Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 18th, 2010

After WWII, France witnessed a flood of refugees coming from Germany, eastern Europe, and Africa.  People and babies were dying frozen in the streets of Paris.  Whole families were without shelter or any kind of jobs. It Happened that Abbot Pierre was elected deputy in the Parliament; he had served in the French Resistance whisking Jews to Switzerland.

Abbot Pierre started the Emmaus movement to finding shelter and jobs to immigrant families and enabling the downtrodden regaining dignity and offering reasons to resume living.  Emmaus refers to the two brothers in the New Testament:  They terribly disillusioned after the crucifixion of Jesus and then recaptured enthusiasm after recognizing Jesus.  In Greek, “en-theos” means “to be with the Eternal Love”.

There was a youth hostel and disoriented youth doubted of any meaning to life. Abbot Pierre started this movement to aid disillusioned youth after the war and news of the atomic bombs destroying cities in Japan, entire cities in Germany flattened, and the existence of concentration camps and the horrors that mankind experienced and witnessed.

Then, Abbot Pierre met George, a released prisoner who served 20 years of his sentence in the horrible prisons in French Guyannes (South America). Abbot Pierre was summoned to save George who committed suicide and told him: “You are terribly miserable.  I have too much dept and cannot help you financially.  But you, since you want to die and have no one to turn to, wouldn’t you help me saving the other hungry people waiting to be aided?”  George became the first member of Emmaus and before dying, 15 years later, he confessed to Abbot Pierre: “You could have given me money, work, and a house and still I would have tried again to committing suicide.  What I lacked then were reasons to live.”

People were being evicted; a woman was found frozen to death with the eviction notice in her hands.  Hungry and disillusioned people were found hiding to die in their pain and suffering; like cats and dogs.  Abbot Pierre wrote a letter to the minister of Reconstruction: “Send the troops:  They will be of no use.  Natural law supersedes written laws.  You have got to respect life before any laws.  Either you take on your responsibilities to accommodating the homeless families or I cannot see how you can prevent me from resuming building shelters with or without building permits.”

As homelessness increased during the winter season of 1954, Emmaus built without permit in abandoned lands and fitted out decrepit properties.  Abbot Pierre warned the authorities: “If you ever ask me to show you building permits then, I will march and summon the press under the slogan “Permission to live”.  Is there any laws that allow babies to die of hunger and cold?  If proprietors legally allowed erecting tents and people died frozen in these tents then, is it legal for babies and mothers to die of cold and diseases?  It is intolerable that deaths of babies is not considered a crime while not having a building permit is.  We are ready to violate any such orders till Judgement Day.  Life created laws.  Laws have no business freezing life!”

Abbot Pierre resigned from the Parliament and was forced to go begging from street to street to finding shelters for the homeless. He said: ” I cried of humiliation at first but then I discovered jubilation deep inside me for doing “what was not to be done”.  Emmaus movement started collecting cloth and food from garbage bins and the refuse of hospitals, prisons, hotels, and restaurants.

Once, Abbot Pierre and another companion were summoned to rescue a couple of very old persons trapped in an attic.  They struggled in the freezing weather and hunger to removing the couple to a decent shelter.  After a job well done, the companion asked Abbot Pierre:  “what is God?”  Abbot Pierre replied “Didn’t you just said that you feel extremely happy and that it was a great day?” (To be continued)




September 2010

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