Interview With Speaker at International
By Gisèle Plantec
QUEBEC CITY, 17 JUNE 2008 (ZENIT)
It is the hour of the Eucharist, but three things are needed for
Catholics to go deeper in the Eucharistic mystery, said the founder of a
fraternity dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament.
Father Nicolas Buttet is the founder of the Eucharistein Fraternity,
inspired by St. Francis of Assisi in its devotion to evangelical
simplicity and total reliance on God. The community’s life is centered
on Christ in the Eucharist, celebrated in the sacrifice of the Mass and
worshipped in the Blessed Sacrament.
The priest spoke today at the International Eucharistic Congress, under
way in Quebec through Sunday.
He also spoke with ZENIT about what the congress means for Canada, and
what is needed for Catholics to grow in their love for Christ present in
Q: The Church in Canada expects much from this Eucharistic Congress. Do
you believe it can renew the Church? Specifically, what can change?
Father Buttet: When I arrived at the Montreal airport, a young
employee assigned to baggage control asked me about my clothes
wear a brown tunic and a cross
saying in his nice Canadian accent: "What is that?" I answered him:
"It's a religious habit; I am a religious and a priest." He replied:
"Ah, but do people like that still exist?" A good discussion ensued,
curious as he was about something of which he seemed to be totally
Six months ago, I was in Montreal for a three-day session with
business executives. The topic was discernment and there were two
speakers: a philosopher and "the monk." Having arrived at the session, a
man came up to me and said enthusiastically: "You are a monk?" I
answered: "Yes, of a sort." "A Buddhist monk?" he replied with a
curiosity which was not feigned. I answered him: "No, Catholic!"
"Catholic, like the Pope?" he retorted with a rather disquieted and
suspicious air. "Yes!" I replied enthusiastically. And I heard before me
an "Oh no!" gushing forth from the innermost depths of disappointment.
The session unfolded very well afterward and we were able to discuss
frankly this first rather cold contact.
These two examples evidence onerous consequences, of what it is
appropriate to call here the "peaceful revolution" of the 60s, a slow
tsunami, but a tsunami nevertheless that was ecclesial, religious and
The World Youth Day of Toronto already shook this torpor that weighs
on Canadian society, and particularly on this French-speaking part,
which this year celebrates the 400th anniversary of Quebec, called
initially "Mary's city."
It was the first visible ecclesial event since the Church was relegated
outside the public domain. The Eucharistic Congress is a determinant
stage on the path to proposing the faith. It is so because of the
visibility of the event, the extent of the organization, and the
audacity of certain initiatives of Cardinal [Marc] Ouellet and his team.
I am thinking especially of the spiritual effect, of the mobilization of
so many people of good will, of so many parishes, of those perpetual
adorations set up in different places, of the prayer engaged in for
several months already for this Congress. God hears a Church that prays.
God multiplies his works in hearts that are open to his grace.
Q: Can you give us a taste of what you will say at the Congress?
Father Buttet: Cardinal Ouellet asked me to bring, above all, a
personal testimony on the Eucharist. Therefore, I will speak of my
encounter with Jesus-Host, but also of the overwhelming way that my
experiences in the world led me to bring Jesus to so many persons.
I remember a Mass in China, celebrated at the back of a stable, behind
the cows so that the police would not come to look for us.
But I have also asked several young people that we receive in our
community, young people from the street, from the drug milieu, or those
who have experienced depression, to write in a few words their
relationship with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament and what the
Mass and adoration offer them. I will share this.
My conclusion will be very clear: It's the hour of the Eucharist! It's
the "kairos," because its the hour of Christ and in the Eucharist we
have Jesus and the whole mystery of salvation.
John Paul II said that there was no risk of exaggeration in the worship
rendered to this mystery because it is Jesus himself that this worship
addresses. I think we can engage in a "profound revolution," that of
hearts and of society.
Benedict XVI took as a sign and a mission the fact that he ascended the
Chair of Peter at the height of the Eucharistic Year. It was for him the
occasion to engage in the development of Eucharistic worship, the center
of his Petrine ministry. And we know how he went about it. It was he who
asked the bishops to introduce in their dioceses at least a place of
perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He showed them by example,
instituting five [such places] in Rome.
The Eucharist is a school of liberty and a school of charity. But, above
all, it is the source of the supernatural life of the baptized, without
which one remains human, indeed "too human," Nietzsche would have said.
Q: Catholics, including practicing Catholics, are at times not keen
on entering the mystery of the Eucharist. They go to communion without
conviction, out of habit. And yet the Eucharist is vital in a Catholic's
faith. How can one help believers to understand the profound
significance of the Eucharist?
Father Buttet: Quebec's Blessed Dina Belanger, beatified in 1993 by
John Paul II, wrote one day in her diary: "If souls but understood what
treasure they possess in the divine Eucharist, it would be necessary to
protect the tabernacles by impregnable ramparts because, in the delirium
of a holy and devouring hunger, they would themselves go to be nourished
by the Bread of Angels. The churches would be brimming with adorers
consumed by love for the divine prisoner, both during the day and the
But one is not there! It's true that the mystery is so great, the
distance so enormous between that which our senses perceive
— and that which our faith believes
that it isn't easy to enter into the mystery.
I think there are three things to develop: a Eucharistic catechesis
which includes words and examples. "Let us enter the school of saints,
great interpreters of authentic Eucharistic piety," John Paul II said at
the end of his encyclical on the Eucharist.
Second, light must focus on the consecration at Mass and the
tabernacle in churches. I am always astounded by the little devotion
there is during the Eucharistic celebration at the moment of
consecration. It is a moment that is hurried over. One can believe with
words, but with the gestures one poses in these moments one is not
One day I was with friends. The parents had a three-year-old girl. They
had her baptized and then, by tradition and out of duty, went to Mass
with her every Sunday. The girl's aunt is a committed Catholic. It was
time to go to Mass and the mother asked her little girl: "With whom
would you like to go to Mass, with mommy or auntie?" And the girl
answered without hesitation: "with auntie!"
"Why?" her mother asked. "Because she believes!" replied the little girl
with even less hesitation.
I think there are gestures, attitudes which are a catechesis in
I was in China. Zachary, an old catechist, who risked his life to
proclaim Jesus and who had reached 100 years of age had kept, in a
hidden place in his home, a tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament.
Happily, he had me discover his treasure behind a hidden door. Hardly
had we entered the area when Zachary fell to his knees, prostrated
himself with his forehead on the ground and began some prayers. I
understood that it was Jesus who was there! There was no hesitation
The third thing is Eucharistic adoration and Eucharistic devotion
outside of Mass. This mystery is so great that the liturgy alone will
never allow us to go sufficiently deeply. Only a prolonged exposition to
the mystery of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
enables us to enter progressively into the Eucharistic wonder.
I am thinking of the testimony of 21-year-old Maxime: "For me, the
Eucharist is the center of my life. Jesus-Eucharist has pulled me out of
the hell of drugs. Thanks to the Eucharist, my life has been transformed
and I am now happy to live to serve Christ. The Eucharist is my strength
to love, to follow and serve Christ through joys and sorrows. God loves
us infinitely and he will never abandon us."
Interview With Speaker at International Congress
By Gisèle Plantec
QUEBEC, 18 JUNE 2008 (ZENIT)
The founder of a fraternity dedicated to
the Blessed Sacrament says he discovered the same, unique Jesus present
in the Eucharist and in the weakness and poverty of the world's poor and
Father Nicolas Buttet is the founder of the Eucharistein Fraternity, and
was invited to speak Tuesday at the International Eucharistic Congress,
under way in Quebec through Sunday.
He also spoke with ZENIT about his own discovery of the importance of
the Eucharist and the inspirations behind the fraternity he founded.
Part 1 of this interview was published Tuesday.
Q: Can you tell us how you discovered the importance of the
Father Buttet: Some 20 years ago, I was working as a lawyer and
engaged in many political activities as deputy in a cantonal parliament
in Switzerland and as secretary of a national parliamentary group. I was
moreover also confronted both with important social questions as well as
personal problems, of a family and social nature.
In the context of my work in a law office, I was deeply upset by a young
man who had raped and burned seven children. This contact between that
painful reality and my faith wrung a cry from my heart: "If there is no
love, the world will not be able to go on!"
I then decided to experience that love close up by spending my Christmas
holidays at the Cottolengo in Turin, an institution that receives people
suffering from serious physical and mental handicaps.
I remember my arrival in the house: I had left the Swiss parliament and
was landing, ignorant and poor, in the world
new for me
— of our handicapped brothers and sisters. I was immediately
plunged into the reality of the place because, soon after my arrival,
together with a religious brother, we spent two hours washing 18
patients who were filthy from head to toe. After the first reaction to
the odors and colors, I was gripped that night by that word of Christ
who took flesh and what flesh! "As you did it to one of the least of
these my brethren, you did it to me" (Matthew 25).
After having finished washing these handicapped brothers, around
midnight, I went down to the chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was
exposed day and night. For me, it was the shock, the certainty of his
real, corporal Presence. I discovered at the same time the presence of
Jesus, above on the beds in the persons of my invalid brothers and that
shining Presence of Jesus on the altar in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus
was certainly there under the appearance of a brother and under the
appearances of bread. The same and unique Jesus.
That certainty has never left me since that date, even if it is now,
unhappily, and I say it with a contrite heart, faltering and scattered
with so many inconsistencies as regards the exercise of love. I console
myself quoting St. Claude La Colombiere who said: "to say that I am
still not there after more than 10,000 communions!"
Q: Tell us a bit about the Eucharistein Fraternity? What is its
Father Buttet: Our little community is of Franciscan inspiration in
its poor lifestyle and closeness to nature: We build and repair houses
ourselves, we develop agriculture and forestry. We are certainly rooted
in the Eucharistic life. It's the heart of our life and our vocation. We
have daily adoration in our houses from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m two to three
nights a week. We have also launched, with laymen and the permission of
the bishop, perpetual adoration in Fribourg, Switzerland: 24 hours a
day, seven days a week.
The inspiration of our Eucharistic life comes from St. Peter Julien
Eymard, a great prophet of the Eucharist of the 19th century. It was he
who said: "I have often reflected on the remedies to that universal
indifference that takes hold of so many Catholics in a frightful way,
and I find only one: the Eucharist, the love of the Eucharistic Jesus.
The loss of faith comes from the loss of love."
On another occasion, he said: "Now, one must get to work, save souls
through the divine Eucharist and wake up France and Europe, engulfed in
a sleep of indifference because they do not know Jesus, the gift of God,
the Eucharistic Emmanuel. It's the torch of love that must be carried to
lukewarm souls, who believe themselves to be pious and are not so
because they have not established their center and their life on the
We also receive young people in difficulties. We are inspired in this by
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in that relationship between the Sacrament of
the altar and the sacrament of a brother. It is there that we
experience, almost clinically, if I dare say so, the force and strength
of reconstruction and grace of Jesus in his sacrament of love. In a
word, we have special missions, parishes, politicians and businessmen,
and the spiritual animation of the Philanthropos institute. And, of
course, our inspirer in this mission of being all to all is St. Francis