Second Thought for the Day – 31 December – The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas and the Memorial of Blessed Alain de Solminihac (1593-1659) Bishop of Cahors, France
2018 was the 400th Anniversary the Priestly Ordination of Blessed Alain de Solminihac. His Diocese of Cahors, France launched a Year of Vocations to conincide with this event of their former Bishop. One of their aims, besides promoting vocations, was to make known the life and holiness of Blessed Alain. Bishop Laurent Camiade, the current Bishop of Cahors, wrote:
“It is wonderful to know that you are called to holiness and it is inspiring to answer the call, to give your whole life, for consecration in the Church. All Christians are concerned with the “universal vocation to holiness.” Some are specifically called to give their whole life – religious consecration, or in an institute, hermit or order of the virgins, or commitment to celibacy with a view to being ordained a priest.
Providence wanted 2018 to be the 400th anniversary of the Priestly Ordination of Blessed Alain de Solminihac. He was Ordained Deacon on 25 March 1617 and Priest on 22 September 1618. In 1636, he was called again to become Bishop of Cahors. This is why, after having spoken to different councils, I hope that we will take advantage of this Anniversary to return to listening to the teachings of Blessed Alain. He teaches us with his vigorous and profound words … and by his exemplary life, to strive to be courageous, ardent and sober.
Today, as in Alain de Solminihac’s time, devoting his whole life to God involves difficulties. Celibacy according to a sober lifestyle has never been obvious. In the time of Blessed Alain, the choice of becoming a priest, religious or nun, made it possible to ensure material security, thanks to a system of benefits attached to abbeys or dioceses. As a result, in the 17th century, not all consecrated persons had internalised, the spiritual conditions, for living in accordance with their state and the clergy did not always give a good testimony. It is in this context, that Blessed Alain would become a “reformer”, that is to say, a demanding promoter of coherence between vocation and lifestyle.
Alain de Solminihac put spirituality and fidelity to the duties linked to the received mission first. “You must follow the good pleasure of God as soon as you know it , he wrote, and accomplish it by immediately turning your eyes to God, remaining in a simple expectation to receive another sign or command, without wasting time delight in the satisfaction of having accomplished this adorable Will of God.”
The requirements of Blessed Alain sometimes provoked reactions of opposition but they also attracted many young people, happy to give themselves, in a way that made sense and above all, pushed by the Holy Spirit who wanted this for the Church. His motto was Faith and Valour! and he lived up to it!
It is clearly a current need to relaunch the call to specific vocations (priests, religious, nuns, consecrated). The desire to give all of one’s life to follow Christ, exists in many young people (recent statistics prove it) but this is seldom realised, as we can see.
The priests and seminarians of our Diocese are deeply attached to Our Lady of Rocamadour, who played an often decisive role in their engagement. Blessed Alain fought with all the vigour of his temper, to keep this sanctuary in the Diocese of Cahors. We are therefore grateful to him for these graces which, by the will of God, reflect from the pierced heart of Christ, to our local Church. Blessed Alain considered Rocamadour to be the most famous Marian place in the kingdom . He was very attached to Mary who, he explains, “had more humility than all the other saints, because, holier than the others, she had a more perfect knowledge of the excellence of God and by consequence of her own nothingness. “
May Blessed Alain de Solminihac help us to share his missionary ardour and his discreet humility.”