The Community of Saint Martin: a choice of the heart or of the reason?
How delicate it is to speak about oneself! Since long, we hear the question: “What is it that leads young men to your Community?” Inspired by that which the “arrivals” say, here is an attempt to explain what it could be…
The call of Christ and the encounter with the Church, with a family
Let us dare to say it, as humble as possible: if there are men who enter the Community today, it is because Christ wants it. That is the essential cause. It is therefore not a question of merit or success in communication. The Community of Saint Martin forms future priests for the Church today because Jesus Christ intends to form servants in this institution. It is thus He who calls them and entrusts them to the Community of Saint Martin. The Rev. Father Guérin, founder of the Community, was always conscious of this. He always considered himself as an instrument, among others, of this particular will of God. The Spirit has been and continues to be the principal actor of this work of God. In its origin as well as today, the Community’s filiation and obedience to the Church have always wanted to guarantee this way of seeing things through the faith.
In the logic of the mystery of the Incarnation, the call which Christ addresses to a man in order to enter our community always includes the encounter with priests in love with the priesthood and the Church. All the seminarians say it. An explicit priestly identity, love of the Holy Father, docility to the Magisterium arouse and encourage this desire to serve the Church. More mysteriously, it is also the family spirit prevailing in the Community which opens the heart of these men to the mystery of the Church. In fact, the visible joy, a sense of hospitality, a realistic humanity and an assumed virility are also ingredients which help the one being called who finds himself on a retreat in Évron, to discover that he resembles the seminarians, that he can be like them, namely that he can flourish like a man by becoming a priest. This is by the way in line with a conviction of our founder, who often said: “before making priests, it is necessary to make men who are confident, free and responsible.” Entering a family, with its spirit and identity, where the different generations seem to flourish, is a reason for hope. In a world where many are afraid of engaging themselves, the family spirit is an excellent appeal to confidence.
This family spirit in constructed in and by a liturgical life that captures everything. Taking God seriously without taking oneself seriously, and filially make that which the Church demands of us. These devices could characterize our way of living the liturgy. Beautiful and sober, the liturgy is one the sacred spaces where all those on retreat nourish themselves. The liturgy creates peace and reassures, lifts up the soul and leads those who are called to say yes. The Eucharist appears indeed as the source and summit of the life of our house of formation.
An “alchemy” inherited and to be transmitted
Ultimately, if it is Christ who calls some to enter the Community, it is the coherence and the unity of the formation which attracts. The seminarian who chooses our house of formation simply wants to serve Christ and the Church while feeling that he can flourish as a man, as a Christian and as a priest. He feels that he is entering a family where the confidence and the good spirit are essential conditions in order to be formed.
Love of the priesthood, liturgy, community life, docility to the Magisterium in the studies; so many elements that constitute this “alchemy”, inherited by our late founder, which turn out to correspond to the expectation of many young men today.