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Marcellin Champagnat and the Holy Week

19/04/2019: General House

The mystery of redemption was another of the special objects of Father Champagnat's devotion. He spent the whole of Lent meditating on the sufferings of the divine Saviour; and, convinced that such a subject was adequate to occupy the Brothers and to nourish their piety, he gave them no other for their meditations, their spiritual reading and often, for the reading during meals.

Holy Week was even more specially given over to contemplating that ineffable mystery of God's immense love for men; he spent it with the greatest recollection, as it were in a kind of retreat. During the last three days, the liturgical ceremonies were carried out in full with all possible devotion and solemnity. For many years the Founder himself fasted on Good Friday on bread and water and had the community do likewise. There was no recreation taken that day after the midday meal, and deep silence reigned throughout the house; the whole day was passed either attending the ceremonies, reading spiritual works or meditating on the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

The pious Founder turned Holy Week into a time of renewal in piety and fervour both for himself and his Brothers. Many of the Brothers in the establishment, spent this holy time with him; he saw them all privately to encourage them and to rekindle the spirit of their state; and in between the ceremonies, he conducted lectures and discussions on Christ's passion or on the duties of the religious life.

It can be said, then, that the week was indeed a holy one, as its name suggests; he dedicated it entirely to prayer, to his own sanctification and that of his Brothers.

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Jean-Baptiste Furet, Life of Blessed Marcellin Joseph Benedict Champagnat – II,6

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