Blessed Nicolas Barré
Nicolas Barré was proclaimed Blessed in Rome on 9 March 1999 by Pope John Paul II. Here is the homily delivered by the Pope at that celebration which was attended by IJS sisters and friends from all around the world.
Nicolas Barré, apostle and disciple of Christ, following in the footsteps of the humble Saint of Charity, Francis of Paula, contributed in a very significant and unique way to manifesting the mystery and mission of the Church.
He awakened among the faithful, especially among educators, a real aspiration to holiness and a strong desire for conversion.
He was convinced that this is brought about by the grace of God in those who, forgetting themselves, dedicate themselves to the sanctification of their neighbour. It is their life as apostles that intensifies their ever closer and fuller attachment to Christ.
He used to say: ‘God is holy, and it is He who makes people saints, but for us, it is in making saints that we become saints.’
He gave himself passionately to proclaiming Jesus Christ to those who did not know Him, to those who had forgotten Him, and, in a preferential way, to the poor.
This is a sure way to holiness offered to everyone: to search, in all possible ways, to help others to open their lives to God.
In carrying out this mission, he gave an innovative response by awakening apostolic-educative vocations for deprived young people. Led by the Spirit of God and attentive to the signs of the times, he took the risk of offering to these young educators a new way of living community, accepting the insecurity of a life that risks all for the gospel.
He communicated to them a spirituality where the contemplation of ‘the Son of God who became man and even a little child’ nourished and intensified their apostolic action. In Jesus, the child, ‘God, who is supremely great, takes pleasure, nevertheless, in bending down to the little ones.’ In this way, He shows us how He still wishes to reveal His Love, so that all, even the most lowly, can have life in its fullness.
Nicolas Barré accompanies educators on the way of abandonment to Divine Providence, disinterestedness, humility and the love which is that of an apostle, capable of hoping against all hope, even in trials, contradictions and persecutions.
“They are in the hand of God, like a pen in the hand of the writer.”
In his own life, Nicolas Barré experienced great physical, moral, spiritual and apostolic trials. He bore them with faith and even learned to make of them places of the mysterious encounter with God, which he expresses in his prayer:
“My God, I want nothing more,
I desire nothing more,
so as to be able to desire what You desire
and as You desire it.”
With great goodness, but also with firmness, he accompanied those who came to him for counsel, on the way of peaceful abandonment to God’s guidance. He sought:
“to discern with each one the fruit that God invited them to bear,
to preserve this fruit and to bring it to maturity.”
In our world, where so many people despair of ever finding meaning in their lives, may we, in the Church, be able to offer expertise in humanity, as Nicolas Barré did, opening to people the happiness of walking together towards the perfect realisation of the mystery of the Incarnation.
Rome, 9 March 1999