|4th International Day of Prayer, Amsterdam 2000|
I would like to tell you a simple story about Augustin, a little boy from Paris, whom the Lord has entrusted to my care. Every afternoon I have the privilege to look after him.
Since his accident the loving hand of God and the motherly presence of Our Lady showed themselves again and again in Augustin’s life. However, not by taking away his suffering but by giving him every moment the grace to accept his suffering with courage and even with joy. I could really say that a deep joy is living in his heart, which is reflected on his face.
On the same day of Augustin’s accident his parents made this tragedy into an offering to God for a cousin of theirs. He is a family man and an alcoholic. On the day after his accident Augustin had received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, which became for him a wonderful source of strength. Yet some months after the accident his parents asked the brothers and sisters of a religious community in Paray-le Monial to pray for him as he seemed to have lost almost all joy. There the Lord gave them two passages from Holy Scripture, which happened to be part of the readings during Christmas, which is also Augustin’s birthday: “ I say to you, when you believe, you will see the glory of God” and from Zechariah’s song: ”And you, little child, you shall be called Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord, to prepare a way for Him.” (Lk 1,76)
Augustin has a very special relationship to the Holy Virgin. For example after his accident he would allow no one to touch him, but he kept an icon of the Mother of God close to him, whenever his parents would give it to him. Every day the little boy must take strong and bitter tasting medicines against epilepsy, to prevent cramps. Along with the medicine, they give him water from Lourdes to drink and also his parents pray for him a Hail Mary. This gives him great joy. I am always astonished to see the joy on Augustin’s face when he hears the Hail Mary at the moment he has to take his medicine.
The Saints also play an important part in the boy’s life, especially the little St Theresa, of whom he even possesses a relic, and also Padre Pio. When his parents were looking for a young girl to look after him they prayed a novena to Padre Pio, without saying anything about it to Augustin and the other children. Nobody knows why, but since that moment Augustin often repeats the words: “Pio! Pio! Pio!, as if he wanted to ask the saint to help him to make his suffering into an offering to God, to become a little coredeemer. After this novena the Lord has called me to look after Augustin and to take care of him. This has touched me deeply because Padre Pio is like a spiritual father in heaven for me.
The Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate grants with tender hands again and again the graces he needs to carry his cross. I often experience this with him. In spite of his severe handicap Augustin is a very cheerful child and through the deep joy he emanates he attracts many people, especially those whose hearts have hardened.
At this time the boy prepares himself for first communion and one can feel that he has a deep longing to receive Jesus in his heart. We can only pray that he may receive this great sacrament, when Jesus deems it the right moment. Let this little handicapped child be an example for us, to go also the way of coredemption together with Our Lady and to make our sufferings into an offering, especially for the priests.