Wednesday, 8 June 2016

 JULIEN, AUTHOR OF THE  BIBLE




For our modern sensitivity, our good Julien Vézina* is not quite the type of missionary to imitate. Anyway, he is inimitable.

In the mountains of South Honduras where the climate is very hot and where life is very rough, he is the freest man of the world. He does not sleep, eats very little and never stops. He is a man whose passion is to be with the ordinary people, to make them happy, to serve them. He plays cat-and-mouse with the children, he extracts teeth, and if no midwife is available for delivery, he is the one who plays the role of «mid-husband». No unemployment. 

When we are Julien Vézina, we enrol in the Eucharistic Crusade the babies still breast feeding and communion is given to them just like with adults. We direct the brass bands at all the patriotic celebrations and we play any musical instrument.  We use the typewriter at the speed of lightning and we create documents. For those thousands of people who have no papers and need a baptism certificate so as to have the right to exist, but don’t have one because the archives were burnt or stolen, Julien, with closed eyes, produces the so desired document without fuss, «authenticates» it by stamping it with the seal of the parish and turns it over to the new citizen, saying: «Next! » It’s free.

His catechesis is at the forefront of technology. The exterior walls of all the chapels – already whitewashed – are used as screens for the projection of films that are unique in the whole world. The material is being carried in the mountains by a caravan of seven or eight mules, including Anselma, his pet mule. Julien himself edits his films with sequences «borrowed» (to use a euphemism) from other movies of his impressive collection. He pastes them to one another according to a surrealist framework of which he only has the secret. Short scenes about Jesus and Mary are shown here and there between the adventures of Mickey Mouse and are followed by other topics as essential to salvation as the most beautiful goals of the CH of Montréal in the series of the Stanley Cup, or excerpts of the family rosary with Cardinal Léger, without omitting the Max Brothers and the apparitions of Fatima… Each time, a huge success! 

One day, in Cuba (he was missionary in the Philippines and in Cuba before ending up in Honduras), Julien is going his way wearing a white cassock when two braggarts ask him what kind of woman is he to go out with a dress on. Without a word Julien grabs them together by the neck, lifts them at full arms and knocks their heads against one another like in the best movies of the already mentioned Max brothers.

The strength of our Tarzan is legendary. The gloomiest military men and the most roguish prisoners bow in front of him out of respect. When he speaks, people listen to him, and even though the stories he invents are unbelievable, everybody believes in all he says. For example, to urge the parents to bring up their children in a good way, he does not hesitate to tell that when he was in Cuba, Fidel Castro was his altar boy. He tells them: «How many times have I warned the mother to send her son to catechism, and since she did not listen to me, well, he became the devil who is making the world tremble!».

Not only does Julien impress by his physical strength and his stories, but also by his kindness and his tenderness. Under the shell of a boxer, Julien has a child’s heart. His preferred weapon to open hearts is the candies. At all times, he has a bag of them handy, and he distributes them on his way. To the young girl who stick to him like glue, to the grandmother who looks at him as if he was God, to the policeman armed to the teeth and who struts like a peacock, and to the toughest one who hates the whole world, it takes only a candy to become great friends. Jesus said: « Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth»; this beatitude, Julien lives it out by dint of candies.  

At the time, it was forbidden to priests to celebrate more than one mass a day, except in very rare cases. Julien himself would nonetheless celebrate up to five masses a day, each one at a different place, by using the host and wine consecrated in a previous mass.  Everything goes on in an impeccable way and with an atmosphere of perfect piety, especially as, from the sign of the cross at the beginning up to the final blessing, the mass would last hardly ten minutes, hymns and homily included. No one complains.   

If you are a confrere of Julien and live under the same roof, do not be surprized when things from your bedsheets, your towels, your shorts, your shirts, your pants, your altar linen, your cassock and your surplice disappear like magic. It is the “invisible hand” of Julien that is taking away from you everything that can be useful to the poor.

From this indescribable companion, I learn that we can cheerfully open the way to salvation with Jesus’ gospel in one hand and dynamite sticks in the other hand, throwing up in the air everything that in the troubled geography of the country was an obstacle to the passage of the holy jeep of the missionary. 

I even learned from the mouth of some pious country women that it was not the pope who wrote the Bible – as claimed by ignorant people – but by Padre Julián… 

In the jail of Choluteca, the Padre Julián is not only the chaplain but also the greatest of the heroes. Today, the jail and its chaplain are awaiting hastily the official visit of the First Lady of the country.  In the hope that she will demonstrate her generosity toward that institution which wallows in misery, Julián personally organizes the reception. He carefully teaches his friends – a great number of them are known murderers – how to welcome the august visitor. From the moment that the prisoners see Doña Alejandrina enter solemnly arm in arm with Julián, a clamour reaches the heavens. But instead of «Long Live the First Lady», what bursts out from all over is «Long Live Padre Julián!” The face of the good Julián turns to a red beet. As a good catholic, Doña Alejandrina amuses herself. It seems that on that day a bundle of lempiras came out of her purse. Did this help in improving the life conditions of those unhappy prisoners? We have to ask the administration… One thing is sure: if that money had been put directly into the hands of our good Robin Hood Julián, there would not have been any question asked.    

Julien was not a “Curé d’Ars”, nor a new Moses, nor a Che Guevara, nor a Mother Teresa, neither the most up to date version of a 21st century missionary. He was only the « Padre Julián », the unique Padre Julián. And then, one day, he passed away. Even though he and I were as similar as day and night, I had much affection for him. I was really saddened by his departure. I had the feeling that a great marvel had just left us. If the delinquents and all the underprivileged whom he loved and served during his life had accompanied us during his burial, I am sure that we would have heard them crying as far as the end of the world.  

                                                                               Eloy Roy


Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages


JULIEN VÉZINA, p.m.é 1913-1983
Missionary in The Philippines : 1941-1945  In Cuba : 1945-1956, in Honduras : 1956-196. Died in LavaL, Québec, Canada: Feb 14, 1983

             

Monday, 9 May 2016

VOTING FOR LOSERS


If I were an American, in the next presidential election I would vote for Bernie Sanders. That’s because Bernie is the freest, the most humane, the more just and the truest among all the candidates in line.
But Bernie will lose, for sure. Why? Probably because the majority of Americans - like most of the inhabitants of our planet - want nothing but money, even dirty money that trickles down with blood.  What is «more free, more humane, more just and more true» comes second for them. Moreover, they don’t give a damn!  
«The majority», I said, not everybody, since a minority will vote for Bernie.  
2000 years ago, I would have voted for Jesus, you see? ...
And so, why do I vote for losers?
The youth knows very well why. The youth feels that Old Sanders’ ideas are vital for democracy, for social justice and for the peace in the world. The youth is aware that the future of the humankind is going exactly in this direction. So the youth votes for Sanders.
Jesus lost for a time. He got thrashed incredibly (no surprise!). What he sowed, still, has sprouted, grown, ripened somewhere.
Those who lose in searching for justice and brotherhood will be sooner or later the real winners, even though before arriving there they have to be crushed a thousand times.
Bernie will lose, but because of the waves that he is raising, Hillary is redirecting her boat. Now she is siding with the ordinary people more than with Wall Street and the Washington clique. This is a very big step forward. When she wins the election (if ever she wins), the victory will be hers, of course, but, who will be able to say that Bernie has really lost?

                                                                                    Eloy Roy

Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages


                     A new consciousness is arising.  

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

THE WORN AWAY GREAT BOAT

              
                                                          Green Yatra         

The Great Boat, it’s the Earth. It is the Common Good, the material and cultural basic goods. In other words, they are the goods which allow men and women of the planet to have everywhere the same chances. Those goods are: the Earth, the air, the water, the dignity, the respect, justice, freedom, education, health, housing, work, security, peace and beauty.  

But the Great Boat is being worn away from all sides. By whom? By those who have axes, saws, hammers, nail. They are well known. They are in governments and in all the sectors of society. I may be one of them. With the planks that we are chopping out of the Great Boat, we are throwing together yachts or launches. And then we bugger off!  

Sin is obsolete, for sure, but let us have a good look at the picture above. If that obsolete thing exists, that’s its face. 
                                                                                      Eloy

Translated from the French by J. Bourdages


Thursday, 7 April 2016

JOSEPH

                                                                                          Photo: Genée Jerome
Seeing beyond all appearances
Joseph, holding a hammer, is the man who helps Jesus to discover the treasures that are hidden within each tree. He teaches him to see here and there, beyond all appearances, beams for the framework of a house,  a table, a door, a seat, a loom, a cradle, a coffin; kitchen utensils, bowls for eating, buckets for the well, tools for working the soil, crutches for the infirm, clogs for the poor, a barrel for the wine…
Jesus learns from Joseph that the tree is aware that it will be sacrificed so that its brothers and sisters may enjoy a more humane life; that brings it a great joy. And even though it suffers by that, the tree is proud to know that from its body is drawn the cross on which very often are nailed throughout the world the men and the women in love with justice and freedom.    
Joseph learns from Jesus how to chop a tree with respect and recognition like we bite into a piece of fruit…He shows him how to carve, to sculpt with love, to plane its pieces, to smooth them down, to butt them together and joint them so that the tree keeps on living under other forms and beyond itself, by humbly serving its brothers and sisters who are, like it, made of sun and soil. 
It is thanks to Joseph that Jesus learns to have some backbone and some vision. It is due to Joseph that he learns to see in every human being a masterpiece of Creation, a child of light, a son and a daughter of God. It is from Joseph that, beneath an exterior of weakness or misery, he learns that the human being is inhabited by the splendors of the «Kingdom of God», and that through our death, the Resurrection is already making its way.
Of course, Mary sees how Joseph, through his craft as a carpenter, is the great master who puts into Jesus’ hands the basic materials of what will become the Good News for the whole of Creation. She is filled with wonder while signing “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!”
                                          Eloy Roy


Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages

Thursday, 24 March 2016

THE CRUCIFIED-RISEN ONE

Pic from Internet

I, humanity, the whole world, we are fatally wounded. We are broken, tormented by death. But we are growing constantly towards something greater.
The Crucified One, he is the mirror of our reality made of violence, sin and death. He is an obscure image that still does not succeed in extinguishing the obstinate fire which is burning under our ruins.      
The Crucified One is Risen!  He tells me about the long march of nothingness towards being, the long road of the night towards the light. He tells me about the long journey of death towards life, of nonsense towards meaning.  He shows me the not very glorious stage that we have attained, but already he lets me catch a glimpse of what we are becoming. He tells me that all that chaos will lead to Beauty.
That End attracts me. It attracts everything. It attracts the whole of the universe. I feel that it is inscribed in the DNA of the world.
The Crucified-Risen One tells me about the great childbirth of the Universe. Above all, he tells me that at the source of that giant adventure, there is a great Heart that is beating.
                                                                    Eloy Roy

Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages

Friday, 27 November 2015

THE SAINTS AND THE WICKED





The reflection that inspires me about the conflict between the djihadists and the West will surely bring upon me a shower of rotten eggs. Some will sentence me to be burnt at the stake or to be locked up in a psychiatric hospital. Most will call me a lunatic and fool; before all else, I would be treated as a traitor to the Christian and occidental civilization. Anyway, I am sticking to my guns!

Cain and Abel by Bild Kuns
 

Even though light years separate us, I am addressing myself to the Islamic State:   

« You, men and women of the DAESH, you are relatives of mine. Much before being terrorists or fools of Allah, Muslims belonging to one or other race or school; before being mercenaries, rapists, head choppers, sick people or enemies, you are human beings just like me.  

Even if you consider me as an avatar of the great Satan, a pervert, an oppressor of humanity, a plunderer of the planet; even if I am for you an idolater, a peddler of weapons, of drugs, of false religion, of false liberty and of a multitude of «values» lethal for the human race, I can assure you that, with or without a beard, I am very much like you.    


Men and women of the DAESH, all your follies, we have them within us, and all our follies, you have them within you. They are only served with different dressings, with other tonalities, other colors, other faces, other intensities. We are human beings who are capable of great things, but we are also monsters. And you are just the same.  You and us we are twin brothers.  

In all that you are accusing us, there is not much that is false, and in all that we accuse of, all is probably true. Even though our truths are like night and day, on both sides we are sure of being in the truth. One more proof that we share the same genes. 

You want to control the world? Well, that is just what we want also. You want to reduce us to nothingness? That is exactly what we intend to do with you.  This is another proof that you and us we are alike. More alike, we die!

We might as well admit it. Your kalachnikovs and kamikazes will never rid you of us and our bombs will never see the end of you. Since things are so, better throw our weapons in the trash can. Let’s let the dust settle first and look if we can speak to one another. It would simply be to listen to one another and to look how we could be more accurate with one another. For want of loving one another, we could at least begin to respect one another. Are we not, after all, more or less Siamese twins? »  

Come on, right thinking people, logicians of uprightness, you, the prudent, laugh at me if it pleases you, spit at me, fire nails and thorns at me, but never will I assert that we are the good ones and they, the villains. Neither the reverse.  
                                           
                                                                                                       Eloy Roy

Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages.
                             

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Patuca




 From the barren lands of South Honduras towards the paradise of the Patuca.


 
 With 
Jean-Louis Nadeau 
and 
Normand Landreville



About a hundred of peasants of Honduras and two Quebec missionaries relive as a miniature the great feat of Exodus  with which the Bible initiates the salvation history.                 

                                                                                 
By : Eloy Roy

Turning their backs to the misery of their mountains of rocks, a group of peasants of South Honduras, 90 men and 15 women are preparing themselves to leave for a better life. Jean-Louis and Normand, young and daring missionaries in the face of God, leave with them. They are aware that four hundred kilometers in the north, somewhere in the jungle, a land where « flow milk and honey » is waiting for them. Scouts have preceded them to locate a place that, in their imaginary, already has the aura of a new « promised land ».               


A departure prepared for a long time

These departing people are poor people with a valiant heart, resourceful persons, and ready to do anything. They will leave everything so as to free themselves from a life of slavery stuck to a broken, worn out land covered with stones. In the forests of the north, they will be the pioneers of a « paradise » where, in successive waves and in less than ten years, 20 000 families will join up with them. Fleets of trucks carrying mules, cows, horses, asses and goats will follow close behind; these brother animals will play a vital role in that undertaking of salvation.             

And it is really a question of salvation for those peasants who cannot stand anymore a life without a future. They all come from small communities that did not emerge like mushrooms overnight. They are the long ripened fruit of a young missionary Church of South Honduras where the priests of the Foreign Missions Society of Quebec, with the help of the Filles de Jésus, the Sœurs du St-Rosaire, the Hermanas de la Inmaculada and other collaborators from Honduras or abroad, worked tirelessly in having them grow by making sure not to separate the spiritual from the social.       

They took form into hundreds of small Christian communities through very humble organizations like the Apostolate of prayer, or other more revolutionary, like the movement for the re-appropriation of the lands taken over by the corruption and the violence of big landowners. The popular educational system of the On the Air Schools taught to read and write to those peasants and opened their minds to the world. A great number of other services for awareness, for economical solidarity, for the human and civic promotion have prepared them to commit themselves for a radical change. Religiosity, so deeply rooted in the culture of those small communities, were channeled and bloomed into the Celebration of the Word, a very large service which offered a basic biblical formation to the animators of those communities, and which developed in them an astonishing spiritual and social dynamism.           

Animated by the Word of God

How many times the simple and opened hearts of those small communities have heard resound within themselves this Word which marks the departure of any journey with the God of the Bible: «Leave your country, leave your land, leave everything, get under way, and follow me. I will be with you. You have no map? My Word will be your way. No food for your journey? My Word will be your bread.»                  

That Word of God which repeats itself all along the stormy story of the small people of the Bible awakens the spirit of those good people and becomes their guide. It puts before their eyes Abraham, Joseph, Moses, those men of faith without reserve who left behind everything and who had to face up to numerous dangers so as to give a name and a land to their small people that had wandered in the deserts. It shows to them the two brothers, Moses and Aaron, overcoming superhuman obstacles so as to pull out their people from an exile of four centuries, to deliver it from an awful slavery and to save it from a sure extermination. Equally, the Prophets of the Bible, those giants of freedom, of justice and of mercy, become in the eyes of those small communities unequaled models of courage and of faith in a God who is not made of wood, of marble, of bronze or of plaster, but who is Life and is the Possible of every impossible.                                                   

The heart of those humble is inhabited before all else by a Word of God which gives them back Jesus of Nazareth, the very one who, before being adorned with all the glories of heaven, walks with the poor, cures, loves, sustains, forgives, rises up, make himself closer to those who are nothing, and who takes upon himself the weight of human misery even up to the horror of the cross…That Jesus resembles without mistaking to those peasants. He speaks to them today like yesterday. He is one of them.  He is not dead.       

The Word of God also engraved in-depth in the unconsciousness of those small communities the image of the first Christians who shared all that they owned, so much so that among them, there were neither poor nor rich people: all were equals! That was the great sign of salvation, the unambiguous proof that Jesus was the victor over death and that he lived among them. That great miracle of justice and of fraternity of the first Christian community was therefore the model to be imitated, the way to follow, the sacrament to be embodied.       

At last, the departure!

Thus, shaped by the Word of God for years and driven by a faith that could displace mountains, our small group of peasants of South Honduras begins its walk with bags and baggage: tents, hammocks, farm and workshop tools, kitchenware, candles, a small bundle of clothing, one or two guitars, a dozen of chicken, four or five dogs and as many cats, three guns, and, above all, the precious sacks of corn grains, of beans and of rice intended to bestowed in the new land. At this point, 3220 years of biblical history creep into the skin of our brave people. Normand Landreville and Jean-Louis Nadeau who are for a great part the soul of that expedition give rise to such admiration, self confidence and hope that soon their adventure companions naively  and proudly  call them Moses and Aaron. At the time, Normand was a priest of the Foreign Missions of Québec, and Jean-Louis is still one.  

The hour to relive the «crossing of the Red Sea» has finally come. Of course this will take place in the Honduran way and on a very modest scale: not in Hebrew, but in Spanish; not by wearing turbans, but by sporting nice straw hats «made in Honduras»; not by wearing sandals, but «caites» and high rubber boots; not by brandishing the sword, but by at the belt a well sharpened machete next to a flask of water; not by feeding on unleavened bread, but by stuffing oneself with tortillas prepared by the women on the way. Not forty years wandering in the desert, but five or six days walking in the jungle and transplanting oneself into a land pregnant with a future. We are not in the year 1250 before Jesus Christ, but 3200 years later, March 23 of the year of 1973 of our era.

All those nice people crowd in three or four trailer trucks and leave Choluteca towards the dreamt country. The road is negotiable up to the little town of Juticalpa, but beyond that point, its transforms itself into less and less reassuring trails. It is in holding one’s breath that the caravan still succeeds in reaching the Guayambre River. The vehicles with double traction cannot go further.  Civilisation ends there. Everybody gets off, luggage is carried in any way possible, and the watercourse is crossed by canoe or on the back of the horses borrowed from a neighboring encampment.       

Then begins the second part of the journey. It will be the most hazardous and the most difficult.  From now on, it’s on foot. It is out of breath that the first very steep mountain is climbed.  Rain, landslides and mudslides render the trekking extremely tiresome. In some places, we can only descend by slipping along steep and rocky slopes; that is why that mountain will be given the cute name of «Scratch Buttocks Mountain». After that mountain, another one follows and a string of others more accessible, the first one having been the riskiest. Here and there, vast sections have already been cleared of trees, but in some places the forest is still intact and the vegetation is lush. Soon heaps of huge trunks obstruct the way; we are on a trail of lumberjacks who have been there to cut wood. And what type of wood: there are even mahogany trees of priceless value!    

In the forest, large plots already have their owners who began exploiting that precious wood. But, further within, the forest does not yet belong to anyone. That is where the Government will allocate thousands of hectares of good soil to our group of peasants and to all the others who will come afterwards. Axes, machetes, metal bars, chainsaws begin to work and remove the obstacles one by one until the passage is sufficiently cleared so that the whole troop can pass.     

The new land
 At each stage, at nightfall, the hammocks are unfolded and fixed on the trees; dead tired, the bodies take their rest while letting themselves be cradled under the wings of the palm trees and the gaze of the stars.    And then, the next day, they all set off again. Once again, two or three days of exhausting trekking, and suddenly we come out on a vast plain surrounded by giant trees never seen before. Life bursts in all directions. All the hearts are beating. The «Promised land», here she is! She is beautiful and she extends her arms. It is in this maternal Land that our brave folks will take root until the end of their life and for all generations to come.

Establishment
Without delay, we set to work.  An area is given to everyone, tasks are distributed and the duties are organized to fetch water, washing, cooking, clearing the forest and cutting wood in order to begin the first constructions.   And then, we work the soil, we hastily lay out a huge vegetable plot, and beans, rice, carrots, onions, cabbages are sowed…A field is cleared between the trees and corn is sowed. We proceed to produce the first beams, the first planks, the first walls, the first roof, benches, tables, beds; small areas are laid out to take a shower using a bucket and a can, and a place for the toilets, another for the chicken; everything is hand-made, using very few tools and according to the skills and the fervor of everyone. Everybody puts one’s shoulder to the wheel and surpasses oneself with inventiveness and good will. Many of them whistle happily and hum softly while working.      
Everyone is important
At first, the big group clusters together around the community House, but gradually smaller groups get organized and begin to disperse in the vicinity; later on, they will become the nuclei of new communities.
In that adventure, everyone is important. With the common task which they share and with the impossibility of doing anything of value apart from a well coordinated work in which everyone has an irreplaceable role to play.     All the groups become more than ever aware of the incredible power of the community. Connected to one another and pressing on in the same direction, they sense that they are equals and one. And so, in their eyes, nothing appears to be impossible. Does God exist? If one can touch Him, that is where He is.
 The two priests
Jean-Louis and Normand are a tangible proof of all that. To see those two men walking, sweating, working, struggling as if they were peasants like them, fills the small community with admiration. They are priests, but they are not there only for blessings and to express edifying words. They do not remain outsiders. They do not enjoy any special treatment. They wear rubber boots like everyone else, they carry the straw hat on their heads, their skin is burnt by the sun like the others; they handle the machete, the saw, the hammer, the chain saw like professionals, they ride their horse like the others, make plans with them, they draw maps with them, build bridges with them, clear the forest like them, eat and sleep like them, dirty their hands like them, pray and hope like them.
To see priests not wearing an immaculate cassock or chasuble, with white hands, being served by altar boys, and to discover them as human beings like them, giving off the same smell like theirs, is a revelation. They already knew them very well. There, in the South, they had seen them many times wearing jeans and traveling by jeep, struggling at their side, but they thought that is was only  once in a while, because, always very busy, they would come and go. They had not yet seen them really living with them.  Now, they can see them, not at mass, not in meeting about this or that, but in the flesh, with them and like them, staying with them, sharing the same fight, the same dream, and the same fate. 
What fills them above all with wonder, it is that they do not work for a salary (they never received any in their whole life). They do not work for money; they do not charge anything to anyone; on the contrary, they are the ones who give money that generous people of their country send them. They give everything they have. They work freely and with such enthusiasm that it is as if they are giving to themselves a gift each time they help someone.     With those two priests, the peasants feel that they are equals. They feel important, they feel the same. If it is true that those priests could represent God among them, well, it becomes clear in their eyes that God was never a stranger and that, since always, He is in some way a peasant like them. 
 No  clericalism
The common house is built and, around her, grows very slowly the small houses intended for the families of the pioneers who will soon come and joint hem. The organisation takes shape. Different services are established and leaders become in charge of them. The priests do not have to intervene more than the others in that process. Thus, what concerns the community is the business of the whole community. And so, decisions are always taken by common consent. This is sacred. Therefore, no little chiefs above the others to give orders, otherwise, it would spell the death of the community. Of all evidence, the priests have a particular role to play, but they do not exercise any monopoly:  they fulfill their specific function in harmony with the community, without ever keeping themselves apart or above her. They reject with all their soul that old clericalism which maintains the «faithful» in a state of dependence, as if they were bound to remain eternal «minors» intrinsically incapable of thinking or acting by themselves and in a legitimate way in the eyes of God and of the world… 
 Never short of anything!
Supplies are purchased in the city of Juticalpa or in that of Danlí. Transportation is made by horse and mules. With the time, a road is built and a double-traction vehicle is purchased…The rainy season is the nightmare of the vehicle, but there are always enough hands to free it from the potholes, to push it, to pull it, so much so that compared with extreme sports the brave Land Rover could arise envy.
The surplus crop is brought in markets of the two cities in return for basic goods that the community cannot produce by itself. Never short of anything! The crops surpass all expectations. The corn is giant size. Vegetables and fruits are all bigger, nicer, tastier and much more abundant that what was picked in the south.     
Added to that are fishing and hunting, activities that are never practiced for pleasure but only to feed themselves. Rivers abound in fish desiring to share in the adventure. With the help of hooks, atarrayas, chinchorros or harpoons, the catch is amazing, among others the cuyamel of the Patucon that is a pure joy for even those most demanding mouths. In turn, the forest  produces for the table of the community exquisite meat like that of the danton, an animal of bizarre appearance which yet offered a delicious flesh; there are also wild pig, mountain turkey, the armadillo, the deer…In short, no one dies from hunger! 
Beauty, mosquitoes and bad people
Everybody is aware of taking care of the flora and the fauna, that is why wood is cut and soil cultivated rationally. The vast variety of flowers of great beauty, the parrots dressed in the brightest colors, the red guacamaya, the golden humming bird and thousands of other feathered creatures are the enchantment of that paradise of greenness, of clear water and pure air.  Chachas, monkeys, the guatusa, the tepezcuinte, the jagüilla, the tigrillo and many other hairy animals, horned ones, clawed ones and fanged ones are the inhabitants of those woods and are the most respectable neighbors to our pioneers. The only exception are the zancudos, the absolutely detestable mosquitoes, tremendously prolific and bloodthirsty, or the barba amarilla, the yellow beard, an extremely dangerous small snake, that still, despite its bad reputation, earns a ten for his conduct.     

Among the unpleasant entities, pests or less friendly ones, we have to sort three landowners coming from Juticalpa who have clearly delineated the boundaries of their vast territories with the threat of punishment for whoever would dare place only one toe in those lands. Other big landowners and politicians are also much less reassuring. At night, they send their mercenaries to fire shots in the direction of the installations of the community to terrorize their residents and force them to go away, but a few servicemen who stand guard have those attempts of intimidation abort.        
In the jungle, you must always keep an eye opened, at night as well as during daytime, because, in addition to those obscure characters who hide themselves in the shadows so as to stop our brave people to establish themselves in those areas, bandits also who running away from justice are roaming around, as well as thieves, murderers, plunderers of precious wood, all of them part of a «fauna» that does not want to be discovered.          


The Eucharistic Celebrations
In this ascension towards life, we do not take a break only for eating and sleeping, but we take time to visit one another from one cottage to the other, and we let ourselves be awed by the spectacles offered by the forest, like the one that is offered at any moment by the monkeys with white faces («los caras blancas »), inimitable acrobats, playing like little fools at the top of the trees. We also take time prayer and to give thanks. Around the large common table, taken care by Jean-Louis and Normand, the great body of the community celebrates the Eucharist. And then rises up the scent of good soil, of forest, of sweat, of muscle; a scent of a life being born, all condensed in one flesh, in one heart, in one adoration. Not too much of God all above, not too much Jesus sitting on a throne, not too many priests above the others, not too many people at the bottom, but everybody eating with joy the same bread and drinking at the same cup while singing one and immense Thank you to God, to Life, to the Universe, and to the whole World.    

A New Palestine
If we look on the map of Honduras for the department of Olancho, we discover that  there exists somewhere a place called «Palestine». It is the name given by our pioneers to that new land that they have welcomed as a pure gift from God. For them, the word «Palestine» was magical; in their minds, it recalled the Promised Land and Paradise…And so, they thought that that new land received as a gift coming from the goodness of God could not carry a more beautiful name. We cannot blame them.  From the middle of their jungle, it was not easy for them to believe that the modern Palestine, that was the homeland of Jesus, would have become with time a calvary where we go on non-stop crucifying all the hopes of a people.   

Today
Fourty years after that adventure, in the region of the New Palestine, the population has exploded. The small houses made up of branches have given way to more sturdy buildings. Institutions have grown: already a few secondary schools of high level prepare for the university. There are also a clinic, a big cooperative, a radio station, an Internet service, a running water and a sewage systems, a suitable road, bridges, three hydro-electric dams (the Chinese are already there!) and a cute church… Yet, since there is no rose without a thorn, with progress came also bars, prostitution, and without doubt some drugs and some corruption as well as a few metastases of the cancer of the former politics which divides the people into rival bands for the greater pleasure of those of old who «have control».  Just the same, a great tree has grown. It goes on producing excellent fruits, but, inevitably, others also that are of lesser quality. One thing is sure, however, it is that the root is healthy, even holy, puffed up with stamina which justifies all hopes.   

Review

With the past years in sight, the courageous peasants of the first hour recognize that their exodus from the South to the North was for them their real baptism. Their solidarity made them capable to knock down a wall that, before their departure, had at times seemed to them as impassable.  The machetes and the axes have broken for good the chains which kept them tied down to their miserable past. Since then, they have the deep conscience of finally EXISTING, and of being free!       

They are not anymore poor people bound to centuries of powerlessness, dependent on the passing fancies of nature, neither of the unclearable  will of a God hiding in the heights; they are aware that they can build  themselves from internal forces that they did not recognized as being present in them. From now on, «to be born anew», «to pass from death to life», to become «new beings», «children of the Kingdom» is not a mystery anymore. They live it out in their muscles, in their head, in their heart since they have decided to leave everything and be on the move without looking back.  Their faith has led them to take the big plunge in the name of Jesus, and it worked! For them, it is clear that God is really with them and that nothing is impossible. They are from now on capable, with God’s help, to assume entirely by themselves the continuity of their beautiful project.    

The end

The two missionaries who accompanied them until then can now turn themselves towards other horizons. After giving himself body and soul for more than one year to that «New Palestine», Normand hears a different call to which he enters in the truth of his heart and goes back to Canada and to civil life.  Jean-Louis, for his part, remains on the spot to pursue his work of accompaniment for another ten years. Afterwards he goes back to the South where, for another twelve years, he takes care of the communities of Goascorán and helps them to organize the first cooperatives. Finally, he ends up in one of the less fortunate districts of         Tegucigalpa, the capital, where he will give birth to the TAC, a vast network of small cooperatives that goes on prospering while improving the lot of thousands of families.  He will dedicate himself to that project for fifteen years until ataxia, a nasty sickness, forces him to take his retreat in Québec.         

That’s it ! Here comes to an end the story of the Exodus of a community of peasants who, tearing themselves away from the barren mountains of South Honduras, engaged themselves deep inside the jungle of the North to transplant themselves in the green lands of the Patuca valley; through their faith and their courage those men and women opened the doors of a true paradise to thousands of their kind who, today, share with them a life full of promises.       

That is how a new chapter was added to the long love story between God and the human beings.  We do not know if such a chapter could have been written without the tremendous contribution of Jean-Louis Nadeau and of Normand Landreville; we have serious doubts about that. Still, on the contrary, there is absolutely no doubt that, without playing down the contribution of whoever, that same chapter would have been deprived of its most brilliant and most productive pages.     
                                                                          Eloy Roy


Note – Thanks to Pedro Joaquín Mendoza Tilguant, one of the  heroes of that  epic story, who gave his own testimony about the topic in  the  El Éxodo a la Tierra Prometida ; this little leaflet was one of the sources of the present writing.


October 1, 2015

Kindly translated from the French by JACQUES BOURDAGES.