Todo - Nada

Chapter 8

Priest and Victim


It is on May 21st, on the night of the Ascension – the same evening of that feast according to the Solar hour -that Father La Praz gave back his priestly soul to God. His life had only been one long suffering, a calvary of unsuspected intensity of which the hospitalizations and innumerable operations give only an imperfect account. His illness was more than something that happens by accident. Providence has shown a posteriori that his priestly vocation could only be in the cross, as victim. Moreover it is the only certainty which had accompanied him during the last weeks of his earthly life. He knew he was lost inescapably, without knowing however the expiry date, the more or less proximity of his recall to God, and that for him was the grounds of a great moral ordeal he struggled with the unknown. But he knew one thing with an unshakable certainty: he repeated in his hospital bed “my vocation is a vocation to suffer.”

To try to understand a little the mystery of this priestly soul given into the hands of God to be crushed for His glory and for the salvation of souls, we must return to his entry into the seminary in October, 1980. Father La Praz had been struck then by a phrase of Saint Mary Magdalen of Pazzi upon which he meditated so much as it seemed to him to reflect the priestly life "Pati, non mori – to suffer, not to die." A little more than a year later, on January 29th, 1982 on the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, he achieved a decisive step in his long calvary – his hospitalization. God had called him, only to model him through pure suffering on His crucified Divine Son.

His response? He repeated it to us on his hospital bed: "I have signed a blank cheque to God. It is up to him to put in the amount which will please Him – Fiat!" This total gift of himself, he never took back. One could even say that it was at every hour of the day and of the night that he took up his "cheque book" to sign and to leave it to God to inscribe the amount of suffering which was necessary to the Church, to the Society and to souls.


Victim before becoming Priest.

The Prophet Isaias said of Our Lord: "Oblatus est quia Ipse voluit – He was delivered up because He Himself wanted it". This phrase explains all the fruitfulness of Father La Praz's ministry of suffering for souls, for his seminarian colleagues, for priests, well before his ordination. Moreover, Father Mateo Crowley, apostle of the Sacred Heart, said that "the apostolate of suffering is as doctrinally true as that of Calvary". In order to understand this a little, it suffices to look back at the notes of his 30 Day Retreat in 1985, to see to what extent he had desired this apostolate: “Lord, deign to accept this poor gift of myself with all my weaknesses, my imperfections and my feeble will. Accept this offering of my body through suffering, contempt, the abandonment and the lack of understanding. Strike this poor little person who has so offended You, but who henceforth desires only to act through love for You. Receive the gift of my blood up to the total sacrifice for the redemption of souls. One life, one sacrifice, one love. Fiat – Todo - Nada – Deo Gratias!” He had understood, to the point of complete contempt of himself, the profound sense of Our Lord' s appeal, of His thirst for souls, His thirst for love in return for His. “Oh Lord, You have made me understand that the summary of all vocations is found in the acceptance of Your Cross. In the voluntary suffering is found the highest degree of prayer in the order of the Cross and of the Redemption... Lord, I desire Your grace only to sustain me in the offering and the desire for all the sufferings which You will deign to send me. To You the glory, to me oblivion. Deo gratias, Fiat.”


Victim of his priesthood

If Father La Praz was victim before being a priest, he was much more so after his ordination because through the sacerdotal unction, he became priest and victim. It is true that every priest offers himself with Our Lord on the altar, that every priest seeks or should seek this conformity with Him who is Priest and Host in himself and by the exercise of the priestly nature. But Father La Praz had become so much priest, if one can speak thus, that he was nothing else than a victim. He lived a continuous Mass, where one could catch a glimpse of Him of Whom it is said by Isaias (1,6) “A planta pedis usque ad verticem capitis non est in eo sanitas – from the sole of his feet up to the crown of his head, there was nothing healthy left.” Anyone who had heard of Father La Praz could identify his soul as well with the reality of continual suffering. He had so penetrated and was so deeply imbued with Jesus' thirst for souls that he never ceased to channel all his energies, not only to offer his sufferings, but to thank God for giving them to him and even to ask for more. Moreover, it happened more than once, that he suffered such pain, that his physical nature overcame his will thereby making him moan or even cry out aloud because of the pain. This however was the first reaction which was quickly corrected by his “My God, more for the conversion of poor sinners!”

The faithful who have attended the Masses he offered after having undergone an operation or the last Masses he was able to offer, are the witnesses of this extraordinary strength which he displayed even to get up from a genuflection. If one dared to suggest to him not to make them, or, at least, not to make as many, invariably the answer came with a slight smile: “I offer it up for all the priests who no longer make any genuflection”.

However, as the good God usually brings the sacrifice to the limit with a soul who shows no resistance, Father La Praz, was obliged to desist from what he cherished most in the whole world: the Holy Mass and the Breviary .He had not been able to celebrate the Holy Mass since the previous September 29th, feast of St. Michael the Archangel and the last Mass he was able to attend was the Easter Sunday Mass said by Father Le Roux and served by his own brother François. As regards the Breviary, his esteem for it led him to shed tears when unable to recite it and he asked his confreres to recite it in silence beside his bed of suffering in order that he could at least unite with them in spirit.

Then the good God consumed it all. He exhausted all his "poor little being" as he used to say to himself in the same manner that aflame consumes a candle. “Lord I give back to You my body and my soul again and always. Do what You will with them. Perhaps I will be subject to illness which I will not understand. Then give me Your grace! Strengthen my weak will so that my Fiat be always effective and efficient. …Fidelity through grace, resolute will, conformity to Your designs shall be the mark of my Fiat and of my love O my All, take my nothingness!”

Fr. Philippe Lovey
Superior for the District of


Chapter 7

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