His attitude, according to Fr. Bonino, reflected a sense of the absoluteness of the primacy of God.
“In the great Christian tradition of abandonment to the divine providence, he adhered with all his heart to God’s will, convinced that it was the only way to make his life fruitful, and that we can commune with God through every event of our life, that nothing happens outside of providence,” he said.
Bonino added that, although his condition didn’t enable him to develop a systematic teaching, Vayssière would recover enough strength over time to become a great director of souls.
During his three decades of service at the Grotto, in addition to being a moral and spiritual point of reference for countless lay people and clergymen, Fr. Marie-Etienne enriched the site through several large projects. He also founded the nearby spiritual retreat house, Nazareth du Sacré-Coeur, in 1929. In addition, he helped to inspire the creation of a secular institute, L’Oeuvre de S. Catherine (“The Work of St. Catherine”), which would become Caritas Christi in 1937.
In this sense, he is considered one of the inspirations behind the rise of lay orders in the 20th century, and, more generally, one of the pioneers of the universal call to holiness, as he was convinced that holiness was for everyone and used to grant a great spiritual freedom to those he accompanied.
“He had the sense of the greatness of religious life, but for him, holiness was this union of every moment with God’s will, and that, lay people can do it, too,” Bonino commented. “Then Vatican II emphasized that, but it was far from being obvious at that time.”
Another prophetic trait, according to Bonino, was Vayssière’s constant remembrance that God had to remain the center of every human action.
“It is comparable to what Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote in God or Nothing one century later: Christianity can produce great things in the intellectual or social field, but these things are vain if one forgets that nothing is more important than God,” he said.
“It sounds a bit steep, but it is necessary to recall it these days.”
Vayssière’s exemplary life led him to be elected Dominican Provincial of Toulouse, first at the 1932 chapter and then for a second mandate in 1936. At a crucial and very sensitive time in the history of France and the entire world, on the eve of World War II, he devoted his last energies to his brothers and the development of his province, before taking his last breath on Sept. 15, 1940.
His writings, which were all published posthumously and have long been out of print, have been partly republished in recent years. New publications are expected to accompany his cause of beatification.
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