French priest sheds light on the poverty of spirit

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By Michelle DeRoche

Contributing Writer

Father Jacques Philippe, religious author, preached an inspiring Lenten mission.  - Photo courtesy of frjacquesphilippe.com
Father Jacques Philippe, religious author, preached an inspiring Lenten mission.
– Photo courtesy of frjacquesphilippe.com

Fr. Jacques Philippe, a French religious author, visited Irving from March 2-5 to preach the parish Lenten mission at Mater Dei Latin Mass Parish.

Philippe is a priest of the Communauté des Béatitudes, or Community of the Beatitudes, an order founded in France in 1973 that follows Carmelite spirituality.  He is the author of books such as “Interior Freedom, Searching for and Maintaining Interior Peace” and “Time for God.” His most recent book, “Thirsting for Prayer,” was published in 2014.

The mission, open to parishioners and members of the public, was an opportunity for attendees to enrich their Lenten experience. Philippe introduced the theme of this mission, poverty of spirit, on the first night. On each of the following nights he discussed the theme in relation to God, others and oneself.

Philippe preached for an hour each night, with exposition and Confession available afterwards. Although Philippe speaks English well, a sister translated for him during his talks because he prefers to use French when preaching.

When reflecting on poverty of spirit in general, Philippe cited the Beatitudes where it says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The poor, he said, could include the weak, humiliated, oppressed, hungry, brokenhearted or those who live in solitude. The poor can also be anyone experiencing a difficult time.

Philippe said that humility and gentleness, which are aspects of poverty of spirit, come from two sources: the trials of life and a deep knowledge or experience of God.

Philippe focused on forgiveness when speaking about poverty of spirit in relation to others. He said that people should not judge or condemn others.  He added that it also takes courage to forgive. While one obstacle people have in forgiving is a legitimate need for justice, Philippe said to forgive someone is not to renounce justice.

Stephen Henderson, a sophomore who attended the mission and has read “Searching for and Maintaining Peace,” wrote in an email that Philippe helped to remind people about their limitations and turning to God.

“Fr. Philippe emphasized the importance of accepting one’s limitations and failures so as to cultivate a total dependence on God and not oneself,” Henderson said. “College is a time in which one focuses largely on self-improvement and laying a foundation for future success through one’s own efforts. Fr. Phillipe reminds us that we should allow any failures in our lives to remind us to turn to God for help.”

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