(dedicado en este Viernes Santo a Jacobo San Miguel que en paz descanse)
La conversión de judíos al cristianismo es un fenómeno relativamente raro en la Iglesia postconciliar, pero no lo fue así en tiempos pretéritos. Muchos católicos insignes procedían de familias judías conversas, como Santa Teresa de Jesús, San Juan de la Cruz o Fray Luis de León. Otros, como Israel Zolli, los hermanos Lehmann, el contemplativo Charlie Rich, Torquemada o Santa Edith Stein eran judíos conversos. Por no mencionar toda la Iglesia Apostólica y todos y cada uno de los miembros de la Sagrada Familia. La conversión de Alfonso de Ratisbona y su posterior ingreso en el Monacato marca un hito importante que, como el Hermano Bruno de Jesús indica al final del texto que aquí extractamos, será la única manera posible de pacificación de Tierra Santa en un futuro, quién sabe, no muy lejano.
Hace muchos meses Jacobo San Miguel, fallecido lector nuestro de origen judío, me comentó que él pasaba el Viernes Santo en oración prácticamente permanente por la conversión de los judíos al Catolicismo. Porque, como dicen las Sagradas Escrituras, “la salvación del mundo viene por los judíos”. A Casa de Sarto rinde homenaje a todos aquellos quienes hicieron cuanto pudieron para que los judíos llegasen a la plenitud de Cristo mediante su conversión al Catolicismo. Jesucristo, nacido de María Virgen de la estirpe del Santo Rey David, Palabra del Padre, Alfa y Omega, encarnado en la sangre de la raza elegida, es ya adorado por muchos judíos, como se puede ver aquí o en este otro sitio, por ejemplo. Vaya este homenaje por nuestro amigo Jacobo, también él judío converso, que seguro sigue rezando por la conversión de los judíos, como hace la Iglesia Católica en Viernes Santo. Frente a los campeadores del odio, el rechazo y la división, tácticas típicamente satánicas, opongamos la unidad en el Amor a Dios y a Cristo, y por tanto al prójimo. Esta conversión de judíos y musulmanes al Catolicismo logrará sacar al turbulento Medio Oriente de la situación de guerra permanente que allá se vive.
Alfonso de Ratisbona, entre otros muchos, es un digno predecesor del feliz momento en que no haya más que un solo rebaño, un solo Pastor y una sola Fe. ¡Ojalá fuera dado a nuestros mortales ojos el ver tan sublime momento en la historia! Entretanto, recemos.
Born into a wealthy Israelite family, Alphonsus Ratisbonne, still very young, was very disturbed by the conversion of his brother Theodore and by his having received holy Orders: «This behaviour appalled me, and I took an immense dislike to his habit and his character.»
While Theodore, curate of the Abbé des Genettes at Our Lady of Victories, referred to himself as «the Queen’s chaplain» and prayed for the conversion of the Jews, his brother Alphonsus, after brilliant studies in Law at Paris, lead a busy social life of pleasure and parties. «I was Jewish in name only. I never opened a religious book, and in the house of my uncle not even the slightest prescription of Judaism was practiced, any more than in that of my brothers and sisters.»
Today, in Israel, Alphonsus would have become a member of the new “secular” party of Tommy Lapid, the Shinoui [“change”], whose primary objective is to fight the influence of the rabbis in the State, and whose electoral breakthrough indicates the disenchantment of Jews towards the ultra-orthodox parties.
Engaged to a sixteen year old niece, he took part in a pleasure trip in Italy at the end of 1841, before getting married. It is a essential to read, in Sister Marie-Angelique of the Cross’ beautiful book on The Abbé des Genettes, Mary’s Servant and Apostle (in French only), all the adventures and encounters arranged by Good Providence to lead the young godless person to the knees of Mary.
He accepted –not without resistance!– to wear the Miraculous Medal and to recite the Memorare, out of defiance rather than conviction: «The medal was placed around my neck and I exclaimed in a burst of laughter: “Ha! Ha! Now I am a Catholic, Apostolic and Roman!” It was the demon that was prophesying through my mouth», he was to say later on.
Days went by and Alphonsus thought about his return to France but, under a mysterious influence, he felt the need of extending his stay in Rome… However, in the middle of the night of 19th to the 20th of January 1842, he woke up with a start:
«I saw, immobile before me, a large black cross of an unusual shape and without Christ. I tried to drive away this image: but I could not evade it and I always found it before me, in whatever direction I turned. I am unable to say how long this struggle lasted.»
He then related, hour by hour, his different occupations and visits of the day of 20 January. Around noon…
«When leaving the café, I encountered the carriage of Mr. Theodore de Bussières. It stopped and I was invited to take place in it to go for a ride. The weather was magnificent and I accepted with pleasure. But Mr. de Bussières asked my permission to stop a few moments at Sant’Andrea delle Fratte church which was not far from where we were, for an errand that he had to do. He suggested that I wait in the carriage; I preferred to get out to see this church.
«Saint Andrew’s church was small, poor and empty; I believe that I was more or less alone. No object of art attracted my attention; I unconsciously looked around myself without dwelling on any particular thought; I only remember that a black dog jumped and leaped in front of me… Soon this dog disappeared, the entire church disappeared; I no longer saw anything, or rather, oh my God, I saw but one thing!!! How is it possible to speak of it? Oh! no, human words must not attempt to express what is beyond words; any description, however sublime it may be, would only be a profanation of the ineffable truth.
«I was there, bowed down, bathed in my tears, my heart pounding, when Mr. de Bussières called me back to life. I was unable to reply to his hurried questions; but finally I seized the medal that I had left on my chest; I covered with kisses the image of the Virgin radiant with graces… Oh! It was truly Her! \»
That very day, Alphonsus Ratisbonne was taken to Father de Villefort, at the Gesù, to explain his emotion; he pulled out his medal and, kissing it, he exclaimed: «I saw Her, I saw Her!» Then, when he had regained his calm: «I was in the church for a moment, when suddenly I felt myself seized by an indescribable turmoil I raised my eyes, the entire building was as though veiled to my eyes; a single chapel had, so to say, concentrated all the light and, in the midst of this brilliant light, appeared, standing radiant on the altar, full of majesty and sweetness, the Virgin Mary, just as She is on my medal; an irresistible force drove me towards Her. With a gesture of Her hand, the Virgin beckoned me to kneel. She seemed to say to me: Good! She did not speak but I understood everything.
«I did not know where I was; I did not know whether I was Alphonsus or someone else; I experienced such a total change, that I felt as though I was a new man. I attempted to recover my old self but I was unable. The most ardent joy burst into the depth of my soul.
«My first words were word of gratitude towards Mr. de Laferronnays and for the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Victories. I knew, with certainty that Mr. de Laferronnays had prayed for me.
«I was asked how I had learned these truths, since it was known that I had never opened a religious book, never read a single page of the Bible, and that the dogma of original sin, completely forgotten or denied by the Jews of our times, had never occupied my thought for an instant; I doubt that I even knew the term. How then did I arrive at this knowledge? I am unable to explain how. All that I know is that on entering the church I was ignorant of everything, and on leaving, I understood.
«All that I can say is that at the moment of the gesture, the blindfold fell from my eyes; not a single blindfold, but all the multitude of blindfolds that had enveloped me, disappeared successively and rapidly like snow and mud and ice due to the effect of a burning sun.
«I came out of a tomb, of an abyss of darkness, and I was alive, truly alive… But I wept! I saw in the bottom of the abyss, the extreme misery from which I had been drawn by an infinite mercy.»
But tears of pity immediately mingled themselves with his tears of gratitude, at the thought of his friends, of his people, of his fiancée, of his family. «I thought of you, oh you whom I love! I gave my first prayers to you…»
These great and wonderful texts allow us to catch sight of what the return to the fold of the entire Jewish people will be like, according to the assurance given by Saint Paul to the Romans:
«And this is how all Israel will be saved. As scripture says: “From Zion will come the Redeemer, he will remove godlessness from Jacob”.» (Rm 11.26)
One hundred years later, in 1944, the Chief Rabbi of Rome Eugenio Zolli would renew this testimony, indicating the path of salvation to the Jews of the whole world, as the “Master of Justice”, head and founder of the Essenians, had done twenty centuries earlier, even before Saint John the Baptist, in opposition to the corrupt Sadducees and the heretical Pharisees. And it is precisely in our times of apostasy that Divine Providence has permitted the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls. Their contents reveal and explain to us the passage of the better part of the Jewish people to Christianity after Pentecost. The divine plan recalled by Saint Paul has not changed. The conversion of the Jewish people is not far off.
There is no other solution to the conflict which cruelly bathes the Holy Land in blood. It goes without saying that we must implore the same intervention of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the conversion of the Muslims. And not only in Palestine: in the Ivory Coast also, because She is Queen, and Christ wants to reign through Her, over all the peoples of the earth.
brother Bruno of Jesus