When you have been living far from your country for a long time like me, you need landmarks and shelters more than ever. That is what means Paray-Le-Monial to me and this summer was no exception.

Paray is a small town lost in the middle of Burgundy in France. But a place like no other where Jesus Christ appeared three times during the 17th century, to St Margaret-Mary, a young nun from the convent of the Visitation, revealing his message to the world: “This is the heart which has so loved mankind”. And my spiritual home.

A place where you can meet Catholics from all over the world and experience life and time differently – fully turned toward the Christ and His Real Presence. A place where you can see a disabled women standing up from her wheelchair during the morning praise – I witnessed this miracle once and would never forget it. A place where it is easier to discern God’s will far from the noise of the world, from your to-do list and your digital chains. A place where you can be yourself, or more exactly where you can forget about yourself and start caring about Him and about your sisters and brothers.

The irony I found is that this summer I didn’t even plan to come to Paray but it came to me. And once again it changed my life. I was not prepared to it but it truly and simply did. Arriving unexpectedly – with my husband and four of our five kids without a room or any registration – we felt welcomed, we felt home. And there I found what I was unconsciously looking for: immediate peace. The change in my heart really happened instantly as soon as we entered the big tent and heard a song called “Mary Sweet light”.

Mary sweet light,
Door of the Sky and Spirit Temple,
Guide us to Jesus and to our Father,
Mother of the poor and the little ones.

Remembering me about the importance of letting things go and stepping out of selfhood to open wide my hectic life to our Mother Mary.

If you get a chance to come to Paray-Le-Monial – as a member of the Emmanuel Community or simply as a Catholic – take it. I don’t know what the Holy Spirit will give you there or where it will lead you. But one thing I know for sure is that you won’t regret it.

Ingrid (MA)


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