Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

* Henri Perrin *


Almighty Lord our God, direct our steps into the way of peace and strengthen our hearts to obey your commandments; may the Day-spring visit us from on high and give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; that they may adore you for your mercy, follow you for your truth, desire you for your sweetness, who are the blessed Lord God of Israel.


O you waves of free salvation, onward sweep from day to day,
until all trace of desolation from our earth is washed away.

O you waves of free salvation, wondrous joy to mortals bring,
giving souls a glad translation to the palace of the King.

O you waves of free salvation, still enrich this world of ours,
until each high and lowly station shall be bright with sweetest flowers.

O you waves of free salvation, tarry not for wind or tide;
may each heart, in acceptation, to your gladness open wide.

O you waves, roll on, roll on! With a mighty sweep, roll on,
until the lost are gathered in, saved forevermore from sin.

( Mrs. J. M. Hunter, early twentieth century )

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Henri Perrin, worker priest: outside the ecclesiastical ghetto

In Paris in the 1940’s, several Roman Catholic priests asked their bishop to allow them to start a new ministry to the working class of Paris which had been long estranged from the church. They applied for jobs in the factories of Paris and worked alongside the men and women they hoped to serve. They did not broadcast their identity as priests, but built their relationships from the ground up, as co-workers. Henri Perrin was one of the founders of the movement.

Peter Collins wrote of it this way: "They began to see that the absence of the poor from the Church signalled not simply a gulf to be filled by 'bringing them back', but a radical rethinking of the whole mission of the Church.”

During World War II French workers were conscripted by the government to do factory work in Germany. Perrin and others volunteered to accompany them. It was out of this experience that the worker priest movement was born. After the war, in 1947, their bishop gave them his blessing and the experiment began. Perrin found work in a Plastics factory. When his priestly identity was discovered, his coworkers gave him a level of respect and friendship he claimed he had never received as a parish priest.

Though the French bishops were enthusiastic, their enthusiasm was not matched in Rome where the church bureaucrats were afraid to get the Church too mixed up with French communists. They ordered the worker priest movement to disband in 1954. This threw Henri Perrin into a real crisis.

“It is impossible that I should return to the ghetto,” he wrote to a friend.

His choices were bleak. Before he could reach a conclusion, he was tragically killed in a motorbike accident on the twenty-fifth of October, 1954, at the age of forty.

Quote: “With us, or without us, or in spite of us, God will fill that gulf—if only we don’t put too many spokes in the wheel.”
( Henri Perrin )

Scripture: In "The Second Letter to the Thessalonians," chapter three, at verses seven and eight we read:

For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour, we worked night and day so that we might not burden any of you.


We pray...

... for worker priests, workplace chaplains and priests and missionaries who support themselves through their own labour.

... for the people of Slovenia who celebrate their national day today.

... for shopworkers under the threat of redundancy because of shop closures.

... for the people of Yemen on the brink of famine. DETAILS

... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.


From "A Friend To All Men: The Diary Of A Worker-Priest" by Egide van Broeckhoven, 1933-1967:

In the same way that God's love took flesh in time, our apostolic love must become a tangible reality in time, with the same consequences for us as for Christ; otherwise, it is a parody, a half-truth or, at least, a very crippled love.

If we truly love others and the world, the love of Christ will urge us to go meet them in a concrete and tangible way. And not only for a determined, more-or-less long time according to the free choice of a dilettante (it is not enough, for example, to spend a few weeks experimenting with working in a factory), but really and totally in historical time. We must share concretely the life of others and of the world, just as God shared concretely in our life by living it with us: Christ came on earth for more than a few weeks; the Father did not send his son into the world to make his residence here a training course in gathering data for the efficient operation of Providence, which would then carry on the business from high in his heaven. Neither did he send him into the world to preach a mission, to say things clearly and distinctly and to proclaim his message of salvation from the high pulpit of truth. We must not only proclaim the message of salvation to men; we must ourselves become this message, just as Christ became for our sake the message of salvation.

Proclaiming the word of God from high on the pulpit of truth does not really mean very much if we do not encounter the man we are speaking to personally and in depth; this is where the Father speaks his word to him. Let us illustrate this with an example in order to understand the meaning of sharing life concretely with others (and in order to surmise where this can lead).

It is enough to go out for a bike ride, even a short one, with the boys in the Dam quarter of Anvers. It was only thanks to these days spent really together, and only because I had become tangible to them in my concrete reality as a person, that, on the Domburg beach, they were able to ask me the first question they thought of, as we were stretched out in a circle, telling jokes, all of us tired out after a wrestling match: “But what made you want to become a priest?" A rather surprising question at that precise moment, but perfectly authentic and genuine, given our really concrete friendship. The comparison might seem audacious, but we shall make it anyway. Had not Christ already spent a long time with his apostles, before they were ready to ask him the question: “But who are you?" Moreover. this question was just as perfectly genuine and authentic, coming from them, as the question Philip asked. “But this Father of yours, we would sure like to meet him some day; that's all we ask, nothing else."


Almighty God, your son, Jesus Christ, hallowed human labour by working with his hands in the carpenter shop in Nazareth. May your church value and respect the hard work of men and women, especially those whose work is dangerous or burdensome. Continue to send us renewers of the Church such as Henri Perrin, so that your grace may find a home in the places where your people toil. Through Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


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