In the evening the Icon of the Mother of God had to travel over 30 kms. It left the XV district of Paris to go to the parish of St. Geogre in Belloy-en-France, a place in the far north outskirts of the capital, near Chantilly and Senlis. Bernard had been stuck in Paris traffic jams. He came late. There were about on hundred people in the church.
The Pastor, fr. Francois Scrive, celebrated the Holy Mass at 8 PM with the service of waiting. Just before 9.00 PM four parishoners solemnly carried the Mother of God into the church. She stood on the steps of the presbytery. The prayer vigil included the Loreto Litany and the Holy Rosary interweaved with beautiful old Marian songs in French and Latin. They renewed the Act of Subordinating the Protection of the Civilisation of Life and Love to the Mother of God. Then it was time for the most powerful moment of the evening – the adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and paying tribute to the Mother of God. The monstrance was place immediately in front of the Icon. There was a deep prayer silence, the moments of absolute concentration. Fr. Scrive had not experienced such a powerful moment with his congregation for a long time: “Both during the rosary and during adoration we could feel the presence of Our Lady. It was a great experience for me and the congregation.
Father Scrive had learnt about the peregrination from a woman from his parish. He did not take even five minutes to think. He was one of the first people to contact the organisers. The meeting with Our Lady was held on a day when the Church in France celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. It was an additional reason for joy.
The Parish of St. George in Belloy-en-France is not a typical French parish. It has cherished the Latin and Gregorian tradition. The former pastor, who worked here for 39 years changed little in its functioning when the post-Vaticanum II changes were coming into effect. The bishop respected the decision of his priest and when he retired the bishop looked for a successor who would be able to secure the continuity.
Fr. Scrive, born in Lille region, and developing his education in the Ukrainian Seminary in Rome, took up this task. He has kept the majority of the Latin liturgy as well as the traditional outfit for the priest and altar-boy. He became the pastor among the people who are devoted to the Church, in the very heart of families who often have ten, seven or five children.
It is the tradition in the parish to hold prayer vigils in defence of life. They take place in the first week of the Advent. This year the main subject will be laws which deform the notion of marriage. The Visit of Our Lady of Częstochowa has proved to be a perfect introduction into the time of a prayer opposition to the government decisions which harm the dignity of man so much.
Agata – the correspondent from France