Friday, August 10, 2007

"You Were a Manner of Miracle"

With intense thanks to a friend at the French desk for the translation, here is the La Croix account of this morning's funeral:
Towards 10 a.m., the coffin, carried by six priests in violet stoles as ordered by Mgr Lustiger in 2004, arrived in the square, followed by procession of 50 bishops and 16 cardinals. According to the archbishop's palace, there were also 500 priests present. The ceremony began on the square of the cathedral, where over 2000 people had gathered under a gray sky, for the reading of the Jewish prayer for the dead, Kaddish.

In homage to the Jewish origins of Jean-Marie Lustiger, born Aaron and converted with Catholicism at the 14 years age, his second-cousin twice removed, Jonas Moses-Lustiger, head capped with he traditional kippa, poured soul from the Holy land in a cup placed on the coffin. The young man wanted to say simply "thank you" to Jean-Marie Lustiger by retelling a recent episode with the sick cardinal, "one of the most beautiful moments of [his] life." "I realized that I had not asked you what I could do for you and you simply answered me that I could do two things: to pray for you and to have a happy life."

He then read Psalm 113, in Hebrew and then in French, before Arno Lustiger, a cousin of the deceased, read the "mourner's Kaddish", a traditional Jewish prayer.

Then the Mass, transmitted outside on giant screen, was celebrated in the cathedral where 3000 people were seated. The cardinal's coffin was deposited on the floor of the Cathedral, in front of the altar under a giant portrait of Lustiger.

The president of the Republic Nicolas Sarkozy, having returned of his American holidays to attend the ceremony, sat on the right side of the central nave along with Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, and several members of the government. Beside them were representatives of the other religions and the Jewish community into which Cardinal Lustiger was born. The family of the cardinal was seated on the left side of the central nave.

During the Mass, Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois, successor of Cardinal Lustiger, pronounced a message and also the homily.

In front of the coffin surrounded by six candles to point out "the light of the faith", Mgr Andre Vingt-Trois paid homage to Lustiger by evoking a "spiritual master", underlining "the exceptional personality" of his predecessor.

He also underlined the part played by Lustiger "in the development of the relations between the Jews and the Christians with the encouragement and the support of John-Paul II". He added a mention "of the decisive actions, which perhaps only Lustiger could have taken."
The late cardinal, who was member of the French Academy, received the homage of the perpetual secretary of this institution, Maurice Druon. Druon lauded Lustiger as a "man above all men." The notice of Lustiger's death on Sunday "took on a vaster importance and more significance each hour", added Mr. Druon, "as if his human form had hidden his grandeur, which finally appeared, in its total amplitude, as the image of a man above all men". Recalling the Jewish origins of Jean-Marie Lustiger, convert to Catholicism, Maurice Druon addressed himself to his fellow "immortal": "you were, Jean-Marie, for a quarter century, a manner of miracle: incredible to behold, the inconceivable expressed, the impossible existent; you were the Jewish cardinal". "In a world in crisis, you took up, renewed and reconciled in yourself the bases of our civilization and helped it to withstand the blows not of modernism but of religion", insisted Maurice Druon at the solemn funeral. The speech of Mr. Drouon received applause.

Then Cardinal Paul Poupard, representing of the pope, read a message from Benedict XVI (which the Pope had telegrammed to Mgr Vingt-Trois earlier in the week).

At the end of the ceremony, at which [former First Lady] Bernadette Chirac and former Polish president Lech Walesa were also present, the body of Lustiger, archbishop of 1981 to 2005, was to be buried in the crypt of the cathedral, a closed crypt located under the choir of Notre-Dame, inaccessible to the public, where since the 17th century the archbishops of the capital rest. A commemorative plate is to be installed in the cathedral on which the following message of Jean-Marie Lustiger will be inscribed:

I was born Jewish.

I recived the name

Of my paternal grandfather, Aaron

Having become Christian

By faith and by Baptism,

I have remained Jewish

As did the Apostles.
I have as my patron saints
Aaron the High Priest,
Saint John the Apostle,
Holy Mary full of grace.
Named 139th archbishop of Paris
by His Holiness Pope John-Paul II,
I was enthroned in this Cathedral
on 27 February 1981,
And here I exercised my entire ministry.
Passers by, pray for me.
† Aaron Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger
Archevêque de Paris

From KTO in Paris -- the television network founded by the late cardinal -- uncut video of the funeral liturgy, with outdoor prelude (click "Regarder la video").

PHOTO 1: Reuters/Michael Euler
PHOTO 2: Reuters/Regis Duvignau