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The homily preached by Francois-Marie Lethel, O.C.D., at the funeral of Guy Gaucher, O.C.D., "Therese's bishop," on July 10, 2014 at the Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux

color photo of priests in white vestments carrying Bishop Gaucher's coffin out of the Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux

Photo Credit: Paris Province of the Discalced Carmelite Friars


delivered by François-Marie Lethel, O.C.D.,
a Carmelite friar of the Paris province,
at the funeral of his brother, Guy Gaucher, O.C.D.,
a Carmelite friar of the same province,
the auxiliary bishop emeritus of Bayeux and Lisieux,
and the friend of Thérèse,
on July 10, 2014 in the Basilica of St. Thérèse at Lisieux

Dear Friends,

            Our brother Guy Gaucher brings us together to celebrate together the Passover of Jesus in this Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. He brings us together as his brothers, his friends, and each of us has a personal bond with him.

             He asked me to give this homily because I am his brother in the Carmelite Order, in our Province of Paris, and especially because we entered the novitiate on the same day, September 21, 1967, on the feast of St. Matthew. On the following October 2, we both received the Carmelite habit at the hands of Fr Bernard Delalande, Provincial.  Then, at the end of the novitiate year, we made our Religious Profession on October 3, 1968, which was then the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. After that, it was always Thérèse who brought us together with so many brothers and sisters, so many friends, believers and non-believers, present in one way or another at this moment..

            Our brother Guy himself chose the readings of Holy Scripture that we have just heard, and it is these texts that illuminate our Celebration. The words of St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans tell us the true meaning of his whole life and of his death: to live for Jesus, to die for Jesus, to belong to Jesus Dead and Risen, Unique Lord of the dead and of the living.  With the words of the Gospel of Luke, Guy invites us to relive, as he did, this journey of the two disciples of Emmaus on which the Risen Jesus came to meet them in the depth of their sadness, their inner turmoil, to revive in their hearts the flame of Hope, of Faith and of Love, so that their sorrow will turn into joy. But above all, through his own testimony, Guy comes to repeat to us these words of Jesus: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer his Passion in order to enter into his Glory?”

          Dear Friends, let’s listen to Guy himself, speaking to all of us at the end of his Spiritual Testament:

I thank all those who have loved me, formed me, helped me throughout my life: my parents, already gone; my family, and a great number of faithful friends in all ecclesial vocations and in the world. 

I thank above all her who entered into life saying “All is grace.”

I have tried to be in the service of her mission: to give her evangelical little way to the people of all five continents.  How she welcomes me!

I give thanks for her Doctorate, one of the high points of my life, that October 19, 1997 in Rome, Mission Sunday, the eleventh anniversary of my episcopal ordination, thanks to John Paul II.

Amen!  Alleluia!

          In these few lines, our Brother Guy tells us again in a magnificent way what was the most beautiful and most characteristic facet of his life, which is his extraordinary spiritual communion with little Thérèse.

          He reiterates this in a more developed fashion in his Simple personal notes:

On that October 19, 1997, Mission Sunday (the eleventh anniversary of my ordination as a bishop), I felt that my life had reached its goal, a goal which had been decided for me, almost without my knowledge.

Thérèse, patron of missions, of France, and of the world: the mission was at the heart of my life as a layman (Cœur vaillant, JEC, patro, Centre Richelieu), as a priest in Paris, as a Carmelite friar in HLM Orleans-La Source (such a beautiful time in my life, 16 years), as bishop (short-lived) of Meaux, then of Lisieux.

I owe first to Thérèse this flawless realism in the face of human weakness, the sin, the wounds, the walls, and the nights that sweeps away any naïveté, any narcissistic generosity and seriously confronts the unprecedented abasement of the Incarnate Word to “his poor little creature.”

I can say that Thérèse taught me much about the truth of the Gospel, making it livable, possible, because everything comes from God, in short, because “Everything is grace,” from which, consequently, flows constant thanksgiving.

Of course, she is not the only one who has enlightened me, but she has brought me from the most banal daily life into the world of holiness, which is at once loneliness and love, suffering and joy.

            For Guy, this same date of October 19 symbolized the deep bond between his Episcopal Ordination and the proclamation of Thérèse as a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II.  Recall that, exactly 11 years later, on October 19, 2008, Guy had the joy of participating in the beatification of the Parents of Thérèse, Louis and Zelie Martin, here in Lisieux. And it is from the Church of Heaven that he will participate in the beatification of Paul VI, to be held in Rome on October 19 precisely. Another lovely sign, because Paul VI was deeply Theresian. He was baptized on September 30, 1897, the very day of the death of Thérèse. In declaring, for the first time, two women, Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena, as Doctors of the Church, he definitively surpassed an obstacle that his Predecessors had believed insurmountable, and he reopened the way to the doctorate for little Thérèse.  But above all, in his very depths, Paul VI had lived, like Thérèse, a very painful interior night, which was for him the night of Hope.

            Dear Friends, our brother Guy thus opens his inner world, the “world of holiness” where "Thérèse is not the only one.”  He invites us all to enter with him into this very great Mystery of the Communion of Saints, into this wonderful “circle of Saints” painted by the Blessed Fra Angelico, where the saints of heaven join hands and extend their hands to us, to guide us together, as sisters and brothers, along the path of holiness that we are called to travel.  This is one of the most beautiful teachings of Vatican II!  For Guy, there were also the other saints of Carmel, especially the other two doctors, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, who are the “spiritual parents“ of little Thérèse, and also the Venerable Father Marie-Eugène of Child Jesus, founder of the Institute of Notre-Dame de Vie (Our Lady of Life).  Father Guy worked hard for the cause of his beatification, and he wrote Father Marie-Eugène’s biography.

          But in this “circle of saints,” our Thérèse always came in first; it is always she who held him by the hand (like Joan of Arc for Charles Péguy). Guy never stopped working for her, but even more living with her, loving with her, and suffering with her.

          Thérèse led Guy to Carmel.  Immediately after his novitiate, in 1968, he was called to work for the Critical Edition of her Works with a whole team, which was to culminate in the great Edition du Centenaire in 1992.

          But above all, our Brother Guy has fully lived the spirituality of Thérèse in its most interior dimension, which is also the most dramatic, in all the depth of the Passion and the Agony of Jesus. With Thérèse, he repeats to us Jesus' words heard in the Gospel: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer his Passion in order to enter into his Glory?”

          In 1972, he published his fine book, The Passion of Thérèse of Lisieux (a book that really touched me personally in those difficult years after 1968).  For Guy, this book was to have a mysterious meaning, prophetic, as the announcement of this period in which he personally relived the Passion of Thérèse in her sickness and in her interior trial.

          The period of the luminous and peaceful years of community life and of service in our Province of Paris would end in1986 with his nomination as a bishop, this “martyrdom of the Episcopate,” as he tells us in his personal notes :

I knew, in 1986, that accepting the episcopate could lead to martyrdom, and (without playing the martyr) I started to experience at Meaux a path of unexpected solitude, in complete powerlessness and in the darkest night.

I regret nothing of these three years. They were a great grace and a decisive stage in my life. Having experienced this, what worse could happen to me?

To go through this tunnel which seems interminable changes life.  One who has not lived it, what does he know?  (I mention the inestimable value of faithful friends, those in the medical profession and others).

Now I say: “Every vocation is a mission,” adding: “every mission is a passion.”

          After these three years of his passion, supported by many brothers and friends, especially by members of the Institute of Our Lady of Life that had welcomed him, Guy would know years of resurrection, of a great ecclesial fruitfulness here in Lisieux, as “Thérèse’s bishop,” which were to culminate with the Doctorate of Thérèse in 1997.  Becoming bishop emeritus in 2005, he retired to the residence of Quinsan, in Vénasque, near the community of Our Lady  of Life, and it was there that he wrote his last book, his great biography of Thérèse, published in 2010.

          After that, he found Thérèse near the Cross, in the last four years which were so painful, but always supported and accompanied by many friends. This was the last step of his way of holiness, lived with Thérèse, who said on the very day of her death:  “I do not regret having surrendered myself to love . . . Never would I have believed it was possible to suffer so much! never! never!  I cannot explain it except by the ardent desires I have had to save souls.”  Just before she died, Thérèse had fixed her gaze on Mary, the Virgin of the Smile, and, according to the beautiful expression of Father Marie-Eugène, “the light of the Virgin never shines more sweetly than in the darkness.”  She was present near our brother Guy; she is close to us right now as we prepare to celebrate her as Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16.

          Now, our brother Guy has entered into life, and he invites us to raise our eyes to the happiness of Heaven. Let us listen to his last words to us about this mysterious passage from death to eternal life:

 It will be a passage through a narrow door, a passover, a birth.

Because I see what I believe today (very badly), and it will be ineffable. Of faith in the vision. Ultimately, the unveiling of what was hidden, not the ephemeral light of the Transfiguration, but the opportunity to pitch one’s tent forever at the top of the mountain with Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, John, and a huge crowd that one cannot count ( .  .  . )

Jesus . . . it had to happen to him. Everything converges towards him: the earth and all its riches that I am leaving (unlike Bernanos, I can say that I really liked them), the great History of humanity.

Risen Jesus, Alpha and Omega, you are the “Door.”  You left this life to prepare the one which is to come, your own, that of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, the eternal Life you have promised us.

How many times have I quoted Thérèse’s words, “I am not dying, I am entering into life!” (LT 244).  Soon I will repeat this luminous phrase “for real,”  in another and more difficult way.

A friend often repeated to me, when we were talking of the inexpressible joys to come: “The best is ahead of us.”

May this departure be a blessing to all those I leave (temporarily).  This will be the best way to ask their forgiveness for my sins, voluntary or not, and to thank them for having been what they are.  (I mention no names; he has many names here).

A Dieu! Pray for me. We are all going to the eternal reunion, prepared by the merciful Love of the Trinity . . . .


English translation by Maureen O'Riordan, in thanksgiving.

I thank the homilist, Fr. François-Marie Lethel, O.C.D., and Fr. Guillaume Dehorter, O.C.D., the provincial superior of the Paris Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, for permission to translate this homily.  Their generosity reflects that of their brother.

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Reader Comments (2)

Thanks for sharing this with us, Maureen.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa Thomas

Thank you so much! How wonderful to have this. God bless!

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

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