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Jesus-Eucharist at the Saint-Alphonsus chapel,
2019-March-01, around 3h00 in the morning.
Don't feel forced to read this article, I'm writing it mostly for myself, to remind myself of the good times I recently spent in the company of Jesus, really and substantially present under the appearances of bread.
Normally, I barely manage to keep my head out of the water, in the violent waves of the Here Below. Thrown into the rapids of life without my consent, without a life buoy, without a compass, I must swim, or sink. The "water", fetid and tumultuous, in which I am plunged is not composed of oxygen and hydrogen, but rather of social cacophony: the steel river of polluting and noisy automobiles; the deafening falls of others' conversations, filled with remarks either greedy, or lecherous, or slanderous, or puerile, and all this often with a splash of blasphemies; the stagnant whirlpools of worries that spin endlessly, with no hope of exit (how will I pay my bills? how will I alleviate my sufferings? those of my loved ones? how will I cope with tomorrow? how will I redress pervasive injustice? how will I sort out fate's apparent absurdity? etc.).
Yet very early that morning, I had a stroke of luck. All the conditions came together to offer me a long and beautiful Silence!
First, the material conditions were ideal. At three o'clock in the morning, everything is rather quiet in my neighborhood! What a profound silence! In addition, the chapel is pretty. I wouldn't call it beautiful, but it's not post-Vatican-II ugly either (like the paganized horror at Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, which looks like a warehouse for broken artifacts of the Industrial Revolution, waiting for repairs).
Not only was the building silent and beautiful, but I had no bodily worries: no physical ailments, no need to go to the bathroom, a good coffee freshly quaffed (and a backup in my thermos), etc. There were even large sheets of paper at the back with beautiful quotations on Eucharistic Adoration (from Saint Margaret Mary and Saint Peter-Julian Eymard) but printed only on one side, so I was able to steal one and write down my ideas (leaning on the upright piano at the back, which is just at the correct height to serve as a desk when I'm standing).
My parents got married here! Actually, the Saint-Alphonse chapel touches the Saint-Charles-Garnier church, where my parents were married. It's also in that church I went to Confession for the very first time. Having been baptized eight days after my birth, and raised in a supposedly Catholic environment, I had theoretically already received the Sacraments. But the catechesis in those days was so rotten that I skimmed through my Confirmation, my First Communion (and I suppose my First Confession, even though I have no memory of it) without understanding what was going on.
It was only around the age of 18, when I was living nearby, at my grandparents Rita Lebrun and Ferdinand Trudel, that I rediscovered the Catholic Faith. I distinctly remember there were many good books in my room, such as the Bible, the "Little Catechism", the Governement Of Onself, a good old Latin Missal, etc. The silent example of my Grandparents, good books, a few old teachers still courageously Catholic at the Petit Séminaire de Québec (Father Benoît Garneau, Father Joffre Galarneau, Mr. Robert Labrie who taught me love of Philosophy), and the Grace of God, were such that on the night of my birthday, March 25, 1982, all alone in my room, I put on my best suit, copied (from the aforementioned Missal) the Nicean Creed, then signed my name, to show that henceforth I was a Catholic. (Yes, I kick myself for not keeping this pledge and this Missal!)
As you can imagine, being someone who calls "Anti-Pope" the one who almost everyone else calls "Pope", I'm normally uncomfortable in a "catholic" church. It drives me nuts to see people gabbing and doing anything except praying, even when Jesus is in the Monstrance there in front, on the altar! The lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament makes my blood boil. I'd like to have the courage of Paul Comptois, who when his house caught fire (it's about a 5 minute walk from here), first got out his family, but then died trying to retreive the Most Blessed Sacrament that had remained in the chapel.
But that night, everything was perfect! There was nobody! No old lady to snore during the two hours of my shift! (Yes, I'm not making this up.) No nut jobs who come and perform all kinds of prostrations and gyrations in front, almost halfway up the altar. No jerks yapping in the back as if they were on the street or at the convenience store buying beer and cigarettes. And above all, no "catholic" priest to "help" us pray by doling out a mixture of pseudo-teachings on the Eucharist (inevitably veering toward Protestantism) and a "flow of consciousness" homily, i.e. a semi-automatic verbalization of the meanders of their reflections (invariably tasteless).
I started as usual by saying my Rosary. But since I was alone with Jesus, I was able to say it while pacing along the wall, Epistle side, mentally saying "Jesus-Eucharist, I adore Thee!" every time I would come up to the first row of benches, and kneeling from time to time on a kneeler to rest. I remember thinking that I was, at that moment, a true Peripatetic (from the verb "to walk" in Greek), since Aristotle would give his classes while walking, knowing that our mind needs the body to think well. (Montaigne also said: "My thoughts sleep, if I sit them down; my mind won't go, unless my legs move it forward.")
I existed, but not only physically; I truly existed, like a spirit, with the part of ourselves that is in the likeness of angels and God, a person endowed with intelligence and free-will.
What ideal conditions for thinking and praying! Thank you Jesus-Eucharist! I was no longer half drowned, whirling in the rapids of time, but I was nice and dry, in a small corner of the Great Eternal Barque of Peter, kept toasty by the Monstrance, freely breathing Silence!
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