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A testimony by Fr. Jean-Romain Nioka

on Tuesday, 01 April 2008. Posted in Testimonies

During the month of February we had the joy to receive, for the first time, Fr. Jean-Romain Nioka from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Providentially he arrived in Rougemont and understood the great importance of the mission of the Pilgrims of St. Michael. This is the conference he gave on February 23, 2008 on the occasion of our monthly meeting in the House of the Immaculate in Rougemont.

I was ordained a priest on February 15, 1987. So on February 15, I had the joy of celebrating the 21st anniversary of my priestly life in this community of the Pilgrims of St. Michael. This made me very happy.

It has only been 23 days since I discovered this community of St. Michael. So, in the heart of this community, I am like a small child who has just been born and I still need to learn much. I can only make a testimony of what I have lived during these twenty-three days in the community of St. Michael. And that is what I will do.

And if you will permit me, I will use the Bible as my support... because the community of St. Michael is a Christian community that is devoted to the work of God. And all that God wanted to tell us, to transmit to us, can be found in this Book. For me it will be easier to support myself with the Bible.

I will speak about three points: the first one will be on a phrase that can be found at the entrance of the House of St. Michael, it is written: "A house to become saints". I believe that if we have invited you here, the reason above all others, is to invite you to become saints. If this is not so, I do not see a reason for your presence here.

For my second point, I want to speak about the community life that I have discovered in the heart of the Pilgrims. And after, I will speak about their mission: they are lay missionaries.

The last point (the third point), I will speak a little about the Michael Journal. I think that you have stolen something from us. Yes!

"A house to become saints"

It was a bit of an accident, the first few days when they brought me here. When I arrived at the reception area (in the House of St. Michael), as I am a priest, I was struck by the phrase: "A house to become saints". It was on the second of February that I read this phrase for the first time. But now I read it every day when I enter into this community, in this house, because it belongs to this family.

Our eyes are used to reading publicity in the world. Today, when we go out, we see publicity on the manner of dressing, of food, on electronics. This is modern society. But to find something about God, publicity on God, is practically impossible in a society where God is being eliminated. And even more so today when we say that religious education should not exist.

God does not have a place in our society of today. We must sometimes retreat from the world or go into a community like this where we can speak about God. In many places we hear about the great stars. For me the great star of this world is Jesus. Jesus who came for the great adventure, to the point that today He has captivated the entire world. So this is what made the disciples of Jesus, and we have put ourselves behind Jesus.

I say then that I had to come to this place, in the community of St. Michael, so that I could read this phrase: "A house to become saints". And I was very, very happy; since I am a priest. I told myself, if I am not on the road of sanctity, this occasion has been given to me to sanctify myself and to become a saint. As we can read on the wall, it says to "Build the Kingdom of the Immaculate". The Kingdom of the Immaculate, this kingdom without stain, without sin, this is the Kingdom of the Virgin Mary. And if we are saints, we inhabit this kingdom.

The notion of sanctity invokes ideas of perfection, of purity, of holiness. He who lives according to the laws of God is holy. We can define holiness only by going to the source, meaning God. God, who is holiness itself. Only God is holy. The holiness of God is part of His mystery. All that God possesses is riches and life, power and goodness. All is holiness in God. So we say: "Holy is His name." God is holy in His greatness and in His power.

We say and sometimes sing: "Worship God in His holy Temple, worship God in the Heaven of His power, worship God by glowing actions; worship God according to His grandeur." God is Holy in all that He is, in all that He does, in His goodness, love and forgiveness. This God is a God of gentleness. This God is a God of compassion. This God is the God of infinite mercy.

God wants to be known and honored as the only Holiness. God is very jealous. He is jealous to the point that He does not want us to love other gods. But still today we are building up other gods. We have our idols: money, for some it is a god, it is their god. Instead of putting their hope in God, the Creator, the God of goodness and power, some people have created gods of money or cars, of various material things that surround us. But still these material things are transient, passing. And God does not want us to have other gods besides Him. "You will have no other gods besides Me," He says.

God gave us a model of sanctity. We do not see God. He is invisible, but He became visible. How and for whom? By His Son that He sent amongst us. Through Jesus, God gives us a model of holiness. God then is Life, and the Love of God is manifested here: God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. Jesus, is the Incarnate Word. "Jesus took on all of our weaknesses, except sin," St. Paul tells us. Because Jesus came here on earth, He took our human condition. He lived like us, but without sin. His Life was and is, so that men of all ages have the example of perfection that God expects of each one of us. From which comes the invitation of Jesus: "Be holy, as I your Father am holy" (St. Luke 6, 16).

We have to understand that holiness is possible, because God called us. It is for everyone: priests, religious, Pilgrims, fathers, mothers, children; we are all called to holiness. Our essential vocation is unique: holiness. We say: All roads lead to Rome. I, as a priest in my mission, I have to go towards holiness. The father of a family (or the mother of a family) should search to join this road. He has the vocation to be fertile, to multiply the earth, but it does not suffice to stay at this level. He should climb the summit of holiness. We are called to holiness. Here is our essential vocation; we should not make a mistake.

God, who loves us, never asks for the impossible. Never would our Father who loves us ask us for something impossible. We can attain it, but not alone. It is only if we allow He who is the Master of holiness, Christ, to guide us in all confidence. It is He who told us: "Without Me, you can do nothing."

Without Jesus we cannot arrive to holiness, because He is the way; it is He who guides us. It is like a person cannot pretend he is a Pilgrim and do the apostolate on his own. A Pilgrim is someone who is sent. And in order to arrive to holiness, we should be guided by He who is holiness Himself: Christ.

We could say holiness is difficult. But the Lord Jesus told us that He cannot ever ask us something that is impossible. So then holiness is possible; it is not an illusion. We must put ourselves on the road and we will arrive to holiness. God gives us the means to reach holiness. He cannot invite us to do something without the means to reach it. We cannot respond to something, someone cannot ask us to do something, without making an association to the means, or the way, to do it.

The sacraments, channels of grace

We also can arrive at holiness; the Lord has given us the means. What are these means with which we can arrive to holiness, in order to establish the Kingdom of the Immaculate? With the sacraments, God has communicated His grace and the gifts of Himself. The sacraments are channels of divine grace. It is by the sacraments that He gives us the graces we need to attain holiness.

It is by Baptism. We are born into divine life through Baptism. We are sinners, but when we receive Baptism, we enter into the family of the children of God. At that moment we are holy. It is only with time that we become false, that we are soiled in sin; we lose this image of holiness that we carry on the day of our Baptism. We can go to rediscover this holiness with the sacrament of Penance and reconciliation.

But unfortunately today, people do not go to Confession: "It is not the time; it's not this or that..." However we, as Christians, are Christians in Baptism. But there is this human weakness that lives in us and that causes us to fall. These days when we are sick, we run to the doctor so that he can heal our body. Also then when we become spiritually sick in our Christian life, we are invited to go to confession to recuperate the image of holiness.

Our food, the Eucharist

Another sacrament needed in order to establish the Kingdom of the Immaculate is the Eucharist. The Eucharist nourishes our soul and helps us to grow with eternal life in our mind. We go to eat a meal. Why? It is to rejuvenate our body. In order to grow in the faith of the children of God, this faith that permits us to move mountains, we should nourish ourselves not with pastries, but instead with the Body and Blood of Christ. Our nourishment is the Eucharist.

The sacrament of Confirmation

There is also the sacrament of Confirmation that gives us a supernatural strength in our daily lives against the forces of evil. We have said that we are in a world of conflict, and in the prayer of the Our Father, Our Lord tells us: "Lead us not into temptation." Everything is temptation today. But the Christian is someone who should stand upright. If we do not stand upright, with both feet on the ground, we will fall into temptation. Someone who is confirmed, who possesses the spirit of God, is someone who stands upright. Whatever the storm, he will resist. We can achieve this strength in the sacrament of Confirmation.

There is the sacrament of Holy Orders that I have received as a priest. Among you, there are those who are married through the use of the sacrament of Marriage. There is the sacrament of the sick as well. The sacraments respond to the particular needs of such and such circumstance of our lives and they give us the appropriate graces. Each sacrament is very important in our lives, and helps us to live the Kingdom of the Immaculate.

Our Mother, the Church

God gave us a Mother, that is the Church, who has the responsibility of sanctifying us by the Holy Spirit. The mission of the Church is to sanctify men. We are one Church, and the Church is the family of the children of God. It is of this family that we consist, and it is this family that the community of St. Michael is a part.

All those who are brought by the spirit of God are called "sons of God". Mothers have the charge of the home, to raise the children. Sometimes the father does not have the time; he is always gone on mission. It is the mother who stays with the children. And the Lord has confided us to our Mother, that is the Church, and our Mother, who is the Virgin Mary; She has us in charge.

So finally, we are all called to holiness. Make no mistake, the call to Christian plenitude, to perfect charity, addresses itself to all who believe in Christ, no matter what their rank or station. All are called to holiness. "Be perfect, as I, Your Heavenly Father, am perfect" (Matt. 5, 48).

Holiness demands sacrifice

So, what is the road we need to follow to attain holiness? It is the road of perfection. The road of perfection goes through the cross. We cannot become holy without sacrifices, just as we cannot build a house without suffering. It is at the price of sacrifices that we are able to obtain something. And we also in our Christian life, in order to attain holiness, should impose sacrifices upon ourselves. We cannot live just any way.

Live our Baptism

We should live according to the Commandments of God, according to the rules of God. "If someone wishes to follow Me, let him deny himself daily." To forget yourself is a sacrifice. "Let him carry his cross and follow Me." There is no holiness without self-renunciation, without a spiritual battle. The life of holiness demands a spiritual battle. Once I have received Baptism, I am called to go towards holiness. If I do not become a saint, then my Baptism has not given me all the possible fruits. In order to attain this ultimate vocation, I think we should make this effort to live our Baptism, our baptismal vocation.

The saints that I see proceed through the years provoke a holy jealousy in my daily life. Today we speak of many saints. But the saints were not super-humans; they are our brothers and sisters who lived with us but who lived a life with dignity and merit and who, today, are honored by the Lord. Why should not we risk to live this adventure? I have always said: my life of the priesthood is a life of adventure. It really is an adventure. I should live a great adventure so that it will produce fruits. When I say: the great adventurer is Christ; He really had the greatest adventure that swept away the whole world. We should follow Christ. We should let ourselves be led by Christ. He is the Way. May the good God permit us to contaminate others by the virus of our holiness! It is a good sickness.

It struck me when I entered for the first time in the community of St. Michael and saw "A house to become saints." I have profited from this during this time I have spent in the community. In my prayers, I asked for sanctity.

Community life based on the Bible

I will go now to the second point of the life in community in this family of St. Michael. Here I will take the Bible. If I do not support myself on the Bible, I am nothing. What gives me strength is the Bible. I will read from the Acts of the Apostles 2: 42, 47. We speak of the "first Christian community"; how the first Christians started to live in community. The family of St. Michael is a community. And I would like you to read as the community of St. Michael, as Pilgrims as were the first Christian community:

In the Acts of the Apostles, it states: "They continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of the bread and in the prayers. And fear came upon every soul; many wonders also and signs were done by means of the apostles in Jerusalem, and great fear came upon all. And all who believed were together and held all things in common, and would sell their possessions and goods and distribute them among all according as anyone had need. And continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread in their houses, they took their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and being in favor with all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their company such as were to be saved."

I was struck by the way of life of the Pilgrims. The first community of the first Christians showed itself "assiduous to the teaching of the apostles." I observed the community of the Pilgrims. They are assiduous like the first Christians to the teaching of the apostles. The teaching of the apostles is the teaching of the Church. The Pilgrims defend the Social Doctrine (of the Church). They (the Pilgrims) continue to walk in the footsteps of the first Christians and defend the teaching of the apostles.

"Faithful to fraternal communion"

I was struck to see that all together, they eat at the same time; that together, they come in prayer, after finishing one task, they go to find another service. This, as a priest, really impressed me, this "faithfulness to fraternal communion."

Today, it is hard to guide older persons because they are already adults, and each person has his own orientation. But while being in the community, each one tries to dilute his caprices, his differences, to go hand in hand and to live this community life. I think it is very, very important.

"Faithful to the sharing of bread and prayer." Each day it is at the chapel of the House of the Immaculate where we celebrate; it is here that we pray. If we are not in the chapel in the House of the Immaculate, we are in the chapel of the House of St. Michael.

"Assiduous in prayer" as they have a particular devotion also to St. Michael, you have to see them recite the prayer of St. Michael. It's beautiful, it's magnificent.

"Fear appeared in all spirits: many were the prodigies and signs accomplished by the apostles. Together all the believers gathered everything in common. They sold their properties and goods and shared the entire amount with their neighbor according to his needs."

While observing (the members of the Community of St. Michael) I did not see anyone who tries to take all the blankets for himself: that is mine, and the rest is for the community. I saw them; they put everything in the same pot. This signifies that all they possess, they put together. Even if they receive donations from other places, they try to give this to the community.

This is their life and their strength; it is the community life. Today, it is difficult even in our small families with a father, mother and children. Sometimes there are so many conflicts that the father wants to leave, to go somewhere else because at home it's like a war zone. See how these men who are consecrated to defend a cause, they accept being together and working together.

"Day after day with a single heart, they frequented assiduously the Temple (see the temple here, at the House of the Immaculate, and on the other side, the House of St. Michael) and break bread in their houses." Yes of course, during Holy Mass we break the bread, the Body of Christ who permits us to grow in our Faith. After going to the table of the Lord, they go to the other side (of the hall) to partake of the material bread that they also need.

"So taking their nourishment with cheerfulness and simplicity of heart," this is beautiful. Sometimes when you eat, you listen to certain conferences of Mr. Louis Even, to give an ambiance and animation to the meals.

Simplicity of heart

"Simplicity of heart," this is what I noticed. These are not complicated people; but they are people who are inhabited by simplicity and I find that this is a good virtue. When the Lord Jesus came into the world as Son of God, He could have taken all the goods of the earth because they belonged to Him. He also became simple. He became simplicity itself, to the point of washing the feet of the apostles. It is the first element concerning the community life of the Pilgrims, and I have admired that during these few days.

In the Gospel of Matthew, he tells us: "You are all brothers." It is an essential formula. Of course, in a community, things must go the way of the community. In the community we must do everything in simplicity, and this is marvelous.

I admired the readiness to render service. And why is this? It is because when you put yourselves in a community, each person brings something particular to the community. The Lord did not give each person all of the gifts possible. If each person had the same talents, there would no longer be love. We would no longer be compatible. In the communities (the two houses), I see that there are those who have talents, different gifts. When we need a certain one, we call the person and he comes to give service. Everything is complete and in harmony. So unity gives strength.

This community is a spiritual force with its prayer and apostolic action of the Pilgrims. This is what I wanted to say at the level of the community life.

The mission of the Pilgrims of St. Michael

Now I will speak about the point concerning the mission of the Pilgrims of St. Michael. I will again take the Bible in the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 4, verses 16 to 19, where it speaks about how Jesus went to Nazareth, "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and according to his custom, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read. And the volume of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. And after he opened the volume, he found the place where it was written,'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me; to bring good news to the poor he has sent me, to proclaim to the captives release, and sight to the blind; to set at liberty the oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompense.'"

I said before that a Pilgrim is someone who is sent. We cannot send ourselves. We have to be sent. And Jesus, when He came to earth, He read this prophecy from Isaiah: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me."

Pilgrims of St. Michael, do not deceive yourselves, when you have the strength to go on the road to knock on the doors, you do not say: "It is I." It is the spirit of the Lord who is in you. You have benefited from the Spirit on the day of your Baptism and Confirmation. It is the Holy Spirit that gives you the strength to be able to go door-to-door.

"The Spirit has anointed me." By our Baptism we are anointed with Holy Oil, so we are also consecrated.

"He sent me to announce to the captives their release." We, the Pilgrims, can give many testimonies. There are many people who are in prison in their own homes, enclosed without any opening. They have no one who could help them to get out, maybe help them to open a window. They are the captives whom we can deliver.

"Sight to the blind." There are many blind people in this world. The Lord will tell us: "You have eyes but you do not see." This means that even if of course we have eyes, we see only that what that world tells us. What is essential goes by because we do not see it, we are spiritually blind.

"Set at liberty the oppressed." Many are oppressed. Today, with Social Credit and the economy, we speak about the taxes that oppress us. So our mission then is to go and bring liberty to the oppressed, to the people who do not know Social Credit or the Social Doctrine, so that they may be liberated.

"To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." This is for you, the Pilgrims: "When we go on mission, we are inhabited by the Spirit of the Lord." Do not feel alone. Say to yourself: "I am in security because the Spirit of God accompanies me. So I go."

Here I think also of the mission of the twelve apostles, and I would like to read from the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 9, verses 1, 6:

"Then having summoned the twelve apostles, he gave them power and authority over all the devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them forth to preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said to them,'Take nothing for your journey, neither staff, nor wallet, nor bread, nor money; neither have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and do not leave the place. And whoever doesn't receive you, go forth from that town, and shake of even the dust from your feet for a witness against them.'And going forth, they went about from village to village, preaching the gospel and working cures everywhere."

There is an expression that still makes me happy, the Pilgrims saying: "We went to do the door-to-door." It is the same expression the Our Lord used: "Go from village to village." You go from "village to village," from door-to-door, "announcing the Good News."

You are missionaries of hope. Many people today do not have hope any more. Many people kill themselves, especially the young people here. They no longer have a place. They do not understand the sense of life, maybe because there is a lack of missionaries. And here you are called to go door-to-door to bring this hope so that people will have a taste for life. You are called to put a bit of salt in their life. In this modern world, we have material wealth, but unfortunately we are missing many important things. To give sense to this life, we are called to bring the Good News to humanity. It is like someone who puts some salt into some food that is not very salty. When food is not salted, it is not very appetizing. But when it is well salted, well seasoned, we eat it with much appetite. Go to season the life of our nation, our society.

The return of the apostles from their mission

There is another thing that we are also living: the return of the Apostles, in the Gospel of St. Luke, Ch. 9 verse 10: "And the apostles on their return reported to him all that they had done."

It is the life of the Pilgrims. No Pilgrim can go to do the apostolate and come back just to sit down. When the Pilgrims return, they go to do their report. This means that the mission that they have just realized, it is not their mission. They were sent. When they return they should make a report so that their mission can be evaluated, and so that the next mission can be improved. This has not started today (this manner of living) but dates from the time of Jesus with His apostles. And this is very pleasant to me.

When the Pilgrims come to give their report to those responsible of the Community, these people should then give their report to the others. They make their report to Louis Even and Mrs. Gilberte Cote-Mercier, who have founded this Work. "Here is the Work that you have left. Here is how it progresses. You have left it at a certain level, and we have brought it to this level." It is as if we have attained and confided these talents. And we should not bury these talents; we should fructify them. We should really become missionaries, go everywhere, and spread this Work that Mr. Louis Even has started. And he, for his part, will make a report to Jesus, and Jesus to His all-powerful Father. And this is how I have understood the life of the Pilgrims. They make a report in order to improve their Work.

The Michael Journal

I will speak now about the last point: the Michael Journal. I announced that, in the beginning, you stole the Michael Journal from us. And it's true. We were reading a passage from the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me." At the end, (of this citation), there is a phrase: "Today is accomplished in your ears this passage of scripture."

It is here that I say: "Michael Journal is a message of hope; it will be realized tomorrow." Here (in Rougemont) your three meals are assured, it is truly a paradise compared to Africa. It is in Africa that we must waken the consciences so that the people understand what Social Credit and the Social Doctrine of the Church are. The Africans are still in obscurity.

I think that Louis Even is smiling now, because I learned that in his projects, he wanted to spread the Michael Journal even in Africa. So dearly beloved in Our Lord, this is the little experience I wanted to share with you in this moment.

By Fr. Jean-Romain Nioka

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