By Gisèle Plantec
QUEBEC, JUNE 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The founder of a fraternity dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament says he discovered the same, unique Jesus present in the Eucharist and in the weakness and poverty of the world’s poor and handicapped.
Father Nicolas Buttet is the founder of the Eucharistein Fraternity, and was invited to speak Tuesday at the International Eucharistic Congress, under way in Quebec through Sunday.
He also spoke with ZENIT about his own discovery of the importance of the Eucharist and the inspirations behind the fraternity he founded.
Part 1 of this interview was published Tuesday.
Q: Can you tell us how you discovered the importance of the Eucharist?
Father Buttet: Some 20 years ago, I was working as a lawyer and engaged in many political activities as deputy in a cantonal parliament in Switzerland and as secretary of a national parliamentary group. I was moreover also confronted both with important social questions as well as personal problems, of a family and social nature.
In the context of my work in a law office, I was deeply upset by a young man who had raped and burned seven children. This contact between that painful reality and my faith wrung a cry from my heart: “If there is no love, the world will not be able to go on!”
I then decided to experience that love close up by spending my Christmas holidays at the Cottolengo in Turin, an institution that receives people suffering from serious physical and mental handicaps.
I remember my arrival in the house: I had left the Swiss parliament and was landing, ignorant and poor, in the world — new for me — of our handicapped brothers and sisters. I was immediately plunged into the reality of the place because, soon after my arrival, together with a religious brother, we spent two hours washing 18 patients who were filthy from head to toe. After the first reaction to the odors and colors, I was gripped that night by that word of Christ who took flesh and what flesh! “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25).
After having finished washing these handicapped brothers, around midnight, I went down to the chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed day and night. For me, it was the shock, the certainty of his real, corporal Presence. I discovered at the same time the presence of Jesus, above on the beds in the persons of my invalid brothers and that shining Presence of Jesus on the altar in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus was certainly there under the appearance of a brother and under the appearances of bread. The same and unique Jesus.
That certainty has never left me since that date, even if it is now, unhappily, and I say it with a contrite heart, faltering and scattered with so many inconsistencies as regards the exercise of love. I console myself quoting St. Claude La Colombiere who said: “to say that I am still not there after more than 10,000 communions!”
Q: Tell us a bit about the Eucharistein Fraternity? What is its principal charism?
Father Buttet: Our little community is of Franciscan inspiration in its poor lifestyle and closeness to nature: We build and repair houses ourselves, we develop agriculture and forestry. We are certainly rooted in the Eucharistic life. It’s the heart of our life and our vocation. We have daily adoration in our houses from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m two to three nights a week. We have also launched, with laymen and the permission of the bishop, perpetual adoration in Fribourg, Switzerland: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The inspiration of our Eucharistic life comes from St. Peter Julien Eymard, a great prophet of the Eucharist of the 19th century. It was he who said: “I have often reflected on the remedies to that universal indifference that takes hold of so many Catholics in a frightful way, and I find only one: the Eucharist, the love of the Eucharistic Jesus. The loss of faith comes from the loss of love.”
On another occasion, he said: “Now, one must get to work, save souls through the divine Eucharist and wake up France and Europe, engulfed in a sleep of indifference because they do not know Jesus, the gift of God, the Eucharistic Emmanuel. It’s the torch of love that must be carried to lukewarm souls, who believe themselves to be pious and are not so because they have not established their center and their life on the Eucharistic Jesus.”
We also receive young people in difficulties. We are inspired in this by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in that relationship between the Sacrament of the altar and the sacrament of a brother. It is there that we experience, almost clinically, if I dare say so, the force and strength of reconstruction and grace of Jesus in his sacrament of love. In a word, we have special missions, parishes, politicians and businessmen, and the spiritual animation of the Philanthropos institute. And, of course, our inspirer in this mission of being all to all is St. Francis de Sales.
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On the Net:
The Hour of the Eucharist, (Part 1): http://www.zenit.org/article-22938?l=english