness of God, the one that makes us welcome our weakness because it is through our weakness that most of God's purposes are realized. One would have to read the entire apostolic letter "Patris rope"  to discover or rediscover the richness of the figure of St. Joseph. The Pope also reveals that he has been praying to him every day for more than 40 years, in a prayer expressing devotion and trust. It ends: " Let it not be said that I called on you in vain, and since you can do anything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power."

            Second star, the encyclical "All Brothers, Fratelli tutti"  of October 3, the eve of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The Pope warns that it is a "social" encyclical: the fraternity it speaks of concerns the life of the whole society; it has an international scope. It addresses the political field: by recalling the importance of politics, the Pope has the opportunity to say that it should not be subject to economics (Chapter 5). But the words of Pope Francis do not fly far above our heads. Fraternity passes for us through small gestures of mutual affection: these have a political dimension, like "all actions that try to build a better world" (182). Fraternity often begins with listening: "sit down and listen to another person." That is within our reach. "We must not lose the ability to listen." “A path of fraternity, local and universal, can only be traveled by free spirits ready for real encounters.” (50) Listening and meeting are within our reach. Through them, we build a better world. When I first presented this encyclical, I quoted the chapter that corresponds to LAI's international vocation, Chapter 4 "An Open Heart to the World," which says that the encounter between different cultures brings something new. Pope Francis gives us yet another word, that of benevolence. He invites us to rediscover and cultivate benevolence (222-224): to put aside his anxieties and emergencies, to pay attention, to offer a smile, to say a word that stimulates: "some people do so and become stars in the dark."

            The family. It will be almost 5 years since Pope Francis gave the apostolic exhortation "The joy of love" that is lived in families and which is also the joy of the Church, precisely on the feast of St. Joseph. He proposes that 2021 be also a year of the family. Amoris laetitia talks mainly about married life and the upbringing of children. There is little mention of the elderly as such.( That doesn't stop seniors from caring about the family!  Sometimes they are the pillar or the cement. Many of them live in a couple. And if some are abandoned by their families, they are entrusted to our benevolence. We will be able to keep up to date with the initiatives taken at home for this family year. We can also make our prayers to the Holy Family who concludes the apostolic exhortation: "Holy Family of Nazareth, make our families a place of communion. That there will never be scenes of violence, isolation and division in families again. Holy Family of Nazareth, make everyone aware of the sanctity and inviolable nature of the family, of its beauty in God's plan."

            In search of the king of Jews, the Magi rejoiced when they saw the star. Let us rejoice in these stars, let them illuminate our path: it may sometimes be difficult; it leads us to Jesus. I have no gold, incense or myrrh, but "if I can help one person live better, it already justifies the gift of my life" (Fratelli tutti, 195).

Father François Maupu