Podcast – Live in union with God through prayer

Francis Kohn


Live in union with God through prayer

This teaching proposes to show us how prayer was essential to Pierre Goursat and the very foundation of his life.


To begin with, let us ask the question, what do we mean by Christian prayer?

The 4th part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is dedicated to Christian prayer. It is presented as God’s gift (n° 2559-2561), as covenant (n° 2562-2564), as communion (n° 2565). So how shall we define it in just a few words?

Prayer puts us in the presence of God, the living God. It is a place of exchange and communion, where we present our lives to God, listen to him, and ready ourselves to hear his call. In Christianity, differing to other religions, the aim of prayer is not opening ourselves to cosmic energies, or nature, but to God the Father, the Almighty, who is utterly ‘other’. He is transcendent, infinitely above us, but he revealed himself to mankind in history, and his desire is to reveal himself personally to each one of us. God came to us through the Incarnation of his son, Jesus, who assuming our humanity, became one of us, living amongst us as a little baby, weak and vulnerable.



Christian prayer gives us a relationship with a person, Jesus.

During every important moment of his public ministry Jesus prays to his Father, sometimes all night, as he does, for example, before calling his 12 Apostles (Lk. 6: 12-13). Or when he wakes up well before dawn to go and pray in a lonely place (Mk. 1:35), or goes up the mountain, which is the case before the Transfiguration (Lk.9:28). Just as through prayer he keeps an intimate communion with his Father, we can, if we take time to pray to Jesus, strengthen our personal relationship with him and enter into familiarity with him, and into a certain intimacy. Through our faithfulness in prayer, we show Jesus our love, our attachment, and our determination to follow him. Prayer opens up interior spaces in us. This is essential for allowing sanctifying grace to unfold and work in us and, little by little, transform us, renew us, unify us and sanctify us.


-I) Prayer was a vital priority for Pierre Goursat

When Pierre Goursat had a conversion at 19yrs old, he understood that God was calling him to the prayer of adoration. From that moment on, he took a long time of daily prayer, through which he established a profound and intimate relationship with Christ, who progressively configured to him to himself. When he took over management of the family guesthouse from 1940-50, he would go and pray at the Church of Saint-Philippe in Roule where his mother used to take him to Mass when he was a child. He would often go to two other places, where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed day and night: at the Chapel of the Fathers of the Blessed-Sacrament on rue de Friedland close to his home, and the Sacré-Cœur Basilica of Montmartre.

In the early days of the Community, Pierre chose to establish the first residential

households in two places linked to eucharistic adoration. Living here, he could ensure, together with the younger members, a presence before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, both day and night, for the religious sisters who were otherwise unable to do it themselves – in 1974, at Gentilly, the city university parish at the capital gates, and in 1975 on rue Gay-Lussac in the ‘Latin quarter’ at the heart of Paris. Throughout this period Pierre prayed for a long time every day, as he did during the following period on La Peniche, where he set up with his close companions in 1978.

At the heart of all he did (in his professional life, and in Community life) lay the urgent need to meet in solitude with his Lord. Prayer was the place where Pierre rested in God, laid himself open to God’s living presence and charged up on the oxygen indispensable to his spiritual life, as “prayer was his breath, his vitality” said a community sister. The outpouring of the Spirit would only intensify this thirst for prayer. Even with the innumerable requests which monopolised his time, he could no longer go without it.

In 1972, Pierre wrote these lines to a priest:

My need for prayer and meditation is physical, without it I suffocate and get sad. As soon as I come back to it, joy, peace, and light return […]. It is not just a time of contemplation (which is essential) I need to abide continually with Jesus” [1].

Martine Catta, who also lived on La Peniche with Pierre, wrote in her journal:

“What was striking about him, more than anything else, and which was permanently the case was how he shone interiorly both a simple joy and a fire which burned through him encompassing his whole humanity. An interior presence resided in him which clearly lived in him whatever the situation, and which he listened to continuously […]. Something of this presence always shone through and Pierre stepped aside to let it show. You could see he wanted us to take part in the mystery he was living […]”[2].

A priest from outside of the Community who met Pierre Goursat many times, also said about him that he “wasn’t centred on himself but on an Other; he carried a presence”.


-1) Prayer is not an option, but a priority of Christian life

St Paul writes: “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.” (Col. 4:2). For Pierre Goursat, personal prayer was always necessary. How did he live it and what did he say about it?

Prayer was the expression of love that Pierre had for God. And he prioritised it over everything else. In prayer, Pierre Goursat gave himself totally to God with an ardent desire to conform to his will and orientate his whole life towards the light of God. He spoke a lot about the love of God and brought his brothers closer to him. The amount of time he gave to God in prayer was the expression of his immense love for God, as can be heard in numerous testimonies from brothers and sisters who lived or worked with him and knew him well. To quote a few: “His attachment to God manifested itself through the fact that God always came first, before everything”, says one. And another explains: “What defines him is his personal attachment to Christ, no argument, as much as in his way of being as in his prayer and the expression of it […]. He often said: “You have to love Jesus!” (Il faut aimer Jésus!)”.

For Pierre, prayer was a loving meeting with Jesus. He wrote: “To pray is to love Jesus. It’s to accord a conversation with him. We could think it’s more him who accords a meeting with us. Well, it’s not at all that. He is always there, waiting for us day and night, he doesn’t get tired of waiting and it’s us who don’t receive him. Also, when we accept, think of his joy, how gladly we are received” [3].

In the busy, noisy world in which we live, it is essential to take “prayer breaks”, to stop and take a lengthy time of silent contemplation. Through personal prayer, our relationship with Christ strengthens day after day. This is why Pierre Goursat strongly urged us to make time for these long moments of prayer. He said: “What’s very important, is personal prayer. If you cannot pray for half an hour a day you are done for, you are completely done for” [4]. But how do we find time for God in schedules which are so often incredibly over-booked? When faced with this objection, Pierre replied “To pray is not to lose time but to save it!”.

He advised that each person look closely at the activities they were doing, in order to stop what was not necessary. He told the story of Saint Francis Sales who, replying to a bishop who had confided in him that he was too busy to pray for an hour a day, said: “Well, pray for two hours then!” [5]. Pierre encouraged us not to miss this important meeting for anything, and to anticipate by thinking, the night before, when in the following day the best moment would be to pray, and to write it down in our diary.

If prayer is a source of grace, it can also be a combat: firstly, in staying faithful to daily prayer times, but equally in staying awake when we are tired and in keeping our spirit focussed on the Lord for the hour we consecrate to him. There’s a risk of becoming discouraged when we encounter spiritual “dryness” or when distractions besiege us. Pierre explained that it was sometimes hard for him to remain in union with Jesus, so, when he was in front of the Blessed Sacrament, he would lean on those with whom he was praying.

Pierre shared that sometimes it happened he would fall asleep whilst meditating and said laughingly he was like “a snoring log” [6] crackling in the fireplace.

To quote him:

When we are feeling a bit stupefied, when we are feeling dry, it’s a good thing to sit at the Lord’s feet and tell him; “I am a great log, put me on a little fire, I’m cooing softly and falling asleep”. When I was snoring, someone else [the brother praying next to me] said: “Watch it, you’re falling asleep!”. But it’s simple really. I told myself: “I am adoring, I am there to be there, and that’s all”. Even so, it really is restful. Because when we’re alone in our bedroom, well we get agitated, and say: “What am I doing here?”” [7].


-2) Pray without ceasing, in all circumstances, to live in union with God

St Paul writes: “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.” (Eph. 6 :18) and again, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Thes. 5:16-18). Taking into account these exhortations, Pierre said: “We must pray then, pray without ceasing, you know this well”, and out of great common sense, he added: “The whole thing lies in actually doing it[8].

According to Pierre Goursat, living in community is a grace given to support and encourage us in a life of prayer; we must take advantage of every occasion to pray together and thus enable the love of the Lord to grow stronger in us. To give an example. In the summer of 1979, Pierre Goursat organised a retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus in the Holy Land during which an incident made an impression on the pilgrims. After we had spent a long time praying at the wells of Jacob in Sichem, the Orthodox priest and guardian of the site asked us to leave. We had just got back to the cars when Pierre stopped us and started urging us vigorously by saying: “Do you understand where you are? This is the meeting of the Samaritan woman, this is a meeting with the Lord, the Holy Spirit! You’re missing something essential here! Go back and pray!”. We can see how, for Pierre, prayer took priority over everything else.

Pierre often meditated on chapter 15 of St Jean’s Gospel, where Jesus says to his disciples: “Abide in me as I abide in you… Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:4-5). He would comment on these Bible verses in his teachings, cofirming that, “The secret is to abide in his love. He asks us to ‘abide’. It’s an order, it’s advice. That is what’s essential! [9]. He insisted on this point, saying “The goal, what’s important, is union with God [10].

It was moving to see how he was focussed on living in union with God, in all circumstances. Pierre explained: “The objective is to be in continuous prayer, but without straining ourselves. Lovers go to work, but they think about each other all the time, constantly. Well, we’re in love with Jesus. And little by little we end up thinking about him all the time. So then, wherever we are, we can pray our rosary, we can praise. And it’s a continual joy [11].

Pierre warned us of the ever-lurking danger of activism, within the Community in particular, where we are called to serve our brothers and sisters, to evangelise, and to exercise charity for the helpless. For him, prayer was the remedy, the antidote to the temptation of activism. All that we do, even out of generosity, cannot bear fruit if we do not have a deep relationship with Jesus: “What is essential, Pierre said, is the Lord, is the interior life, is adoration, is prayer. If we don’t live in prayer, in adoration […], everything else is useless” [12]. He added: “I really like the ‘apart from me you can do nothing’, because it’s magnificent, it’s radical, [without Jesus] we can do nothing. So, we don’t need to worry, he said we can do nothing! So, we must ask everything from the Lord” [13].

For Pierre Goursat, prayer was not a formal, rigid attitude. It consisted instead of simply resting in God’s gaze, in silence, united to Christ, whether that was lying on his bed looking at the crucifix resting on his chest or kneeling in front of the tabernacle in the chapel. What was important was to contemplate Jesus in all circumstances, to recognise his presence in the exposed Blessed Sacrament, as in each person who came to him for advice. What counted above all was to live in union with God, which is the aim of Christian life.


-II) Prayer can take different forms

The principal forms of prayer are Praise, Contemplation, Eucharistic Adoration, Intercession, Petition, the Rosary, and meditating on the Word of God. Pierre used these principal ways of praying and now I would like to lay out what characterised Pierre as a prayerful person, as someone who adored God.


-1) Pierre’s life was steeped in Eucharistic mystery.

-a) Daily Mass was vital to Pierre Goursat, and an essential resource.

He attended Mass daily for as long as he was able. He participated in each Mass intensely and out of him shone the divine presence which inhabited him. Mass was his “Viaticum”, his food for the journey, he couldn’t go without it. A Community sister who knew him very well said: “It was a concrete way of being united to Christ”. Pierre had a profound belief in the presence of Christ in the Mass, and he passed that onto us.

Anyone who went to Mass with Pierre Goursat was touched by his attitude of reverence and contemplation. Two women from the Community, who looked after him towards the end of his life, can testify how intensely he lived it, “entirely focused on the Eucharistic mystery”, and “he was wholly in the celebration, no pretentions, the body followed the heart.” As his life neared the end, he was very tired and found it hard even to walk, even so he would make a great effort to genuflect in front of the tabernacle, bowing his head slowly and with great respect before the Blessed Sacrament, in a profoundly humble attitude which made manifest both the radical self-gift of his whole person and his love for the Eucharistic presence.

-b) Eucharistic adoration is the extension of the Holy Mass

Pierre Goursat prayed a lot: in his bedroom in the morning. And again, in the late afternoon and in the evening after supper when he would go down to the bowels of the ship’s stern in the little oratory aboard La Peniche. There he would meditate for hours until late into the night. Sometimes staying in adoration for the whole night. During this time of Eucharistic adoration Pierre would refine his intuitions, draw strength, and find rest and joy in abiding in the Lord’s presence. He used to say:

“We truly find joy in Eucharistic adoration [14].

Pierre “defined himself as someone who adored”, he was “a kneeling adorer”. And when we saw him praying like this, we felt pulled to do the same. He communicated through his example.

From time-to-time Pierre stayed for a few days with families from the Community, in Paris or elsewhere in France. One couple, who had been given permission from the bishop to keep the True Presence in their house, were extremely touched seeing Pierre spend long hours before the tabernacle, and said, “to see him pray was deeply moving”, that it helped them to go deeper in their own prayer and even their children, who were little at the time, were also very moved.

Just by praying with Pierre and seeing how he became absorbed in a heart-to-heart, numerous brothers and sisters from the Community said they came to understand what prayer was:

 “In adoration, said Pierre, the Lord speaks to us, heart-to-heart, and teaches us gently, like he did with Mary [from Bethany]. She chose the better part. The Lord makes us choose the better part” [15].

Through knowing Pierre, we discover what contemplation is, and the importance of making time for personal prayer every day, which enables us to have a strong and intimate relationship and friendship with Christ, and so better understand the words of Christ, here from St. John’s Gospel:

    “I do not call you servants any longer, I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” (Jn 15:15).

Pierre wanted Mass and Eucharistic adoration to be the foundation of the spiritual life for members of the Emmanuel Community. He asked us to do it every day, when possible. By ensuring adoration of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, day and night, at the heart of every gathering of the Charismatic Renewal, as well as at Paray-le-Monial, Pierre Goursat became one of the principal actors in renewing the Eucharistic cult in France in the 1970s, a period in history when it had been widely abandonedly. This is confirmed by Mgr de Monléon: “I believe that if adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has restarted in France, it’s thanks to Pierre. It was Pierre who introduced it into the Renewal because the only places you could still find a little adoration [in Paris] were Montmartre and la rue Gay-Lussac” [16].


-2) The importance of Praise, fortifier of faith and hope

I touched on the prayer of Praise in my previous teaching on humility. Here I will expand on the subject. Pierre was inhabited by the prayer of Praise, and he encouraged and inspired his community brothers and sisters to give praise to God also. Above all, Praise is prayer of thanksgiving, a gift, but it can also take the form of intercession, opening our hearts to God’s mercy. To praise God is to make manifest his lordship, his presence active in our lives. Pierre would encourage us to praise God, powerfully, to intercede for the whole world and those who are suffering. Pierre highlighted the point that Praise is the expression of hope. As we pray, we praise God for what has not yet been realised. He encouraged those closest to him to entrust themselves to God in Praise, saying: “Praise makes hope grow.

St Paul urges us in this way: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Pierre Goursat explains the importance and the benefits of the prayer of Praise:

To praise, when we sing with joy or when we are suffering, teaches us little by little to praise continuously… It’s the certain antidote to evil, especially in this current period of despair” [17]. He further confirms this: “We really can say, as Saint Paul does: ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me’ (cf. Rm. 8:35,37; Phil. 4:13) […]. Jesus is among us, and Jesus never stops saving us. We are full of joy because we already know that we have in fact resurrected with him, we are saved in Spirit and in Truth and the Lord is here, out of love. It’s a story about love” [18].

Pierre Goursat was orientated towards Heaven and the eternal life. A man who knew Pierre well, said: he was “visionary, he kept both Heaven and Earth fixed in his sights, and nothing seemed impossible to him”. The deep joy that resided in Pierre’s heart came from this heavenly contemplation, as “according to him, eternal life was a joy”. What mattered to him was “to open the gates of eternal life to others” by helping them see the presence of the resurrected Christ in their lives, achieved by the grace of Pentecost. He put his hope in eternal life, which he saw as “the fullness of Praise”.

Pierre Goursat was forever calling us to hope, he would say: “God is good, we can trust in him”. He was convinced “we achieve everything through prayer”. When someone came across difficulties, or was discouraged, he advised them to pray and entrust themselves to the Lord, because “for him there is no lost cause, God cannot abandon us”. Pierre was animated by his hope in a God who looks after his children, and he transmitted it to everyone around him.

When contradictions and contrarieties arrived, Pierre continued praising the Lord, he would not get discouraged. He told a story from the life of Mary of the Incarnation to a community brother he was close to: The school she had built in Quebec caught fire and Pierre explained how, whilst she was saving people from the burning building, and out in the snowy cold she was in a state of extasy, in total union with God. “For Pierre, faith was expressed through Praise in hard things just as in easy things, in good times and the bad […]. By praising he gave us hope, because whether things were going well or going badly, he made us praise. When we were feeling down, he told us to take up Praise, so that hope be reborn”.

Pierre invited those who were finding it hard to pray, to get together with other brothers and sisters or, if they were too far away, to praise with them over the telephone. He said:

You must believe in the extraordinary power of prayer. And really pray together in faith. Because it is through faith that the world is transformed. And when a community prays together like you were praying earlier, it creates an atmosphere of prayer and love. We are here, we say: ‘Lord we are giving half an hour to be all together, with you, because we believe that you are the God of glory, the God of love. And we want to give you this homage as the world doesn’t pray and the world is in complete darkness. And so, we pray’. Well, this really is an immense force […][19].


-3) The prayer of Intercession or Petition

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.” (n° 2634)

If Christ is “the one intercessor”, it is through giving himself for us on the cross, once and for all (cf. Heb. 7:27). The Letter to the Hebrews explains that Christ is the high priest, the ultimate priest “able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25).

Jesus assures us: “So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mk. 11:24). This doesn’t mean we should spend our prayer times inundating Jesus with supplications! He knows what we need, what the world needs! He wants us to participate in his work of salvation by making us intercessors. Through the prayer of Intercession, we stop being centred on ourselves, and instead entrust all those who suffer and are in need, to the Mercy of God. Every Mass on Sunday we pray prayers of Intercession. And as we are often a bit helpless, we are given the Holy Spirit, the “Paraclete”, which means “Advocate”. He defends our cause, that of us all, before the Father. St Paul writes:

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26-27).


-4) The prayer of trust expressed through a total abandonment to divine Providence

Pierre had a boundless trust in God which was shown by the way he placed himself in the hands of God, with complete abandonment to his divine Providence. He always seemed to have a serenity about him, freed from anxiety, even in difficult situations, whether that be spiritual, practical, or financial, mainly because he lived in the moment, and wouldn’t worry about tomorrow. Pierre lived by Jesus’ words in a very concrete way:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Mt. 6:25-26). There are many examples that could illustrate his abandonment to Providence. Amongst so many others, here are just a few:

Pierre Goursat had acquired an old canal boat; his idea was to restore it and use it for those living on the margins of society, but he couldn’t afford the renovations. He prayed and asked to the Lord to provide. Thanks to several clearly providential contributions, the construction materials were donated to him directly by different enterprises, which allowed him to carry out the work.

In 1974, for the first ever meeting of the Charismatic Renewal in Vézelay, we didn’t have anywhere to sleep or any way of feeding the hundreds of participants expected to come, but “Pierre had unshakable hope”. He went and encouraged the community brother in charge of the organisation of it all, saying: “Do not be worried, it will all happen”. And just as he said, everything they needed was found in a matter of weeks, according to divine Providence.

In 1976 Pierre Goursat asked Our Lady for a house at Lourdes for the Community, and in a matter of days his prayer was answered.

I will speak about the intimate bond Pierre had with Mary another time. I just want to mention here that he put great importance on the prayer of the Rosary. Pierre always had a rosary with him. He would pray it intensely and with great emotion, something which struck us all. Teachings and meetings with him always started and finished by praying a Hail Mary.


-5) Meditating on the Word of God

At the start of every morning, Pierre took time to read the Bible in his bedroom. He had a profound understanding, intelligence, and savouring knowledge of the Word of God. Someone who used to come to the Emmanuel prayer groups in the 1970s said: “Pierre was imbibed with the Word of God, he would read it, and it was his light to illuminate the way”.

Until the end of his days, Pierre Goursat always had a bible with him and when he went out, he took a little “pocket bible”. A community sister who worked at his side on La Peniche noticed: “The Word of God was extremely important to him […]. He lived in the Word; it wasn’t just consumerism”. Spiritual discussions with him were marked with the Word of God, which he quoted from memory and which moulded and formed him. He was always making references to it and encouraging us to read it, meditate upon it and put it into practice. Pierre communicated to us this love of Scripture. Pierre Goursat underlined the importance of nourishing ourselves with prayer, spiritual reading, and scriptural meditation. He wrote: “One day, all the Words of God I’d heard a hundred times, suddenly had an overwhelming effect on me. The words of Jesus are the words of life” [20].

Thus, Pierre invited us to take it seriously when God speaks to us (in our personal life as well as community life), to reread verses of Scripture in order to understand their meaning. The prayer group of ‘l’Assomption’, founded in 1973 in Paris had been running for years and it attracted a lot of people. It suddenly diminished, taking just a few weeks, and Pierre decided to close it. He later explained, the Lord had given numerous words about evangelisation but the prayer group leaders and participants had not taken them seriously.

In 1977, Pierre Goursat asked a member of the Community, Florence Servois, to go to the United States to attend a retreat with a Catholic Charismatic community. Each day, the participants of the retreat shared with everyone about the Word of God they had received personally. It was the first time Florence had come across this practice and she was deeply touched by it. Back in Paris, she told Pierre about what she had seen, who in turn was deeply struck by it. The following day he said to her: “Now we’ll do the same”.

Then and there, Pierre instituted a daily sharing together on the Word of God for those who worked on La Peniche. It was then introduced into household meetings within the Community. Pierre invited everyone to keep a ‘Word of God journal’ to note down verses of Scripture they were moved by during prayer.

He explained: “When we share about a Word which touches us, which inhabits us, we don’t need make a sermon about it. We should show how it’s converted us, how exactly it turns our heart towards the Lord”.


Pierre meditated on, “chewed over’ verses of Scripture, praying with the same one for weeks on end. I lived with Pierre for several years. He was touched by this verse from Isaiah: “Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel!” (Is. 41:14), and for some weeks his sharing in household was the same thing: “I am a poor worm and I rejoice in it!”. Near the end of his life, he always shared the same Word, which was: “God is love”.


The life of Pierre Goursat nears its end: a retreat into prayer and silence

I will now share a few words about the life of Pierre Goursat as it draws into its final stage, which marked an important step for him because after resigning from his position as Moderator of the Community in December 1985, he buried himself in prayer, like never before. Pierre continued to live on La Peniche amongst all its activities and carried them all in his prayers. And so, a new and final stage in his life presented itself. In these final years, he retreated into prayer and silence, preparing to meet God. “He sank deep into prayer; he walked a true spiritual path”. A community brother from the early days, said: “After Pierre had let go of responsibility of the Community, he spent more and more time in adoration […]. I think he retreated into the contemplative silence of Saint John. He seemed pacified; he didn’t speak much anymore […]”.

From that moment onwards, Pierre’s health progressively worsened. He prayed more and more and spent much time in adoration in the oratory aboard La Peniche.

I would like to share this little anecdote with you. In 1989 Pierre broke his hip at Paray-le-Monial, and there was a young community brother who was a surgeon at Tours, so Pierre was sent to Tours to be operated on by him. He did the operation, it went well, Pierre was recovering slowly, and this community brother had lots of patients to see and every day he came to say hello to Pierre in the morning to see how he was doing. And one day he was really touched by something Pierre said to him. Pierre asked: “What are you doing today?” Etienne answered: “Well, I’m going to my appointment” and Pierre replied: “No, you’re going to our appointment”. Etienne understood then that Pierre carried all his patients in his prayer. Even though he was very tired and weak, he abided in charity, and he knew the Lord would hear his prayers.

In 1990, when he was unable to get down to the Chapel anymore, he was given authorisation to have the True Presence in a little tabernacle in his bedroom. The community sister who was looking after him in La Peniche was struck by the peacefulness of Pierre who, despite his ever-worsening state of health, never complained. She said: “He was always in prayer […] You could tell he was intimately close to the Lord”.


Conclusion: prayer was the source of Pierre Goursat’s missionary fervour

I have shown you how personal prayer was fundamental, vital to Pierre Goursat, the object of which was union with God. The long times of prayer taken by Pierre Goursat every day are the key to understanding his great spiritual and missionary fruitfulness, even though he suffered with illness in childhood and had fragile health his whole life. Pierre drew physical strength and apostolic zeal from prayer, and eucharistic Adoration in particular.

As many members of the Community can testify, according to Pierre “mission is inseparable to your relationship with Christ”, “the interior life takes precedence over apostolic life [and] his apostleship was born out of his contemplation of Christ”.

Pierre Goursat was very moved when he read Les Récits d’un Pèlerin Russe, a pearl of Orthodox spirituality which talks about the “prayer of the heart”. He explains: “The prayer of the heart is truly this fire, this fire of love which burns. It’s a fire which is given, so good that we manage to pray without difficulty, without holding back[21]. In the teachings that follow we will go more deeply into how this fervent fire of Charity which burned in the heart of Pierre was the origin of his compassion and his zeal for the salvation of souls.



[1] Letter to a priest project, 1972.

[2] Martine Catta, Pierre Goursat. Paroles, Paris, Éditions de l’Emmanuel, 2011, 87.

[3] Preparatory notes for a teaching, late 1971.

[4] Community weekend with the first consecrations of members into the Community, 19 June 1977.

[5] Cf. Retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus, Paray-le-Monial, 30 December 1977.

[6] Community weekend, 21 June 1981.

[7] Community weekend at Chevilly-Larue, 19 June 1977.

[8] Session at Paray-le-Monial, 23 July 1975.

[9] Teaching at Paray-le-Monial during a retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus, August 1978.

[10] Teaching during a session at Paray-le-Monial, July 1977.

[11] Saturday 18th June 1977, teaching before the first consecrations in the Community.

[12] Teaching at Paray-le-Monial during a retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus, 3rd August 1979.

[13] Teaching at Paray-le-Monial during a retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus, 31st December 1979.

[14] Teaching at Paray-le-Monial during a retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus, early August 1979.

[15] Retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus at Paray-le-Monial, 30th December 1982.

[16] Testimony given by Mgr Albert-Marie de Monléon, 31st January 1993.

[17] Teaching by Pierre Goursat, 1976.

[18] Teaching by Pierre Goursat, late December 1980.

[19] Community weekend, 21st June 1981.

[20] Preparatory notes for a teaching, late 1971.

[21] Teaching at Paray-le-Monial during a retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus, August 1978.