Michel Leon, recently retired, is an active, committed parishioner in a Catholic parish in Villepinte on the outskirts of Paris. On the occasion of a diocesan day of reflection, he accepted an invitation to share his experience of belonging to a group of Associates of the Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice.
I knew the Sisters but did not have any particular links with them. Until 1992 when I was completely broken as a result of a serious accident: in an attempt to steal my car, I was attacked, thrown into the air and spent several weeks in a coma…The friendship and the kindness of the Sisters were decisive. They helped me to become myself again but also to become a different person, through their invitation to meet a recently formed group: “the Associates.”
In the context of my everyday life, my marriage, my family, my profession, my parish, I learned how to bring together spirituality and the reality of the moment. To become living witnesses, we have a guide: Blessed Marie-Therese de Soubiran, our Foundress who herself was steeped in the spirituality of St. Ignatius. Inspired by her spiritual writings, we meet once a month. As a group, lay people and Sisters, we take time for a review of our life, each one following his or her own rythm; we have times of prayer and Adoration, which are a source of revelation, acceptance and humility.
My way of looking at others has changed
Today I see myself as living the spirituality of St. Ignatius with the Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice. This has changed my approach to others, whom I now accept just as they are. As a commercial businessman, professionally this would not be my natural bent! Now they are brothers and sisters in Christ and this is what is so good. My prayer is that I might listen to the Holy Spirit, discern the inner movements of the Spirit and try to translate them into action. This is no easy task and many questions arise. So spiritual accompaniment is very important, helping me to find inner peace. Responding to this mysterious and inexplicable call cannot be undertaken alone.
So it has been that little by little, through moments in the desert, times when I felt abandoned, that my commitment took on concrete form 13 years ago as I made my formal promise, renewable every year. There is total freedom to withdraw or take a year out…If this tempts you, why not look for a form of spirituality that responds to your needs and develop it with a religious community?