As early as the 1920s, Fr Marie-Eugène had a threefold insight :
- Baptismal grace is the foundation for all Christians called to live a life of holiness.
- Silent prayer, a relationship of intimate friendship with God, is the basis for every Christian life.
- Revealing this richness to today’s world is a matter of urgency.
The gift of baptism:
« Believe in your grace ! », said Fr Marie-Eugène constantly. Every baptised person receives a unique personal gift at baptism. This divine gift is a present from God which allows us to participate in his life and to journey towards him. It is a grace of sonship which enables us to have a personal relationship with the Father whose children we are.
(Romans 8.16, New Jerusalem Bible)
Baptism is not merely an action performed in a more-or-less remote past.
The gift received that day is constantly called to develop itself anew.
(Fr Marie-Eugène, Au souffle de l’esprit (Where the Spirit Breathes), p. 88)
Just as the mustard seed already carries the whole plant within, so the grace given by God contains a call.
Our baptismal vocation is not something outside ourselves but rather a ‘light’, ‘direction’ and ‘hope’ that we hold within us. It’s up to us to look for it and respond to it.
Silent prayer as the wellspring:
Two hours of silent, personal prayer a day can seem out of sync with the world we live in. How can we set aside so much time in a day already filled by career (in the case of lay people) or ministry (for priests) ?
God is love and he delights in giving himself.
If we reflect that our relationship with him is vital and indispensable because we are sons and daughters of the Father, if we recognise that “it is in him that we live, and move, and exist” (Acts 17.28, NJB) and that “all our activities originate in him and receive from him their completion” (from the Liturgy), then the question of time given to prayer “arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no 2710).
« Silent prayer is a search for God … at the beginning, it’s a search ! One cannot find him, one is not used to it. Later on, it is he who draws one in. He responds. Silent prayer gives the experience of God. One looks for him in faith. One has to exercise that faith. »
(Fr Marie-Eugène, La Force de la prière (The Power of Prayer), pp. 16, 18)
Silent prayer is a process whereby love dips into its own resources and gives time to the one it loves.
Witnessing to God in an ordinary life:
Witnessing is part of the vocation of every baptised person. When Fr Marie-Eugène insisted that members of Notre Dame de Vie should be genuine contemplatives, it wasn’t so that they should be isolated behind an enclosure wall. The love of Christ needs to be extended by a loving Church. “The Church is entirely and completely evangelizing” (Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi).
Atheism and secularity represent not dangers but stepping stones to hope for a witness to be achieved through being more than through words.