In this new heading, each time we are going to comment a part of the Rover Departure ceremony. The aim is to discover better and better how this commitment is a true path towards holiness.
The rover departure is the purpose of scouting. It means that a scout rover is not a social climber. On the contrary, he has understood that life is always a departure towards the House of the Father, as we say in the rover’s prayer. Let us look at what is happening in the House of the Father. In the book of Revelation (7, 9-10), we hear saint John telling us:
“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb!”
On All Saints’ Day, this passage is offered as first reading during the Mass: the Church celebrates all saints in a unique movement. All of them have lived Love and have given a testimony, in their own way, of the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ. On All Saints’ Day, we celebrate the continuity of the Paschal Mystery, through the centuries, as we may contemplate it first in the Virgin Mary, carried by the angels in the celestial Court of honour. The saints are waiting for us there. However, they already accompany us, here and now, by their example and their intercession. Thanks to these friends in Heaven, we may discover the path that leads us directly to the House of the Father.
Fully irradiated with celestial light
In his homily in Vézelay in 2016, Cardinal Robert Sarah quoted Guy de Larigaudie:
I have always had, deep in my heart, the nostalgia of heaven, even more now that I know better the beauties of the world. Heaven will be the fulfilment of all these beauties; life leads us to it on a path the length of which we don’t know. But why should I be sadder to go ahead on this path since Light is at the end?
Who among us does not feel an attraction for beauty, truth and good, which are already glimpses of the splendour of God? This is what Jesus refers to in his sermon on the mountain: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5, 8). To be a saint means that we lead our life with determination in the Light of God. Night is the absence of light. Then beauty, truth and good disappear, and sin becomes common. Yet the art of holiness consists in accepting to be led towards Light and to let it enlighten our steps. Thus, the road of our life becomes a path of the heart. The pure of heart have a life totally inclined towards beauty, truth and good. They are going to see God, already on this earth, in the heart of the world. They will see Him act by his grace, and will even become similar to Jesus.
So the ceremony of the rover departure always starts on a road, blocked by some immobile rovers. The candidate asks: “Chief, if it pleases God and yourself, I ask to become a European Rover Scout”. Before going ahead on his road, he must know what this road consists of. The road begins inside himself. It consists of an ever-deeper union with God, so that his grace and his strength may be more and more expressed in daily life. Then the rover will become bigger and stronger, more and more a witness of God’s love for all men.
A freedom to conquer
God is so near us, around us, in us! The wind that strokes our face, the bird that sings, the mountain that goes up in the sky, a delicious flower in the rocks, the huge sky, the vibrating silence of things, a smile, a look of love, everything reveals the one who creates them, infundens esse (infusing the being), leaving everywhere the track of his passage. In us, he is the source of our being, more intimate to us than ourselves. But he is not an impersonal strength. He has a name. He is called the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is a communion of knowledge and love, infinite gift of himself. He is looking for our answer. He wants our free love, for love can only be free.1
The road leads to a life of total love and service. In order to be able of it, one must conquer freedom. True freedom is not mere autonomy. If we want to live in an autonomous way, we become prisoners of our impulsions and of the world that surrounds us. On the contrary, true freedom is to come off all the creatures in order to be able to say with all our heart “yes” to our Creator who carries us and who makes us grow. This freedom gives us the possibility to choose our links by love. This is why the road is blocked by other rovers and why the chief will ask some questions. Because if the candidate wants to become a Rover Scout, he must agree with the main directions. He is not the only one to decide. He must want to live the same ideal. He must have the House of the Father as his focus, like the ones who preceded him.
Freedom, or life of a child of God, requires then the purity of heart. First of all, he must learn to keep his heart pure and to ask himself: “For which cause does my heart beat? Isn’t it true that there are various depths in my heart and that I am not always living at the same depth? I have to go deeper, to dig deeper in my inner treasure. The deeper I go, the nearer I get to the Light. It is in the deeper part of my soul that the thrice-holy God has been dwelling in me since my Baptism. It is there that He wants to give me his grace and make me take part in his life.”
“God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth” (1 Jn 1, 5b-6). This is the big mystery of Christian faith starting at our Baptism: the Holy Trinity dwells in us and wants to share its Life with us.
The Grace of Baptism
It is the faith in God-Trinity, revealed in Jesus Christ, dead and arisen, that changes everything. It is thanks to his resurrection that all He has said and announced receives its absolute authority. It was not on Good Friday, when Jesus died on the Cross, that the apostles began to proclaim the Gospel but after Easter, the Ascension and finally Pentecost.
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we discover that sin and death, all that destroys man, have not the last word. The power by which the devil wanted to destroy the creation is neutralized at the root. God, who is always creative, has found a unique way to suppress the sting of death, while respecting man’s freedom. An unequalled creative act began with the humble “yes” of the Holy Virgin Mary. When Jesus died on the Cross, he said: “It is finished”. This was a decisive turning-point of history, that nothing can stop, even if the powers of darkness flared up like roaring lions, looking for preys to eat up. We have said “no” to “satan, his pomps and his works” at the moment of our Baptism, through the mouth of our parents, and we have repeated this “no” during each Paschal Vigil.
We have also said a firm “yes” to the thrice-holy God. We have confessed our Christian faith, we have been anointed by the Chrism and we have lit up the light. We are really children of God and this will never change. God lives in us, in our soul. We must no longer look for Him elsewhere. Now, the point is to let Him act and to fight with him against sin and evil. Here is the scenario of our life, in which we play the lead role. So, let’s go ahead.
Father Servaas Bosch
(to be followed)
1 A Carthusian, Le chemin du vrai bonheur. Presses de la Renaissance, 2016, p. 27-28.