Saturday, April 16, 2011

St. Benedict Labre - Saturday of Lent Week V - Death of Mgr Jean Gratton, emeritus of Mont-Laurier

In some places, including our parish in Wendover, April 16 is the liturgical memorial of a patron saint of street people. Benoît-Joseph Labre (1748-83) is the patron saint of the homeless. Having failed in his first ambition, to become a monk, he became for five years a perpetual pilgrim, before abandoning himself to the life of a derelict in Rome.

The eldest of 15 children of a prosperous shopkeeper, Benoît-Joseph was born in the village of Amettes, near Boulogne. Even as a young boy he manifested both extreme devotion and an inextinguish-able horror for anything which smacked of sin.

At 12 he was sent to live with an uncle who was parish priest of Erin, some 40 miles from Amettes. There, he immersed himself in reading the Bible and the lives of the saints.

Although Benoît-Joseph was not gloomy – indeed, he seemed to be cheerful in the depths of his soul – he was never sociable. His first ambition was to join the strictest possible religious order and submit himself to the most rigorous mortification.

Something about him, though, made monasteries wary. The Trappists, the Carthusians and the Cistercians all decided that he was unsuitable for any form of community.

Around 1770, when he was 22, Benoît-Joseph conceived the idea of becoming a pilgrim. He set out for Rome, travelling on foot and depending entirely on alms. His aim, in imitation of his Master (Luke 9.58), was to have nowhere to lay his head.

Such gifts as he received he often passed on to those whose need he considered greater than his. He had no possessions save his increasingly disgusting clothes, and three books, the New Testament, the Breviary and The Imitation of Christ.

As he walked he became totally absorbed in prayer and meditation, rarely speaking to fellow pilgrims. Nor, it must be admitted, were they keen to talk to him, given his stinking condition.

So, over the years, Benoît-Joseph made his way to all the main pilgrim shrines in western Europe, including Loreto and Assisi in Italy, Compostela in Spain, Paray-le-Monial in France and Einsiedeln in Switzerland, which he visited five times.

From 1774, however, he settled in Rome (save for an annual visit to Loreto), sleeping rough in the Colosseum until forced by illness to enter a hospice for the poor.

He spent his days in churches, becoming known as “the saint of the Forty Hours” in consequence of the long periods he spent in contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament.

Finally, on April 16, 1783, worn out by his sufferings and austerities, Benoît-Joseph sank down exhausted on the steps of his favourite church, the Madonna dei Monti, and was carried to a neighbouring house, where he died.

Canonized in 1883, Benoît-Joseph has been called a “representative example of those who have refused, in the name of Christ, to be respectable”. H/t to Anna Arco,

* * * * * *

On Thursday, Bishop Jean Gratton, a native of our diocese (Wendover, ON) and a member of the Ottawa presbyterate, passed away in Montreal after being in declining health for several years.  His funeral will take place in Mont-Laurier, where he had been bishop for more than twenty years.  When I was named a bishop he was always supportive of me at my first sessions of the CCCB. May the Lord grant him a merciful judgment and a blessed reward of his labours.  His funeral will be in Mont-Laurier on April 26.

Please join me in praying the Lord to receive him into the heavenly dwellings.


Décès de Mgr Jean Gratton, évêque émérite de Mont-Laurier

Le 14 avril 2011, Mgr Jean Gratton, évêque émérite de Mont-Laurier, est décédé à l’âge de 86 ans. Nommé évêque par le Pape Paul VI, le 13 mai 1978, il a été ordonné évêque de Mont-Laurier le 29 juin 1978, poste qu’il a occupé durant 23 ans, soit jusqu’à sa retraite le 8 septembre 2001 où il laissait place à son successeur Mgr Vital Massé.

Né le 4 décembre 1924, à Wendover, en Ontario, il est le fils de Joseph Aldéric Gratton et de Rhéa Séguin. Il était deuxième d’une famille de douze enfants. Après ses études théologiques au Grand séminaire Saint-Thomas d’Aquin à Ottawa, philosophiques à l’Université Angelicum à Rome et exégétiques et bibliques à l’Université de Montréal, il est ordonné prêtre le 27 avril 1952, à Wendover par l’archevêque d’Ottawa, Mgr Alexandre Vachon.

Professeur au petit Séminaire d’Ottawa (1952-1967), puis supérieur de l’endroit en 1966, il prend par la suite la direction de la Maison Paul VI et de la Pastorale des vocations (1967-1969). Codirecteur du Conseil diocésain de l’apostolat laïque (1968-1970) et du Concile diocésain (1971), curé de la paroisse Saint-Victor d’Alfred (1970-1973), puis vicaire général pour l’archidiocèse d’Ottawa (1973-1975) et enfin curé à la paroisse Saint-Charles de Vanier (1975-1978) avant d’être nommé évêque de Mont-Laurier.

Quatrième évêque de Mont-Laurier (1978–2001), Mgr Gratton aura marqué le diocèse surtout par sa proximité avec les gens, sa gestion sobre et efficace et un engagement marqué des laïques.

Mgr Gratton a aussi rempli de nombreuses fonctions au sein de la Conférence des évêques catholiques du Canada où il a été, notamment, président de la Commission épiscopale de l’éducation chrétienne (1989-1993) et président du Comité des communications (1990-1996) à l’Assemblée des évêques catholiques du Québec. Il a également été président d’assemblée des évêques de l’Inter-Ouest durant une bonne partie de son épiscopat à Mont-Laurier.

La dépouille de Mgr Gratton sera exposée au funérarium Ouellette, le 24 avril 2011, de 19 h à 22 h, le 25 avril de 14 h à 17 h et de 19 h à 22 h ainsi que le lendemain, 26 avril, en la cathédrale de Mont-Laurier, de 10 h à 14 h, moment de ses funérailles, au même endroit.

* * * * * *

Prayer for Saturday of Lent Week V

O God, who have made all those reborn in Christ a chosen race and a royal priesthood, grant us, we pray, the grace to will and to do what you command, that the people called to eternal life may be one in the faith of their hearts and in the homage of their deeds. Through our Lord.

* * * * * *

Ne descends pas dans le jardin

Ne laisse pas percer ton cœur,
Oh! Jésus,
Ne laisse pas percer ton cœur
Par tes bourreaux !
Si je ne laisse pas percer mon cœur
Comme un fruit mûr,
Qui donc vous baignera de sang et d’eau
Pour vous guérir ?
Je laisserai percer mon cœur
Comme un fruit mûr.

1 comment:

  1. May Msgr Gratton rest in peace
    Your Grace, I offer my sincere sympathy on the loss of your colleague.

    The news story on the front page of the Citizen today April 16 is also very sad.

    Jesus Christ never changes. May His name be Praised