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We publish here the homily of Cardinal Sarah to the Guides of Europe gathered in Paray-le-Monial for their yearly rangers’ pilgriamge on Sunday, November 4th, 2018.

Dear European Girl Guides,

Like every year on All Saints’ Day, you have come to Paray-le-Monial, the City of the Sacred Heart, to entrust yourselves to Jesus Our Lord who told a humble nun of the Visitation, Saint Margaret Mary: “This is the Heart that loved men so much that it spared nothing until it exhausted itself and consumed itself to show them its love. And as a gratitude I receive from most of them nothing but ingratitude, through their irreverence and sacrilege, and through the coldness and contempt they have for me in this Sacrament of Love[1]. Not only from the various provinces of France, the eldest daughter of the Church, but also from each of the countries that make up the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe, you have walked along the paths of the Charollais, your heart filled with faith and love, and your gaze fixed on Jesus, up to this magnificent Romanesque basilica. In the Gospel that has just been proclaimed, you have just heard from the very mouth of the Lord Jesus the commandment of God: “Hear Israel, the Lord your God is the only Lord. You will love your God with all your heart, with all your strength and with all your soul». It is the Word of Life, the Shema Israel, that is to say the prayer that the adult Jew must say morning and evening, covering his eyes with his hand out of respect for God, the Lord, and also to better focus on these sacred words. This was the prayer of Jesus, of the Virgin Mary, his Most Holy Mother, of Saint Joseph, of the apostles and the holy women of the Gospel. It is also ours, because Christians also affirm that God, our Creator, is unique, that he has incarnated and made himself visible in Jesus Christ, and that we must love him with all our heart.

However, we know that the word “commandment” does not have good press in the current social context, where the prevailing slogan in the field of education is rather: absolute freedom or “carpe diem“, which means “enjoy the present moment without worrying about the future“. Fifty years ago, the protagonists of the events of May 1968 called for a pseudo-liberation of the taboos imposed by the Church for centuries, which they believed prevented the freedom and development of young people. Impregnated with this libertarian mentality, many of our contemporaries, who know even more or less precisely that Christianity is the “religion of love“, are surprised by the connection between the words “commandment” and “love“, and they ask us this question: “How can love be a law, a commandment?; how can one love by obeying an order?; “Doesn’t this go against the spontaneous gush of our heart, which is precisely love? “… Then, to solve this problem, insoluble in their eyes, men of our time prefer to strike God from their memory, from their thoughts, from their conscience and therefore from their own human laws, this God whose death the philosopher Frederic Nietzche had already announced in the 19th century by proclaiming: “God is dead, and it is we who killed him[2]… But man cannot kill God without inventing another one, without making his “golden calf” and prostrating himself before it. In fact, our contemporaries were not afraid to invent another god and another religion, to their measure as consumers and zappers. For our contemporaries, what matters in life is to be “tolerant“, “open“, “free from any constraint“, “filled with material goods to saturation“, “greedy and passionate about new things“… Therefore, for many of them, all religions are equal, and none of them has the right to claim that it possesses the truth… It is enough to be tolerant and let everyone follow his own tendencies and moral laws.

Scout pedagogy takes the opposite of this evil deception, which is in reality a great fraud and deception invented by unscrupulous adults. To the children and young people who suffer this real dictatorship to the point of nausea (how many of them go so far as to commit suicide!), to this deleterious laxity and relativism that disintegrates and kills man, Scouting responds with a Law clearly stated in ten points, which are as many commandments, in the image of those that Moses received on Mount Tabor, and that Father Jacques Sevin presented as the quintessence of the Gospel; here is what the founder of Catholic Scouting said on this subject:

Your Scout law is holy, it smells of the Gospel. You can be proud of it, it is the law of Jesus. It allows you to walk towards holiness, which is required from every baptized person in the Catholic Church, because in it the Old and New Testaments are reflected.

Then, Father Sevin, as an eminent pedagogue, had the intelligence to answer an important objection:

“However, by the very fact that it is formulated in ten articles, will not the Scout or Guide law make children forget the true and first Decalogue, or, in other words, will the Law of God as such not be replaced by the Scout Law, by Baden-Powell’s Law? Would there be competition there? Take a closer look: the Scout or Guide Law reissues the Decalogue, because just as the Decalogue implies everything it does not formulate from natural law, the Scout and Guide Law assumes everything it does not explicitly say. This is the case with Justice, that is to say respect for the life and good of others: since the Scout and Guide Law lead to the saving of this life and goods, it obviously assumes that they are respected, and it would be wrong to blame the Scout and Guide who preach dedication for forgetting justice”[3].

In today’s Gospel, after recalling the Shema Israel, which corresponds to the first commandment, that is to say the love of the unique God, Jesus quotes the second commandment: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself“, which he connects to the first one and makes it one. This is the new evangelical novelty: the unity of the two commandments of the Love of God and neighbour, which makes Saint John say, in his first epistle: “If anyone says “I love God” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.[4]. And Saint John adds: “This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.[5]. The cornerstone of Christian Revelation is therefore the union of the two commandments of Love in Jesus Christ. Indeed, at the heart of our Christian faith is this unique and incomparable element, which is the summit of Revelation: God became man in Jesus Christ – it is the Mystery of the Incarnation – and He Himself, Jesus, who is the Son of God, offered His life to save us from sin and to tear us from death – it is the Mystery of the Redemption. Jesus teaches us that to truly love is to die for others and for God.

In the second reading of this Sunday Mass, we heard that Jesus “is indeed the high priest we needed: holy, innocent, immaculate; now separated from sinners, he is now higher than heaven. He does not need, like the other high priests, to offer sacrifices every day, first for his personal sins, then for those of the people; this he did once and for all by offering himself. ” Thus God, in Jesus Christ, became one of us so that the two experiences of love of charity, that of love of God and that of love of the brother, are as inseparable as humanity and divinity which are united in the One divine Person of Jesus Christ. Indeed, in Jesus of Nazareth, a union was sealed by God Himself between, on the one hand, the mystery of the opening of our hearts to His divine presence, and, on the other hand, the mystery of the opening of our hearts to the presence of our brothers. Faced with the libertarian ideology, which we mentioned earlier, stands the standard of the Cross, which is a glorious Cross, symbol of God’s infinite Love for mankind, because our risen Redeemer lives with the Father and with the Holy Spirit in the Glory of Heaven. The eight-pointed Cross of European Girl Guides, which represents the eight Beatitudes, must be your pride: “Daughter of Christendom, the Girl Guide is proud of her faith: she works to establish the kingdom of Christ in her whole life and in the world around her“, says the third principle of the European Scout Federation.

Scouting is therefore a pedagogy of charity, this theological virtue, which encompasses the love of God and love of the neighbour, with the daily good turn, which is mentioned in the text of the Scout and Guide Promise.

Not far from here, in this chapel of the Visitation, which became a fountain of graces during the rigid and drying Jansenism, a Visitandine nun, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, was introduced by Jesus himself into the contemplation of his pierced Heart for the Salvation of the world. It is this message of Salvation that you have to transmit to the Guides entrusted to you, a message of Salvation contained in today’s first reading of the Mass: God tells us today in substance: “If you fear the Lord your God every day  of your life, if you keep the commandments, then you will have a long life and live in a land flowing with milk and honey“. And we know that “this land flowing with milk and honey“, the Promised Land of the Old Covenant, was the prefiguration of Heaven, where the wedding feast of the sacrificed and risen Lamb, Jesus Our Lord, is celebrated in the presence of angels and saints[6]. We anticipate these wedding feasts of the Lamb in each of our daily or Sunday Eucharists when we participate in them with faith, sacredness and concern to die with Christ and thus enter into the paschal mystery that we celebrate.

The Church is therefore aware that the man of our time is once again at the crossroads of two paths: that of Life, whose name is risen Jesus, or that of spiritual death, that of the soul, which leads to eternal death. Indeed, dear Guides of Europe, how can we not be struck by vertigo in front of the Promethean claim of contemporary man? When man rejects the Commandments of God by deliberately fighting them or ignoring them, he aspires to define himself without the help of anyone, and it is then that he knows the horrors of Sartre’s imprisonment, the horrible saying of which you know: “Hell is other people“! The great current debates on the protection of life, marriage and family all have the same origin, which you must clearly define and study in order to offer to the Guides whom God has entrusted to you clear answers, which constitute a path of light, that of the Truth of the Gospel.

You know it: the Rangers’ spirituality is steeped in the symbolism of light. First of all, the Rangers who commit themselves receive an oil lamp; the ceremony of the Ranger’s Commitment contains these magnificent words:

Light this lamp, symbol of fragile and precious life. May its flame, even exposed to all winds, never be extinguished. May it bring warmth, light and joy to those around you; may it reassure and guide those who are on the road and illuminate your path to the Father’s house.”

And then you put on the rosewood scarf: silent, it is red like a burning fire, like love; this colour is that of the silent ember that only a lasting fire can provide, an ember that makes no noise but can come to life to become a burning fire. For each of you, this scarf is a sign of service and humility. Last but not least, you are called to the daily “Moment of Light” to develop this unique relationship that unites you to God since your baptism, in silence, meditation and adoration. Here in Paray-le-Monial, in the City of the Sacred Heart, I would like to quote this word that Our Lord Jesus Christ addressed to Saint Catherine of Siena: “The baptism given to Christians and to everyone who wants to receive it, in which the soul unites itself to my blood, is the baptism of water, but the water is united to blood and fire. It is to make you understand that, from my open side, blood with the water flew out»[7]. So let me ask you this question: “Guides of Europe, do you have the desire of God? This desire, symbolized by light and fire, is a “lively flame of love[8], the one that set fire to Saint Margaret Mary and Saint Catherine of Siena[9]. All Rangers have a common symbol, the oil lamp, and, moreover, is not a unit composed of Rangers called “a Fire“? Why is that the case? Because, as Jesus says in the Gospel: “You do not light a lamp to put it under the bushel; you put it on the lamp post, and it shines for all those in the house. Likewise, let your light shine before men: then, seeing what you do well, they will give glory to your Father who is in heaven[10]. Each of you, with your talents, strengths and weaknesses, is therefore a lit lamp, which is called to spread its light around it for all those you meet, especially the youngest ones, wolvets and girl guides, of whom you are the leaders. A few years ago, German high school students, who were taking the equivalent of the A Level, had to reflect on this subject of philosophy: Can we talk about a human nature? Let us be clear: can we claim, like Jean-Paul Sartre, that human nature does not exist[11], or, on the contrary, affirm unambiguously that human nature is the garment of God’s Love, and that man, created in the image and likeness of God in Jesus Christ, is promised, not to nothing, but to eternal life? Yes, at the crossroads of these two paths, we realize that the great current debates on marriage, family and the protection of life will always lead to the dramatic deadlocks that we see today as long as our contemporaries do not recognize that the dignity of every human person, whatever he may be, from the embryo huddled in the womb of his mother to the person who will cross the threshold of bodily death, is based on The One whom Saint John Paul II had called “the Redeemer of man, Jesus Christ“. At the dawn of his long pontificate, he said: “In the words of the Second Vatican Council: “Through the Incarnation, the Son of God has united himself in a certain way with every man[12]… This is about man in all his truth, in his full dimension. It is not a question of the “abstract” man, but of the real one, the “concrete”, “historical” man. It is about each man, because each one has been included in the mystery of the Redemption, and Jesus Christ has united with each one forever through this mystery[13].

Thus, the Church will never cease to proclaim that, in dead and risen Christ, human nature has been elevated to an unequalled dignity. Therefore, the absurd and evil theory of gender, the so deleterious so-called marriage “for all”, deep and continuous sedation which is only a masked form of euthanasia, the so-called “assisted” suicide, assisted medical procreation-MPS, surrogate gestation-MPS, human genome manipulations and transhumanism are all diabolical means aiming at the destruction of human nature. Moreover, following the example of Professor Jérôme Lejeune, it must be repeated both in time and against time that the culture of death is based on abortion, which Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta rightly described as “the great destroyer of peace[14]. If the Christian education, which you implement in Guiding, complementary to the education received in the family, does not promote the civilization of life, waves of calamities will carry away what remains of Europe’s foundations. And these foundations are those of Christianity. Indeed, it is not for nothing that, in the ceremonial of the Ranger’s Commitment, you give the Guides three examples of Christian women who were proclaimed co-patrons of Europe by Saint John Paul II: Saint Brigit of Sweden, the Italian Saint Catherine of Siena and the German Saint Teresa Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein), all three dedicated to the Lord in religious life. In this regard, I would like to remind you that, in a speech addressed to the International Guide Conference in 2015, Pope Francis encouraged you to go against the current of a world where, and I quote him, “the ideologies that are most contrary to nature and to God’s plan for the family and marriage are spreading“. The Holy Father has given you the mission of educating young girls to beauty and to the greatness of their vocation as women, in a fair and differentiated relationship between men and women: “Your pedagogy“, he said, “must be clear on these questions[15].

The Guide is called to gradually discover that the Law of God, which is expressed in the Decalogue, corresponds to the education of the heart, and that “the measure of Love is to love without measure“, as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said. With regard to your specific vocation as women, remember the expression of Pope Saint John Paul II, that remained famous: “You are the sentinels of the invisible[16]. Indeed, when a woman prays, she knows how to find the words she addresses to the Lord, because they come from her heart. It is precisely this interiority that allows her to see with her heart, an interiority that also allows her to deeply mark the environment in which she lives, even if it is in the greatest discretion. This is undoubtedly one of the particular features that justifies the existence of Girl Guiding, quite distinct from Boy Scouting. Let us return for a moment to the origins of Guiding: when, in 1909, during a large gathering of a thousand boy scouts at Crystal Palace in London, a group of young girls spontaneously appeared before Lord Robert Baden-Powell and asked him to join the Scout movement he had just created, he did not hesitate at all. And yet, he entrusted women, in this case his sister Agnes, then his wife Olave Saint-Clair Soames, with the task of developing Guiding pedagogy. Guiding is therefore not a substitute of scouting for girls; nor is it an adaptation of the Scout Method to female psychology; it is much more than that: with the help of Father Jacques Sevin, the two founders of Catholic Guiding, Albertine Duhamel and Marie Diémer, understood that Baden-Powell’s pedagogical intuitions had to be inserted into the woman’s specific vocation, which I would like to summarize in these terms: the woman’s mission is to take care of the other through the sincere and selfless gift of herself, which reveals God’s sensitivity towards humanity[17]. It is therefore not surprising that the Guide Law contains two amendments compared to the Scout Law: article 4, which refers to kindness, and article 5 to generosity. The particular vocation of women, inscribed in their being, is the service of Life. And we know that this vocation, which is also a mission, is usually realized in marriage: how many Girl Guides of Europe, who are now wives, mothers and grandmothers, can testify that, in marriage, every human being discovers himself chosen and loved: a husband in his wife’s eyes and vice versa; a child in the beloved face of a father and mother… Marriage is therefore a path to holiness in its own right, for there is no Christian marriage except in the will of the spouses to realize in their entire married life the attitude of Christ the Bridegroom towards the Church-Wife: this is the profound meaning of the sacrament that unites man and woman for life. Likewise, how many Girl Guides of Europe, who have consecrated themselves to God, can bear witness to the fruitfulness of their lives! I know that your movement is rich in vocations: many Girl Guides of Europe, who have entered various contemplative and apostolic religious communities, can attest that consecrated women do not renounce the gift of themselves that characterizes their femininity; on the contrary, they manifest that they are called, by grace, to another form of gift: they fulfil their vocation to Love by giving themselves totally to Christ, their Spouse, and they expect from Him alone the Love that makes them live. Moreover, they also realize their vocation to motherhood through spiritual motherhood: indeed, everything that, in one way or another, makes the other grow and helps him to build himself in his person, is a form of motherhood. In conclusion, as the Church says through the voice of Pope Saint John Paul II: “We can see, in these two different ways, marriage and consecrated life, in these two “vocations for life” of every woman, a profound complementarity[18].

Two years ago, I said to your Scout Rover Brothers of Europe, who are currently in Vézelay: “You have the energy and faith, and your attachment to Jesus Christ will allow you to rebuild the Christian heritage and European society“. Thinking of them, I leave you this additional message by quoting a man of honour, Hélie de Saint Marc, the Catholic officer who has never broken his word: “Women bequeath Christian civilization to their children, through the gestures that shape their being… The soul of a people is written on their faces[19]. We spontaneously think of Saint Joan of Arc, who carried high the standard of faith, on which were inscribed the names of Jesus and Mary, and remains for all young French girls the model of fidelity to the ancestral soil.

Dear Girl Guides of Europe, “the holier a woman is, the more woman she is[20]“, said the writer Léon Bloy. And in the hierarchy of holiness, it is precisely a woman, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who is at the top. She precedes you on the path of holiness. Listen to her; learn from her: in her lies the fully realized woman, in her lies the secret of true joy and peace. When you leave a friend for a long time, you want to leave him the most beautiful jewel of your soul’s treasure, the one that sparks in moments of darkness, distress and loneliness, and that is much more than a “gift memory”. As a token of my deep friendship, I offer you the jewel that sets my pastor’s heart ablaze: it is the name of the Blessed Virgin: “MARY”, in Latin: “MARIA“, whose spiritual meaning comes from the letters that compose it:

First of all, the “M” of “Maria”. “M” as in “Mother of God“: “Under the shelter of your mercy, we take refuge, Mother of God… “says the prayer of the Sub tuum, which is the oldest prayer addressed to Our Lady, since it dates from the end of the 3rd century.

Then, the “A” as in Angelus, which is the common prayer of the Community of Rangers. The poet Paul Claudel evoked it in these terms: “It is noon. I see the church open. I have to get in. Mother of Jesus Christ, I do not come to pray. I have nothing to offer and nothing to ask for. I only come, Mother, to look at you. ”

Then, the “R” of the word “Rosary“: “The Rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, who loves his Mother so much“, said Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. So, pray your rosary well every day, as the Blessed Virgin asked us to do in Lourdes and Fatima.

Then the “I” as “Immaculate Conception“: this letter “I” reminds us that “God chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and immaculate before His face thanks to His love[21]: take and wear on you the “Miraculous Medal”, and say every day this invocation that the Blessed Virgin Mary taught to Saint Catherine Labouré: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you“.

Finally, the letter “A” as “Assumption“: Saint John contemplated the Queen of Angels and Saints: “A great sign appeared in heaven: a Woman, with the sun as her cloak, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars[22], the twelve stars of the Christian European flag! A Doctor of the Church of the 4th century, St Gregory of Nazianze, called Mary “Mother of the King of the whole universe“, and also “Mother Virgin, who gave birth to the King of the whole world[23]. Indeed, Mary is Queen because she is the Mother of God, but as Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus also said, “We know well that the Blessed Virgin is the Queen of heaven and earth. But she is more Mother than Queen.[24]..”.

Humbly begging you to forgive me for this long homily, which is like a father’s expression to his children, I conclude with this prayer : “In your admirable wisdom, Lord, you have brought forth from the womb of the Virgin Mary the most beautiful child of men, Jesus Christ; through the intercession of his Mother, grant the Girl Guides of Europe the joy of serving you, make the splendour of your holiness shine in their hearts, and give them a chaste and immaculate heart.



[1] Third apparition, June 1675.

[2] Friedrich Nietzsche, Le gai savoir, (1882), translation Patrick Wotling, §125, Edition Flammarion, 1992, p 161.

[3] Father Jacques Sevin, S.J., Le Scoutisme, Etude documentaire et applications, Edition Spes, 1930.

[4] 1 John 4:20.

[5] 1 John 4:21.

[6] See Revelation. 19:1-10.

[7] See St. Catherine of Siena, The LXXV Dialogue.

[8] “The bright flame of love” is an expression of Saint John of the Cross, appeared in a poem he composed in 1584-1585, and gave rise to the writing of a book that explains it.

[9] Let us note that, in God, desire and love are but one and the same reality: “Desire in God is appropriate to the Father as to his principle, to the Son as his accomplished model (he came into the world to fulfil this desire, he therefore gives form and existence to this desire), and to the Holy Spirit as to the One who arouses in us the impetus and animates it continually by bringing us to the Son, who leads us to the Father” (Mother Marie des Anges Cayeux, O.P, Désirer d’un grand désir – Une dynamique de perfection au cœur de la doctrine de Catherine de Sienne, (Paris, Le Cerf Patrimoines, 2018, p. 143).

[10] Mt 5:15-16.

[11] Jean-Paul Sartre denies human nature in his book L’existentialisme est un humanisme published in 1946 (new edition, Paris, Gallimard, 1996). Sartrean existentialism takes as its starting point that God does not exist. As a result, there is no longer any human nature, no moral standards, no good or evil a priori. Indeed, there is no longer any supreme intelligence that could have forged these notions. It is up to man to decide what is right, what is wrong, and what man should be.

[12] Second Vatican Council: Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, nr. 22.

[13] John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptor Hominis, March 4th 1979, nr. 8.

[14] Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Speech given on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, October 17th 1979.

[15] Pope Francis, Address to the International Guide Conference, June 26th 2015.

[16] John Paul II, homily delivered in Lourdes, August 15th 2004.

[17] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Mulieris dignitatem, August 15th 1988; Letter to Women, June 29th 1995.

[18] Mulieris dignitatem, nr. 21.

[19] Hélie de Saint Marc, Mémoires – Les Champs de Braise, Perrin Editions, 1989 ; reprint: Les Arènes Editions, 2013.

[20] Léon Bloy, La femme pauvre, Paris, Mercure de France, 1897 ; reprint: Gallimard, 1980.

[21] Ephesians 1, 4.

[22] Revelation 12, 1.

[23] St Gregory of Nazianzus, cf. Poemata dogmatica, XVIII, v. 58, in Patrologia Graeca XXXVII, 485.

[24] Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, Last interviews August 21st, 1897, in Mother Agnes of Jesus’ Yellow Notebook. Cf. J’entre dans la vie-Derniers entretiens, Paris, Desclée de Brouwer, 2002.

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