Official website of the Anne Guigné’s Friends Association

Association Childhood and Saintliness

Interview with Father Guilmard, o.s.b. (Zenit, October 18th 2007)

 

Creating a group of children capable of leading their little companions to follow Jesus was what Renée de Tryon-Montalembert had in mind when she founded the association Childhood and Saintliness. This association organizes symposia (Lisieux, Paray-le Monial, Lourdes). Father Jacques-Marie Guilmard, monk of Solesmes and Vice President of the association presents the aims of these symposia in an interview with Cécile Laurent.

 

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Cécile Laurent – You have founded an association Childhood and Saintliness, with what aim?

Père J.-M. Guilmard – In 2005, Mlle de Tryon-Montalembert (+) and her friends founded this association. In order to define it, I quote the founder: “In the heart of the new world which is opening up, let there be a multitude of children capable of leading their little companions to follow Lord Jesus who loves children and the Virgin Mary, mother and queen of the very young.” God has placed his grace in children’s hearts and it is our duty, without delay, to make it bear fruit in saintliness, that is to say, in the perfection of love.

Cécile Laurent – How can the organization of a symposium contribute to the saintliness of children?

Père J.-M. Guilmard – Each year since its foundation, our association has organized a symposium for families, educators and those in religious orders. From the very beginning, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, who was then Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, accepted to accord us his patronage. A symposium supposes, first of all, teaching. This is essential if we are to lead children to saintliness. Indeed, doctrinal teaching is indispensable to provide structure to their faith and to construct their intellectual and spiritual personality. There is no saintliness without reference to divine revelation, which has been well assimilated by intelligence and then put into practice in everyday life. But a symposium is also for us, the constitution of a “Family”. Indeed, during several days, the participants are united by the love that Jesus’ heart has aroused in them with regard to children. People, convinced that the saintliness of children will save the world and bring about the parousie, put in common their faith, their work and their prayer.At the same time, the children follow a retreat adapted to their age, with games,prayers and teaching. Thus a sympoisium is an opportunity both for children and for adults, to learn, warm up their hope and feel in communion with the Church in the service of children’s saintliness.

Cécile Laurent – But is the saintliness of children really possible?

Père J.-M. Guilmard - Most of the time one knows that children must be prepared for saintliness but one thinks implicitly that this will not occur before adulthood. In fact, the association takes its origin from the radiance of the Venerable Anne de Guigné, who died at age of ten and a half. Her example, gentle and pervasive as a perfume, can and must be imitated by all the children in the world. Anne’s “saintliness” consisted of a balance between nature and grace, where her love of Jesus, her love for her family, the poor and, above all, the sinners found a never-decreasing vigour. The heroic nature of Anne de Guigné’s virtues was recognised by John-Paul II. But, in fact, there are many exemplary children who prove that saintliness is possible from an early age: Nelly Organ in Ireland, the Venerable Antonietta Meo (Nennolina) in Rome, Camille Paris in France, Blessed Jacinthe and Francisco in Portugal, Blessed Laura Vicuña in South America and, years ago, the young king Saint Louis.

Cécile Laurent – You said that the saintliness of children will save the world. How is this possible?

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Père J.-M. Guilmard - Children are first of all prophets of saintliness, as was St. John the Baptist (see Luke ch.1, v.76) since according to the declaration of our Lord: “The Kingdom of Heaven is for those who resemble them.” They show adults, with great pertinence, “the spirit of childhood” which is the basis of the message of St. Teresa of Lisieux. “I lost my chilhood” wrote Bernanos “I could only reconquer it by saintliness. When Satan’s reign will have ended, we will become children again”. Children also have a ministry of saintliness in awaking the spiritual paternity/maternity in the hearts of their parents which is so lacking today.Of course they are also missionaries for those around them: brothers, sisters and friends. Thus children are privileged actors in the accession to saintliness. But it is above all by their own saintliness that they save the world for all saintliness saves the world. There is a culture of death, but we should promote a culture of saintliness for children.

Cécile Laurent – Why do you think Jesus gives children as examples?

Père J.-M. Guilmard – Childhood is often defined by its external situation of poverty and submission; it is thus a model of confidence, but also of humility and obedience. However, the child is above all, the son. The child is defined before anything else by his status of son, that is to say, a double relationship which is the foundation of his identity: relationship with his earthly father and mother (from whom he receives human nature) and relationship with his heavenly father(of whom he receives the image) and this is why we love children. Every child has a strong resemblance to God his father through Jesus the only son. This resemblance is a magnificent treasure which Jesus gives as an example and we must give it its full value.

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Cécile Laurent – Why did you organize your symposium at Paray-le-Monial at least twice?

Père J.-M. Guilmard – During the 17th century, Paray le Monial was the place where the apparitions of the Sacred Heart to Marguerite-Marie took place. Jesus revealed to the saint the mysteries of his love both divine and human. The town of Paray has become a spiritual centre whose universal impact continues to grow. Jesus‘ heart reveals to us that God is love by the fact that this love was condemned to death in his son Jesus and that he is thus a redeeming love. In the heart of Christ, we have a sort of summary of faith. It is he whom we adore; by him we praise the father; he who saves us is the object of our hope.

Cécile Laurent – Could you give us the programme of one of your symposia, for instance that of Paray-le-Monial?

Père J.-M. Guilmard – Willingly. In 2007, we chose the theme: “Let little children come unto me”. Children have an important place in Jesus’ heart. He is for them the source of the life of grace and saintliness. This life which starts with baptism must blossom into saintliness in childhood and continue to develop until it reaches the glory of heaven. Numerous and varied lecturers spoke on the theme, for instance, Mgr Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, Madame Marie-Joëlle Guillaume, Fathers Edouard Marot, rector of the sanctuary of Paray-le-Monial, Stan Rougier, Thévenin and Labaky. Madame Anne Alméras, president of our association spoke about Anne de Guigné, who loved Jesus so much and can guide children to acquire humility and obedience.

Informations on the Association website: Enfance et Sainteté