On the cliff tops, there we are, on the ancient fort of Dún Aonghasa, one of the most ancient ruins of Ireland. 21 young men from the French Foreign Missions of Paris looking at the sun set in the horizon. 21 hearts burning with the same fire that burnt the monks of Aran. 21 seminarians called to seek God and proclaim His Love to the ends of the world.
Riding our bikes along the lacework of ancient stone walls enfolding the island, we cycled in the footsteps of the first men who populated this island, finding refuge during bad weather in the early clocháns (dry-stone beehive huts from the early-Christian period). It is here that Saint Enda of Aran founded the first true Irish monastery near Cill Éinne, where we started our journey with a short exhortation from our chaplain, Rev. Fr. Alain Bourdery. We came here almost on pilgrimage to seek God’s blessing, as Saint Brendan, before his missionary voyage.
In fact, there is more in common between the monks of the “Sun of the West” and the missionaries who are called to go to the Land of the Rising Sun. The monks adapted themselves to the raw climatic conditions, developing a survival system of total self-sufficiency. So did the missionaries when they left their European comfort on a hazardous journey to a new continent leaving all they had behind. The monks used their imagination to live a human life on a desert island, using seaweed to provide grazing grass for the cattle and sheep which in turn provided woll and yarn to make hand-knitted sweaters and jackets. Missionaries need the same imagination to share the fullness of the life in Christ with those who thirst for his water in different cultures and climates. Finally, the monks treasured another wonder still very present on the island: Gaeltacht. Missionaries as well, as they struggle to learn the language of the peoples God send them to.
Going to Aran was going back to our roots. Many Irish saints had some connection with Aran. Now that we also have one, what we need is to be saints as well. And for that, we will need your prayer. Bail ó Dhia is Mhuire duit!
Aspirant aux Missions Etrangères (mepasie.org)
The Missions Etrangères de Paris is a French Missionary Society founded 350 years ago for the evangelization of Asia: it’s about sharing God’s Love with all people.
Find out more on our website: mepasie.org