Saturday, September 15, 2012
Un Petrifie Vivant: Pierre Nicolet ( a living dead Pierre Nicolet)
Un Petrifie Vivant: Pierre Nicolet ( A living dead: Pierre Nicolet) The word “petrified” refers to the fact that Pierre Nicolet was paralyzed for most of his life and unable to move at all. He looked like a statue of stone and could hardly speak because of his clenched jaws. The book is almost unbearable to read. How is it possible to celebrate a life spent in a bed while completely paralyzed? In the background there is the presence of Jeanne, Pierre’s sister who sacrificed herself to become a caregiver to her handicapped brother. She gave up her dreams of starting a family. The purpose of this book was to share how much a very sick man can give to the world. You might believe that because of his illness he is totally impotent. It is not true. A sick person is an intermediary between the living and God. He is a priest. His sufferings allow him to rise to God. As Pierre Nicolet told Madeleine: “I have started my eternity with God” Pierre suffered for 28 long years. He has been surrounded and sustained by a lot of friends but the stress on Jeanne was extraordinary. At one point Jeanne was caring for both her brother and her sick mother. Jeanne had to work to make a living. At 12pm every day she ran back home to prepare lunch then ran back to work. In the evening she had to take care of both and until late at night continued to care for the family. When the mother died, people who witnessed the scene said it was the most terrible event they had ever witnessed, the dead mother in her bed and in the nearby bed, Pierre paralyzed, sick and crying softly. Madeleine asked Pierre: do you find this too long? No he said I have many things to do, I pray for all, blessed be God. The room of this sick man became a refuge for many people, a sanctuary. People would come to pay their respects but at the end they would ask for his spiritual help and they would leave having received much: The roles had been reversed. At the school of suffering, an extraordinary ability to understand people can be acquired. Madeleine said” you are happy! And he answered: “Yes, I have started my eternity” “I cannot move, I am outside the world. I breathe God to give God.” There is in the book an incredible dialogue between Madeleine and Pierre when they both realize that Christ is in each of us. Crucified Christ was Pierre Nicolet and he says;” Christ is in us, in me”. And Madeleine answers: “Christ is in each sick person” Madeleine had come to help him, at the end she realized, he was the one who strengthened her. And she noticed what a strength a sick person has when he/she lives in Christ. As it was said earlier, the sick person is a priest, “separated”, a mediator like Moses with his arms in a cross. In Numbers 16.48, Moses tells Aaron to stand between the living and the dead. Pierre told Madeleine of the moment when he realized he was a “living dead”. He said that first he cursed like Job and Jonas and felt he had been buried alive in a sepulcher. One day the sepulcher opened and Pierre told Madeleine: “God rose me up” and he understood he was going to live, yes he would be living. “Then I rose up from the abyss, it took time for me to spread my wings and contemplate God” He explained to Madeleine how he started to fly away from his suffering bed and the world to contemplate God. Peace took over Pierre’s soul and brought security to his shaky faith and “my heart suddenly instead of collapsing on itself, opened itself to the world of suffering. I looked at God,at my brothers and did not look any more at myself. I was saved from myself (he repeated this twice to Madeleine). I became like an aviator flying above the clouds. Spiritual flying is difficult because you are afraid to think of the past.” He said that at this height he looked at the world and he was at peace. A sick person is outside the world. Madeleine wrote that Pierre had acquired a 6th sense. Pierre was hoping for a cure that never came. Pierre explained to Madeleine the meaning of prayer, that it is an adoration, to adore without words, and open one’s heart. Pierre told Madeleine that a prayer is “love for the entire world”. Madeleine writes that sick people should be seen as a source of strength for our crumbling world. The book on Pierre’s martyrdom was written after Pierre passed away in 1949. In the last 10 years of his life, he had suffered many ills in addition to paralysis, Madeleine saw him before the war and when she met him again in 1946, she could not recognize him. He had become blind, his head had grown enormously, he was in constant pain. He knew of the sufferings inflicted on the world during the war, the bombing of cities, the holocaust, and he said that his sufferings were nothing compared to what so many people had endured. “Don’t have any pity for me, I participated in Europe’s agony” Pierre told her that to be sick is indeed a job. Illness is an art, it is like a seed to be grown. “Illness is like patience of patience!” Pierre tried to incarnate the characters of from the Bible (not only Jesus), in order to live the Bible more fully and understand its meaning. It means if you are sick you incarnate one of the biblical heroes like Job, and you become part of the bible's architecture. God can write in your heart the life of a patriarch. When Pierre lost his eyesight, he thought about the blind person in the gospel story. Pierre told Madeleine: “Let us identify ourselves with one of the heroes of the old law” His message seemed to be: Don’t do anything for yourself, do it for the others. For instance he would receive readers but he would ask them to read something they were interested in. The key was to receive guests for themselves not for himself. Pierre had a fountainhead within himself. He had a lot of ideas about the world's situation and Madeleine was astonished how much he knew of the political situation in spite of his illness. Pierre told her that he felt independent because of his complete acceptance of his dependence. She mentioned to him what she had discovered about St John Chrisostom: You got to give up trying to understand. Pierre: ”I tried to understand God’s actions and to adhere to them. To know God’s plan and respond.” And “We cannot judge the divine will. The overall outline of the world is beyond us. The overall outline of a life is beyond us” Pierre had been a happy child when he grew up in the countryside in Switzerland and he had dreams for himself to become a lawyer. Instead he spent most of his life “nailed” to a bed of suffering. Madeleine believes that he found a measure of happiness and peace. Pierre has left us a message that whatever suffering we might endure in our life there is a way to free ourselves by giving ourself to God. That Madeleine happened to meet Pierre and collect his thoughts is a great blessing. How Pierre found God and spread God around him, how many lives he touched and continues to touch.