By Emilie Ng
PRAYER saved internationally renowned French priest Fr Jacques Philippe from almost turning his back on God.
The Community of the Beatitudes priest was in his mid-20s when he experienced “a time of crisis”.
“I was a little lost and I did not go anymore to church,” Fr Philippe said.
This short but difficult period, which Fr Philippe said lasted for about one year, forced the Lorraine-born priest to consider the option of life apart from God.
“In this time, at the moment, I felt it was not possible for me to live without God,” he said.
“Living without God, without the spiritual life, it was going to death.
“So I had a reaction, and I went to the monastery to try and entrust my life to God and ask him what to do.
“And the answer I received was, ‘You have to pray – take a bit of time to pray and you will see, something will happen’.
“So I did, and again, I could find peace.
“I could understand how to live in a good way what the Lord was asking from me.”
The mathematician and scientist is a member of the Community of the Beatitudes, a charismatic order of lay single, married and consecrated men and women founded in France.
Since his ordination in 1985, he has devoted his life to helping people find the “fruits of prayer, a discovery that he said took time and patience”.
“For me prayer is mostly to steer the presence of God and welcome the presence of God,” Fr Philippe said.
“Sometimes I feel his presence – I have light, sometimes I am in silence, in darkness, but no matter, I am just open to his presence and offer my life to him.”
Fr Philippe shared his insights into prayer during retreats throughout Australia including at three talks in Brisbane between December 3 and 13.
His visit to Australia was organised by members of the Community of the Beatitudes in Christchurch, New Zealand, and an affiliate member living in Brisbane.
The French priest said Australians “seem to be very thirsty for a life with the Lord and a desire to meet God in prayer life”.
He said prayer and a spiritual life were “beautiful” and necessary for all people.
“In my personal life, as a man, and as a priest, prayer has been very important because it changed my life,” he said.
“In my limited life, that I can receive such a deep and beautiful love, an immense and infinite love, it’s the most beautiful thing in human existence.”
Prayer was not only important for deepening an individual person’s encounter with God, but was essential for renewing the Church, Fr Philippe said.
“If we want the Church to be renewed and to flourish again, I think the process must be a personal and deeper prayer life and relationship with the Lord.”