Brothers and sisters,
How could our hearts not be overwhelmed when we have just lost one of the fathers in our diocese? We sensed that the time had come for him to pass from this world to the Father, but since he had handed over his office as Bishop of Nanterre, everyone found, I know, strength and hope in fidelity of his affection, of his monastic prayer in Ligugé, of his ever so lively questioning about the Gospel to be announced and the world to be evangelized. But here it is that François Favreau, our father and our brother, having loved us to the end of his earthly journey, will henceforth continue to accompany us by preparing a place for us with God and by making grow in us the taste for life in fullness. .
1. Project the light of eternity on our life
In a moving text that he wrote three years ago – and that all priests, deacons and lay people on ecclesial mission in the diocese will receive in a few days – Bishop Favreau returned to the spiritual significance of his terrible car accident on the 9th. December 1964, of which his face but especially his heart have always kept the stigmata. “Here is how I will classify in what seems to me to be a ‘lesson of my accident’, three elements among all those which make a life: passion for eternity; passion for life; “Today” alone is given to me ”. He continues: “Since death is tomorrow and this deadline is what we were born for, then let us turn our eyes to this goal of our life and draw the consequences of our faith”. A priest of the diocese confided to me two days ago: “Father Favreau was convinced that one of the deep reasons for the vocations crisis today is the lack of faith of the faithful in eternal life”. For Bishop Favreau, it was obviously not a question of promoting the flight from the present time but of “projecting the light of eternity on our life”. This is undoubtedly the secret of the true apostolic freedom evoked by Saint Paul: the joy of walking and guiding this earth towards the heavenly Jerusalem, the grace of preparing for each and all a place in the Father’s home.
2. Passion for eternity and passion for ecclesial communion
Among the lights of eternity which are likely to illuminate our temporal life, there is this affirmation of Jesus so strong that it has entered everyday language: “in my Father’s house there are many mansions. “. Bishop Favreau’s “passion for eternity” was expressed in particular by his passion for ecclesial communion. It is the wealth of peace of heavenly Jerusalem which is outlined through time in the house of the Lord under construction. Many have told me how much they had been marked and stimulated by the confidence of Bishop Favreau, by his respect for everyone, by his authority full of gentleness, in the image of his dear patron saint François de Sales, by his way of being. to do, like Saint Paul, “everything to all”. Bishop builder if ever there was one, Bishop Favreau knew that ecclesial communion is neither dreamed nor decreed but is built, step by step, concretely, seriously, by taking the time to dig furrows and foundations, listening to the Lord who speaks through each member of his body. This is, it seems to me, the meaning of the synodal adventure lived by the diocese, of which it is precious that the final title – Pauline -, “Because of the Gospel”, resounds today in the Church. liturgy of the Word. What has since been built in the fraternity of presbytery, in the fraternity of deacons, in pastoral animation teams, with the laity in ecclesial mission, sketches the spirit of synodality that the whole Church is called to foster in this time, at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel.
3. The happiness of proclaiming the Gospel
For ecclesial communion only outlines the peace and joy of heavenly Jerusalem to the extent that it is open “to the joys and hopes, to the sorrows and to the anxieties of the men of this time, especially the poor”, to repeat the comments. first words of the constitution Gaudium and Spes (1), that insofar as it cultivates the happiness of proclaiming the Gospel, evoked in the hollow by the cry of alarm of Saint Paul: “woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel! “. One could enumerate many charitable and missionary initiatives of Mgr Favreau, taken “because of the Gospel”, starting with the innovative and daring project of Our Lady of Pentecost at La Défense, where his episcopate began in the Hauts- de-Seine by the reception celebration at the CNIT. Let us rather listen to what Mgr Favreau himself said during his sixty years of priesthood ten years ago: “The Word of God is a Word for life, for the fulfillment of man and for success. of creation. Let’s welcome it, let’s practice it! At the heart of all my interventions, all the advice given, there is this response from Jesus to Thomas asking him what to do when he announced his tragic departure: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Jesus is the way, let’s follow him. He travels with us, mysteriously but really, I witness it. He advises us to travel by caravan because traveling alone is dangerous. The journey of life is a huge adventure ”. To all contemporary Thomases, here we are called more than ever, at the school of Bishop Favreau, with the gentleness and strength of Saint Francis de Sales, to announce that Jesus is the path that leads to the definitive homeland, the truth that liberates, superabundant life.
Among the many texts that Bishop Favreau leaves us and that we will surely have at heart in the near future to collect and assemble, there are a certain number of prayers. Let Mgr Favreau still teach us to pray, like his Master, on this day when we say goodbye to him: “Very good God, Father of Jesus Christ our Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us … Give us the spirit of wisdom. and intelligence, the wisdom to trust in the lights that the Word of God brings to us thanks to the Church, the intelligence to understand that, in these lights, the paths of our fidelities are illuminated and there is real life . Give us the spirit of advice and strength, advice, this ability to mature our decisions to avoid running headlong or doing things as we see fit, the strength that lies in the humility of doing well what we have to do and in the courage to keep our word. Give us the spirit of knowledge and filial affection, the knowledge of the signs of the times and of the hour of your will, the filial affection that delivers from fear because you love us. Give us the spirit of adoration, that wonder that you, our Father with the Son and the Spirit, are God, the almighty and all love. Come Holy Spirit, come, we open the door of our hearts to you. Amen ”.
Bishop Favreau’s text: