A life focused on the Eucharist

In 1990, Michel met a community of Brazilian Sisters in Rome. They contacted him again recently in order to ask him to tell them, in a few lines, what has constituted, and still constitutes, the meaning of his life.

Dear Sisters
I understand that you are asking me, 'How would I now describe the meaning of my life?'
When I made my final profession in 1960, I did so "because of Jesus, the Gospel, and for my Brothers who were deep-sea fishermen, especially those in Concarneau". For it was in that small fishing town that the marine fraternity was founded in 1949. It became my permanent home; indeed I’m still there at the age of eighty!
Michel, with his captainMichel, with his captainFor thirty years I was a professional deep-sea fisherman, and I still do leisure in-shore fishing in a small boat, to keep in touch with my roots.
I started working on North Sea trawlers in 1954. Spending two weeks at sea and only three days on shore, I had little opportunity to attend a Eucharist. Then I did tuna fishing off West Africa. I was on board for four months at a time, then on leave for two months, and very busy during the stopovers. Finally, with the same company, I was at sea for five months and three weeks without a Eucharist.
Now I am in the same position in my wooden pre-fabricated house, where I have been on my own since the last brother left for reasons of ill health. I spend some of my time alone in the house's small chapel, where Jesus is present sacramentally, even though he is not there "as in an actual place", as it is said, and I welcome my friends, those who still remain, at least.in the chapel, with Guillaumein the chapel, with Guillaume
As I come close to the end of my life, I am aware, sometimes painfully so, that I have nothing to leave behind me: no descendants, no conversions, no baptisms, and so few Eucharists. And I am the last brother in Concarneau; there will be no-one there when I’m gone. It is my 'Nazareth', freely given. So, what is it that gives me life?
On the fishing vessels each sailor had his own bunk in a common mess room. Over mine I used to hang a small wooden cross which a Little Sister of Jesus had given me; it had been her postulant's cross in the fifties. I used to rest my eyes on this little cross, and it would remind me of the meaning of my life. This is what I was moving towards.
Jesus received life from his Father and gave it willingly, for nothing. "No one takes [my life] from me; I lay it down of my own free will." (John 10:18)
Charles de Foucauld gave his life for the Tuareg people, going without the Eucharist, in order to "be with them".
I too believe that God has captured me. And I let myself be captured, as the prophet Jeremiah says. God has been faithful – for which I never cease to give him thanks.

What shall I find when my time comes? I do not know. St John of the Cross had an answer, which I should like to share: "What I do know is that a great Love awaits me".
So, what remains?
In the Fraternity, we have often discussed and thought about the 'Eucharistic life', that is to say living in communion with Jesus' life, which he offered to his Father in exchange for the life of humankind, for our life. Our Hope can come only from the risen Christ; there is no other source.
Yet from Jesus come the Beatitudes, and for me there is a burning question: "Have I been faithful to the teaching of Jesus in the Beatitudes? How have I looked on my fellow human beings?"
If we are often deprived of the Eucharist, we can become one with the mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection, depending on the depth of our love. That is the life lived by many Christians, ordinary life, without the Eucharist.
I’ll pass on what Father Voillaume wrote in response to my questions:
"The Eucharistic life is in essence that of God's presence hidden from people, a life offered in sacrifice to God for our brothers, a mysterious entrance into the redemptive prayer of Jesus the Saviour. We must learn to desire the sacraments of Faith, while remaining certain that Jesus gives us the same graces in other ways, because we have that desire and because we have put ourselves in such a situation through our love for Him."

So in conclusion, it is my contemplation of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, which has enabled me to continue - the one whom Charles de Foucauld called his “beloved Brother and Lord Jesus.”
I had to seek him in nature, when on night watch beneath a starry sky or on an angry sea. I had to seek him in the brothers I was constantly rubbing shoulders with on board, or in my employers, who were so far away. This depended on the quality of my vision and the depth of my love, so it was always relative. But in the Eucharist, whatever my feelings he was always there, as Martha said to Mary, "The Lord is there, waiting for you." So when in port I was always keen to go to a chapel to find him there whenever I could.
I am sorry this letter has been so long. Writing it has made me live through my life afresh, something for which I am immensely grateful. All those people with whom I sailed, especially those who were lost at sea (about twenty of them), not to mention the others I knew - I can still see all their faces very clearly. And that is quite something, especially as there are also the widows and orphans.
Thank you for getting in touch with me.
With very best wishes from your Little Brother of Jesus and deep sea fisherman.