To the deepest Solitude Msgr Bienvenu I have read Les Miserable of Chinese translation when I was a kid. It was a life changing book for me, a book that leads me to my catholic faith, a book that bases my belief in Catholicism. Some traditionalist Catholics might have bias against Victor Hugo, since he had a revolutionary thoughts towards the society and had sympathy for Enlightenment and French Revolution. Yes, he has.. because the sympathy towards suffering is a normal feeling of a vivid person. It does not matter which sides one belongs to, because human being does not suppose to have side when we are born and we are persuaded to choose a side, a side or “deepest solitude” Msgr Bienvenu( whose original name is XXX Myriel) might be a fictional character in the book Les Miserable, but he is so true to me. When I was a kid, I remember so deeply how kind and gentle he was toward the poor. Even the burglars will repentant under his teaching. He changed the entire life of Jean Viljean and made him a saintly person. At that time, I did not know my faith well. I did not pay attention to the detail of his life about him as good shepherd of Christ. This winter break, I took a little bit time re-read Les Miserable (in English translation this time..lol…). Some detail description caught my eye. I wish the share with all my friends about this shining figure, as my model for a saintly catholic.
Victor Hugo said, he is a ultramontane than Gallican..
As Catholics, we are historically being questioned about our loyalty towards our own country especially when one’s own country’s belief is against Catholicism. It is a weird feeling for people who do not have an institutionalized faith especially towards converts like me… Why do you choose to put another “fetters” for your life ? Aren’t the fetters already enough in this world. I guess our answers are simply… believe in Christ will set one free from all the other the fetters.. We are also questioned so many times that we love pope more than Christ.. I do not want to involve in the philosophical arguing here, since I am not good at that.
However, I do wish to acknowledge the “sensitivity” Hugo has as a great writer. He did not fawn to the twisted society to create a so called “Catholic” who was a good man but not a good Catholic, one who uses loving poor as an excuse to betray the Catholic faith.
Msgr loved the poor, while he believed that anything luxury beyond the needs of “liturgy” is a sin… please pay attention to here.. any luxury beyond the needs of liturgy. People question our beautiful church and beautiful palace of Christ in Vatican and ask why pope can have a luxury roof while so many people are suffering. My answer is that every one will give the best things to the most beloved one, so we choose to give all we have to the Christ. Actually this sentence reminded me of Pope Benedict, who slept on the floor in the palace in Vatican. Luxury and beauty should be given to the Christ and we need to learn to live in poverty.
Msgr loved the poor because he loved God. He became poor to “con”sole the poor. So many people these days claim that they care for the poor, but for what? for the “radial equity?” for “everybody should have the same share of the world”? I Sometimes do doubt what behinds those caring are selfish thoughts that ” I have less than other people, it is unfair for me….” Then, there should not be surprised to see that some CEO of non-profit ironically becomes millionaires.
Hugo said that, He enjoys the deepest solitude.
There is another interesting part of the book about this bishop. It was said that his diocese does not have “young priests”, because young priests feel that it was too hard to get promotion from this small dioceses and life there was too hard. As long as one priest can get recommendation from the archdiocese nearby, they will leave their poor parish immediately. Msgr was also not welcomed by his fellow bishops and Cardinals, since he always talked about the poor in their meetings, and he lived so simple that way below the standard of a bishop at that time. He gave all he has to the God and his people. His saintly poverty becomes sting in many people’s eyes. In Hugo’s world, being a clergy is a way of living a comfort life, at least it was a life-long employment and one never needed to worry about “lay-off”. No doubts, some people do pursue this “career” under those intentions. It might still be true today since the church in this world is never without problem. I have to say that worldly comforts are tempting….This is the reason why Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God… So few people can do it, but whoever truly does it becomes the children of God.
The deepest solitude
As a final word, the saintly example of Msgr teaches me that loving God and loving His People will lead one undoubtedly to the deepest solitude, because this soul belongs to God alone!