PART 1 of A “VIRTUAL RETREAT” WITH FR. MICHEL RODRIGUE
Fr. Michel Rodrigue ‘s life story:
Fr. Michel’s Personal Story:
Michel is the twenty-third child of twenty-three children. When he was three years old, God began to speak to him, and they would have regular conversations with the simple words of a three-year-old’s understanding. Michel remembers sitting under a large tree on his family’s farmland behind his home and asking God, “Who made this tree?”
“I did,” God answered. When God pronounced the word, “I,” Michel was suddenly given a vast view of the Earth, the universe, and himself, and he understood that everything was made and held in existence by God. Like the child, Francesco Forgione, who grew to become St. Padre Pio, Michel thought that everyone had such audible conversations with the Father. From age three to six, God instructed him in the Catholic faith and gave him a thorough theological education. God also told him, when he was three, he would be a priest.
Around the age of six, Michel first encountered sin and the devil. His eyes were suddenly able to see the devil acting in a certain person, influencing his thinking, his manner, and movements. Little Michel could visibly see that this person had a cold heart blocked from love, and he and witnessed the devil moving the person’s arms and legs and face. Astonished, Michel asked God, “What is this?”
God the Father answered, “It is the devil who acts in a person when they are in sin.”
“What is a sin?”
“People sin every time that they do something against Me, against your brothers and sisters, against My will, and against the teachings that I give you.”
Fr. Michel remembers encountering his own sin consciously for the first time. With fifty-five nephews, he was an uncle before he was born. In 2004, he counted how many grandnephews he had, and came to the total of 250, so he stopped counting. One day when Michel was playing with his little nephew Claude, Michel’s dad, named Émile, picked up Claude, stood him up on his lap, and made him dance and giggle. Michel growled with jealousy.
When his father finally set Claude down, Michel said to Claude enticingly, “Come outside and play with me.” Electric wires lined the fence to keep his family farm pigs from escaping. Michel starting pushing Claude randomly into the wire.
Hearing Claude’s intermittent yelps, Michel’s mother looked outside and yelled, “Michel! What are you doing?”
“Playing!” he yelled back. “That was my second sin,” recounts Fr. Michel. “I lied.” His mom brought him inside and for his punishment, made him kneel down facing the wall.
“Why did you do that, Michel?” she asked.
“Because Claude was on my father’s leg, and he made him dance, and I wanted to be in his place.”
“Michel, you don’t understand. Your father loves you. You are his son. And he also loves your nephew.” Michel began to bawl. Upon hearing that his father also loved another child besides him, he felt like he’d been slapped. It was the first time he understood that love wasn’t just for him. Love was for everyone. “I was too young to go to Confession,” Fr. Michel says, “so I had to wait. I felt guilty before the Father, but He was so great. He continued to talk to me.”
When Michel was four or five years old, he had a BIG truck—a block of wood with four wheels made of jar lids—and he was quite proud of it. One day, as he played with his truck in front of his family home, while making accompanying truck engine noises, he heard God the Father say, “Michel.”
“Yes,” he answered, still absorbed in his play.
“One day you will travel.”
“Travel? What does travel mean?”
“You will go to other places.”
“Without my mom?”
“Oh,” and he went back to making truck noises. The message made him wonder, but it didn’t disturb him much. The Father’s words recently came to life, for from 2017 to 2019, Fr. Michel has traveled in Canada and the United States giving talks and retreats—without his mom.
When Michel was six, he heard his name called again when he was playing outside: “Michel! Michel!” But he didn’t recognize the voice as coming from God this time. He looked around, but no one was there. His sisters were not at home, and his other siblings were working in the field, so he went inside the house. “Mom, you called me?”
“Somebody called me.”
“No, no. Go play outside.”
So he did. Then he heard his name again, “Michel! Michel!”
The voice seemed so close, but at the same time, so far from him. He went inside again.
“Mom, did you call me? I heard a voice, Mom.”
“No, no, no. Go and play.”
As he was playing outside, the voice called Michel’s name for a third time. When he entered the house again, his mother said, “The next time you hear the voice, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”
That Sunday, Michel’s entire family went to Mass, not all at the same time and not in a car. They traveled the eight miles on horseback, and he rode the bumpy rear. The first reading was from 1 Samuel, Chapter 3:
Again the Lord called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am,” he said. “You called me.” But he answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
When the Lord called in the reading for the third time, Michel heard the famous sentence of the prophet: “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” The words of Eli were the words of his mother. The Scripture continued: “Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to go unfulfilled.” (1 Samuel 3: 19) Michel sat in the pew stunned.
For a short period in Michel’s sixth year, the Lord ceased to speak to him through locutions, inviting him to hear His voice through the Word. When God the Father resumed the locutions, His voice sounded different to Michel from the one he had heard since age three. That year, he was also introduced to a new dimension of reality.
One day, Michel ran to his mother, terrified. “Mom, I saw this ugly thing!” A beast around fifteen feet high had appeared on his family’s property. It was Satan, himself.
“Don’t worry,” his mother told him. “We will pray the Rosary together. With the recitation of the Rosary, Michel witnessed the prayers throw Satan back into hell.
“My parents were saintly,” Fr. Michel recounts. “My mother was very strong, motherly, nurturing, and loving. My father was always a joker.” In his last years, Émile suffered so much that he struggled to breathe; yet Michel never saw his father revolt or complain against God because of his illness.
Each year, Émile’s lungs gasped for more oxygen, and at that time, no oxygen machines were available. In wintertime, the family chose to keep the windows and doors open because cold air is more oxygenated. Every member of Michel’s family of twenty-three was willing to freeze so that Émile could feel better. At night, Michel would stare at icicles hanging from his ceiling.
Young Michel asked God the Father one day, “Why does my dad have this sickness?”
God responded, “Do you remember when I talked to you about original sin and how it causes sickness in the body? This is a consequence of original sin.”
“But why the cancer?”
“Weaknesses in his body made him susceptible to cancer. But it is not his fault.”
During a massive storm with five feet of snowfall, Émile seemed close to death, and the roads were blocked. Michel’s mother told his brother, Gaitán, to go and get a priest. Gaitán dashed off on a snowmobile and returned with a priest clinging to his waist, wearing a big helmet. The priest entered Émile’s room, gave him the last rites, prayed with him, returned to see Michel’s mom, and started to laugh.
“Why are you laughing? she asked.
“Oh, he’s not going to die.”
“Because he’s telling jokes.” Michel’s father lived another two years.
Through this incident, God the Father deepened Michel’s understanding of the power of the sacraments.
The older Michel grew, the more he had to face the evil one because, as it turned out, his family’s house was haunted. Little Michel knew the devil was after him every time the devil shook and rattled their home, or made scary noises that sent shivers across his skin. His father also saw Satan in their home, as did his sisters and brothers, so they said to their parish priest, “You must bless our home because the devil is there.” When the priest came and opened their front door, before he uttered a prayer, Satan unleashed a terrifying roar, and the priest ran away! So they called the bishop, and as soon as he opened their front door, the devil bellowed again. The bishop yelped, “I can’t do it! I can’t do it!” and quit before trying.
The Rodrigue family had a lake on their property, and one day at sunset, when Michel was about seven years old, his mom said to him, “Go and feed the ducks.”
“Mom!” he trembled. “Are you sure you want me to do that?”
“Yes, you can do it.”
“Mom, it’s almost night, and that thing is going to get me!”
“Don’t worry,” she said. Michel’s brother, Gervais, seeing that he was terrified, offered to accompany him. As they approached the lake, all of a sudden, the ground opened underneath Michel, and two four-foot, animal-like hands with long nails surged up from the underworld, grabbed his leg, and began pulling him forcefully underground. Gervais grabbed Michel’s hands and tried to pull him out, but the beast was stronger. “I’m finished!” thought Michel. Remembering the Virgin Mary, he screamed, “Mary, Mother of God, please, please help me!” A strong force suddenly yanked him out of the hole, and he ran back to the house.
“Never ask us again, Mom!” they yelled.
“We will pray the Rosary.”
Michel’s mom was a woman of profound piety who trusted in prayer and had experienced many miracles in her life. Shortly after Michel was born, Émile was in a terrible accident. She prayed to St. Anne, the grandmother of the Lord, and Michel’s two brothers who had died at three and six months old, appeared to her in a halo of light. “Don’t worry, Mom,” they said to her. “Dad will arrive at your home tomorrow, and he will be with you until the baby (Michel) is ten years old.” Their words came true. Michel’s father came back the next day, lived another ten years, and died from cancer in Michel’s arms when Michel was ten years old.
Just after Émile died, the entire family had a meeting. They had to face the reality that they needed to take action regarding the devil in their midst. He had been their unwelcome guest long enough. Powerless to cast him out, they decided to burn their home. Because Satan’s activity seemed directed against little Michel, he announced to the family, “I’ll be the one to light the fire.”
Michel’s family made six holes in the flooring of their large home, which held all twenty-three children and Michel’s mom. He poured gasoline into all the holes, lit a match, and threw it. A fire erupted followed by a big wind, which blew out the flames. He lit a second match, threw it, and the same thing happened. Before his third try, he prayed to the Mother of God that the house would burn. This time, the fire raged, and Michel had to run through the flames to reach the main door, which was flanked on each side by two large windows. The two windows had blown out, and as he ran out the front door, two hands of fire reached outside through where the windows had been in order to seize him. Michel’s mother, just outside the front doors, prayed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the hands withdrew back into their burning home.
Fr. Michel says of this event, “This was one of the best decisions we made together as a family because we had to start life again in another village, in a new home. But the devil found another way to stay with me. I began suffering from terrible pain underneath my skin, and when Mom took me to see a doctor, he said, ‘I have never seen a sickness like this on a young person. It only happens to elderly people who are near death.’ He gave me medication, but it was not able to kill the pain. I felt that something was in me, like a large spider, and the only time I found relief was when I lay my body on top of our wood burning stove. When I did this, I could feel near my heart that this ‘something’ was dead, and at the same time, my body wouldn’t feel the heat of the stove. It was all very strange, and my mom was confused, as well.”
One day, Michel’s mom approached him when he was crying from the pain:
“Listen to me. Something is wrong. This isn’t of the Lord.”
“I know, Mom. But it’s in me. I don’t know what it is.”
“Let’s pray and look at the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” So they prayed before the Lord’s image. “Now, look at the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We will ask her to put you to sleep so that the Lord can heal you.” Michel said this prayer with his mom and then fell asleep. When he woke the next morning, his body was entirely free of pain. This “something” had fallen off of him and onto the bed. They then removed the bed covers and burned them.
Soon after that, Michel made his First Communion. Since his family was poor, he didn’t have a fancy suit, like the other boys were wearing. His mom made everything for Michel and his siblings by hand. Though he was as well-dressed as her heart and pockets could make him, he felt shy and self-conscious about his old shoes, being the only child present without brand new, shiny shoes.
When it came time for Michel to receive his First Holy Communion, his mind was not present. He was mentally in his shoes. As he stepped forward for Communion, he was looking down at his feet. He lifted his eyes to see his saintly parish priest, Fr. Jean-Marc, who knew his family well and served their village in French-speaking Quebec for thirty years. Fr. Jean-Marc lifted up the Host, and as he pronounced the words, “The Body of Christ,” a bright sunray burst through the side windows of the church, bathing only Father and Michel in its light. The priest froze, as if suspended, which gave Michel time enough to say to the Lord, “Sorry for my shoes.” Then he received his First Communion.
Starting at age ten, Michel had a priest spiritual advisor. The priest knew that Michel was afraid of the dark. He also knew Michel grew terrified every time he saw the ugly face of the evil one, who often revealed himself to him.
At age twelve, Michel was working in the church after Mass, when the priest said, “Michel, tonight we will pray together.”
“You will come to the sanctuary, and you will pray with me.” That night, Michel met him in the church. “I will sit and pray on one side of the church,” said the priest, “and you do the same on the other side.” Then he turned off all the lights. It was silent. Dark. Only the flickering flame from the Tabernacle candle was visible.
“Why are we not leaving the lights on?” Michel gasped, terrified.
Suddenly, the door to the vestibule started to shake furiously.
The priest said to Michel, “Go and see what it is.”
“Oh, my God!” trembled Michel, feeling as though he was dying of fear. “We must leave!”
“No, you will move toward the noise. You will walk. When you reach the door, open it.” Michel obeyed and walked toward the noise in the dark. The pounding and banging shook the door physically. The devil wanted in.
Michel groped for the church door in the dark. With a trembling hand and the fear of imminent death, he opened the door. Nothing and no one was there. He sat back down with the priest for a few minutes. Then suddenly the banging and clanging resumed.
“Oh, my God.”
“Go. You must go.”
Shaking in his shoes, Michel walked in the dark to the vestibule door. He opened up and trembling, peered into the sanctuary of the church, but nothing was there, so he walked back and sat down. This happened third time with the same result.
Sitting back down, he thought to himself. “I’m going to die right here, right now.” Then the lights in the vestibule began to turn on and off on their own.
“You must go back and turn off the lights.”
“But the light switch is already turned off. It was dark before.”
“You have to go.”
Moving forward in abject fear, Michel walked to the back of the church, passed through the door into the vestibule, and turned the lights switch on and then off. The lights stayed off.
He sat back down. Then, suddenly, all the locked windows in the church flung open at the same time. Michel gasped, feeling his heart almost escape his chest.
“This is the devil,” said his spiritual advisor. “But Jesus is here. When you are with Jesus, nothing can scare you.” His words gave Michel such strength that after that, he felt no fear. All became quiet, and from that moment on, Michel felt he could face any dark situation that his future might bring.
“Now,” said his spiritual advisor, “you can be a priest.”
* * *
Michel decided to enter the seminary in Quebec, and the Lord continued to affirm his calling. One day, his pastor, Fr. Jean-Marc, came to visit. “Michel,” he said, “do you remember when you received your First Holy Communion from me several years ago?”
“Yes, but what I remember most is my shoes.” They laughed until their heads rolled. Gathering his wits, the pastor said, “There’s something that I’ve never told you.”
“Do you remember the sunrays that covered only the two of us?”
“Yes, it was impressive.”
“Well, at that moment, I received a word from Jesus.”
“Oh, what was it?”
“When I held up the Host, Jesus said to me, ‘The one who will receive my Body today, the one in front of you, will be a priest.’ So when I heard that you were entering the seminary, I wanted to tell you this to give you the courage to continue moving forward.” He would need this courage in the coming years.
Michel began working as a door-to-door fish salesman to raise money for his studies. He was the top-seller because he made people laugh so much that they bought his fish, and he didn’t even know why they were laughing. (Fr. Michel’s ready laugh and smile are instantly contagious.)
In Michel’s first months of seminary, he was by far, at age sixteen, the worst student of philosophy in his class of thirteen. He understood nothing of what the teacher said and grew discouraged. The rector met with him and said, “You’re not going to make it through your studies. You have to return home. You have no capacity for seminary and certainly not for university studies. If you can do something with your hands, that will be good for you.”
Crushed, Michel thought to himself, “No no, no, I am not an empty vessel!” He went to see the philosophy professor, who looked a little lost, given his disheveled hair and mutterings, but was a true genius. He was a priest of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who taught physics and had doctorates in both mathematics and philosophy.
“I want to talk to you,” Michel said.
“Come!” After following him into his office, Michel shared with him the rector’s words. The priest let out a big, belly laugh. “They know nothing. They know nothing!”
“No, I will give you this prayer,” and he handed Michel a prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas:
Come, Holy Spirit, Divine Creator, the true source of light and fountain of wisdom. Pour forth your brilliance upon my intellect, dissipate the darkness which covers me, that of sin and of ignorance. Grant me a penetrating mind to understand, a retentive memory, method and ease in learning, the lucidity to comprehend, and abundant grace in expressing myself. Guide the beginning of my work, direct its progress, and bring it to successful completion. This I ask through Jesus Christ, true God and true man, living and reigning with You and the Father, forever and ever. Amen.
“You will say this prayer, do you understand me?—before going to sleep and when getting up in the morning, and you will see! You will see! Go!”
Michel left the eccentric professor’s office, thinking, “I could either return home or do what he says and see what happens.” He decided to recite the prayer daily, but still, he understood nothing of philosophy. On the thirtieth day of saying the prayer faithfully, Michel sat in his class, hearing, “Blah, blah, blah,” when suddenly a light struck his mind. He felt it enter with a “Bang!” Immediately, he understood not only all the past and present material the professor had covered, but what he was going to teach. Michel raised his hand.
“Professor, what you are saying is. . .”
When he finished speaking, the professor acclaimed, “Oh, ho ho, you see! Not only have you understood my past lessons and what I am saying now, but you have given me my future courses!”
After that, students started coming to Michel so that he could explain philosophy to them. He became another “teacher” at the seminary. After a couple years, he went to a university to study theology and became a mini-teacher in that subject, as well. They started to call him the “Bull of the faculty.” He could stand in front of a professor who was giving an erroneous teaching and not only pick apart his arguments but prove the teaching of the Church. This was because he had already been taught theology by the Eternal Father, starting at age three. Mr. Michel says he had no merit in this. The information was simply in his head. In addition, he possessed a photographic memory, at that time. He could look at a book page, “photograph” it in his mind, then close his eyes, absorb the information, and turn to the next page. But this remarkable ability changed later in life after he had his first heart attack (one of eight)!
After a year of theology, Michel felt like he was wasting his time, so he went to see the dean of the university. “I have a problem. I’m learning nothing here,” he said. Fr. Michel now comments, “Imagine how prideful I must have sounded—a little guy like me.”
“I already know everything they’re teaching.”
“Okay, we’ll see. We’ll test you.”
Three men with doctorates in theology prepared comprehensive exams for Michel, and he received a grade of A+. “You’re too young to be ordained,” said the dean, “so you will stay here and study different areas of theology of your choosing, and I will give you a doctorate in theology.” This gave Michel a lot to learn, and under the supervision of the faculty, he dove into mariology (the theology of the Mother of God), pneumatology (the theology of the Holy Spirit), the theology of grace, the writings of the Church Fathers, and other areas of theology.
Truth was, being in seminary was hard. When Michel first entered, just outside the door of the room next to his, sat a demon, watching and waiting. Homosexual activity was rampant there at the time, and his neighbor was receiving a lot of visitors after dark. Michel heard everything through the walls and could smell wafts of alcohol. He went to the rector and told him the situation, naming the young man next door. In response, the rector threw him out of the seminary. They said that he was too spiritual and accused him of saying the Rosary too much outside on the seminary grounds. The news was so painful for him that he almost fainted upon hearing it. Later, he would learn that the rector was one of his seminary neighbor’s night visitors.
Michel returned home, struck by a sword of sorrow and defeat, comprised of people’s desire to kill his vocation. The pain was so unbearable that he felt it physically piercing his heart. His mother quickly discerned his deflated spirit and said, “Michel, look at me.” He lifted up his downturned chin. “Do you remember when we prayed together to the Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus?”
“If Jesus wants you to be a priest, then no man, no one, will stop you. Do you understand? So just be confident in Him and trust in Him.” Somewhat heartened by her words, Michel decided to call Louis-Albert Vachon, the Archbishop of Québec, at that time, who knew Michel because he had served Mass for him as an acolyte.
The Archbishop called him back. “I heard that you were put out. What happened?” Michel told him the story, naming everyone and everything involved. Soon after that, the archbishop entered the seminary secretly late at night. Going to the room of Michel’s neighbor, he knocked on the door. It opened. “Pack your bags and get out of here!” he commanded. Then the archbishop went to the rector’s door: “Knock, knock, knock.”
“What happened?” said the bleary-eyed priest. “How come you’re here?”
“I’m here because this is my home!”
“What has happened?”
“I just kicked your seminarian out, and now it is your turn.” That night, Archbishop Vachon cleaned the seminary, and I was able to return to my studies. He finished his theological studies and went on to study psychology. But not everyone was happy with his horn-blowing. One day, the Archbishop of Rimouski went to see Michel’s mother in order to tell her that nobody would ordain him, and Michel would no longer be a seminarian.
Michel’s mother looked at him and said, “Your Excellence. My son is a man who has a free will, and God will do with Him what He wants to do. You might have a miter on your head, but you are not Jesus. You are just a disciple of Jesus. When I make my soup for many here, you are not invited. Have soup at your own home, and I’ll do mine. You may leave now.”
Michel’s mom, he says, was a saint. She not only took care of twenty-three children, but always had a room in their family home for passing beggars who needed a play to stay, but there was no longer room for the archbishop. Michel’s mother suffered greatly for Michel. She offered everything she could to help him become a priest.
Michel continued to involve himself in ministry and was assigned to be the head liturgist for the Archdiocese of Rimouski and to supervise the liturgical life of three other dioceses. Then he went to the diocese of Amos to join a fraternity founded by a priest, but when his men were ordained, the bishop sent them off to be diocesan priests, so he had to close the fraternity.
Michel returned to Montreal and opened a center for troubled youth, eighteen to twenty-one-year-olds living on the streets, involved in drugs and prostitution. By that time, he also had a degree in psychoanalysis. Michel counseled the youth, gave them hope and a future, and gathered many people to work under him for the cause.
Around that time, Michel’s mother contracted cancer, and he knew in his heart that she would not live long. The night before she died, Michel told the Virgin Mary, “I cannot see my mom like this. It’s too much. Please do something. Either heal her during the night or come and take her.” When he went to sleep, he had a dream in which he saw his father, Émile, standing in a large field of golden wheat, far off to his right. Michel’s mother then appeared at the left end of the field. Émile began moving his arms, motioning for his wife to come toward him as she looked at Michel and smiled. Émile then looked at Michel and bowed his head. Michel knew that this meant she would die. His mother walked to the middle of the field, stopped, looked once more at Michel and then at Émile, who beckoned her again. She smiled at Michel one last time, and then walked toward her husband.
Michel’s mother died the next day, five minutes before midnight. Fr. Michel recounts, “To tell you how great she was, during her last four hours of life, she illuminated her hospital room. Light beamed from her body, and every nurse and doctor from Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal came to see what they called ‘the phenomenon.’ They didn’t know that the glow that emanated from her was a sign of her sanctity.”
Weeks after his mother’s death, Michel received a phone call from a priest friend of his, inviting him to sing at an ordination Mass in the diocese of Hearst in Ontario, Canada. He needed him to sing the Litany of the Saints and a song to the Holy Spirit with high notes that no one else could reach. Michel agreed. The bishop of Hearst, Roger-Alfred Despatie, was present, and as he knelt, facing the altar, for the litany of the saints, he heard a voice say to him, “My son, the one who is singing the litany of My saints, I want you to ordain him.” The bishop shook his head, looked around, and thought to himself, “I’ve gone crazy. I’m hearing a voice.” Trying to ignore it, he concentrated on praying the litany of the saints more deeply, but the voice came back: “My Son, listen. The one who is singing the litany of My saints, I want you to ordain him.” Bishop Despatie realized then that it was the voice of Jesus.
When the service ended, the bishop approached Michel and asked, “Do you want to be ordained a priest?”
He answered, “Yes, I would like to.”
“I’m calling you right now,” he stated.
Michel started to laugh. He’d had such great difficulty with the hierarchy that he assumed the bishop was joking. “Are you serious?”
“I’m calling you now.”
“Okay,” he retorted, “but I do not want to come to serve as a lay pastoral associate. If you want me, I will come to you as a future priest.”
“Yes, this is what I want.”
Michel quit his position as president director of psychological services at the organization he founded in Montreal, and only days later, Bishop Despatie called to tell him, “You will be ordained and assigned to the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.”
“Uh, are you sure?” responded Michel.
“Uh, okay,” muttered Michel, without enthusiasm. His heart dropped because at age eleven or twelve, when he was praying in front of a statue of Our Lady of All Graces in his hometown church, Our Lady told him, “One day, you will be ordained as a priest under my Immaculate Heart,” and added that he would be ordained in a church called Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
“No, something is wrong,” Michel thought. “Perhaps I misunderstood you, Mamma?”
Two or three days later, he received another call from the bishop. “Michel, I have a problem. I cannot move the pastor from Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church, so I have to move you. I’m going to place you at Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary Church, where you will be ordained.”
“Yes, Yes!” Michel exclaimed before the bishop could finish his sentence. Thus, Michel final became Fr. Michel Rodrigue at the age of thirty. Michel had been in the habit for years of saying to his guardian angel, “After you,” when he would enter his room. But on the day of his ordination, when he returned to his room and said, “Please, go in front of me,” he heard his angel say, “No, you go in front of me. You are a priest now.”
Many years later, Bishop Despatie said to Fr. Michel, “I’ve heard the voice of Jesus only one time in my life, and it was for your ordination.”
* * *
So. Michel Rodrigue was ordained to the priesthood by the bishop of Hearst in Ontario, Canada, Roger-Alfred Despatie. Recognizing Fr. Michel’s extraordinary gifts, he made Fr. Michel a formation director of priests shortly before the bishop’s death. “You will go to Montreal to meet the Sulpician Fathers,” he said, and arranged for Fr. Michel to meet the Superior of an order in the Church he had never heard of. Soon afterward, Fr. Michel became a Sulpician priest and a seminary professor in Montreal. To this duty was eventually added the role of exorcist, hospital chaplain, and pastor of three parishes.
Fr. Michel’s priesthood was never an ordinary one. On Christmas eve of 2009, a parish in Montreal could not find a pastor to celebrate their 8 and 10 a.m. Masses. “I will go!” thought Fr. Michel. St. Michael is my patron saint.” The Christmas Eve Mass began as a normal ceremony, filled to capacity with three balconies overflowing, and then, suddenly, the Holy Spirit poured Himself upon everyone present, like a Pentecost. The experience was more glorious than Fr. Michel has words to describe. When the people’s spirits were lifted, they switched from singing a Christmas song to raising their hands in praise, some of them suddenly singing in tongues. The sound was so loud that people stopped their cars and entered the church from the street, wondering what could be happening inside. Fr. Michel was floating in the Spirit and felt electricity coursing through him as he preached. “I am in my element!” he thought.
Then came the 10 a.m. Mass. Still electrified, Fr. Michel hoped to see people catch the fire of the Spirit again. Nope. Staring back at him from the pews was a sea of sullen faces. Fr. Michel comments, “When the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and the Father give you a piece of candy, they don’t give you the same one twice.” Asking for another “Pentecost,” he said to the Lord, “Do something, please!” Soon after that, everyone heard a scream coming from the third balcony: “Help!” Fr. Michel knew something grave had happened, so he stopped preaching and ran. “Are there any doctors here?” he called out, and four of them ran up the stairs past him. When he arrived at the third balcony, huffing and puffing, the doctors were doing manual chest compressions on a woman who had collapsed. After trying to revive her, they said to him, “It’s finished, Father. She’s dead.”
“What!? Dead!? Tonight!?” Any other time, Fr. Michel would have accepted this because he knew that Christmas was one of the best times to die—a day that God welcomes souls into paradise in great numbers. But at that moment (and he didn’t know why) he fought against it. He knelt by the side of the woman’s body, and everything disappeared around him. He cried out, “Finished? How come, Father? How can this lady die tonight? I cannot accept it! What are You doing? This is Christmas! The Nativity of Your Son! Nobody here is supposed to be dead tonight. You’re supposed to give life!”
And he forgot that his lavalier microphone was on. The entire church heard everything loud and clear. In his angst, he put his hand on her chest and declared, “In the name of the Lord Jesus, come back!” With a loud gasp that was heard throughout the church, the woman took in a huge breath of air and entered back into her body. Then she jumped up and began dancing in front of Fr. Michel, and the physicians looked confused. “Father, I’m so well! I’ve never felt better in my life!”
“Stop, stop. You must go to the hospital,” he insisted.
“No, no, I don’t want to go to the hospital.”
Someone had called an ambulance, which was waiting outside. “Listen to me,” he told her with words that the Spirit gave him. “You will go to the hospital. They will find nothing. You will come back, and when you do, the doors of the back of the church will open. You will see a corridor of vapor from the St. Lawrence River entering the church (wintertime in Montreal can drop to negative 20 degrees). You will pass through this cloud, and as you emerge, you will receive Holy Communion, as if you are an apparition.”
She just looked at him and said, “Yes.”
Fr. Michel walked back down to the sanctuary of the church and saw that everyone was kneeling in silence. “What have I done?” he wondered. He continued saying the Holy Mass, and when as he was handing Communion to the last people in line, everyone heard a loud cracking noise. The doors at the back of the church, which hadn’t been opened in about 100 years, slowly opened of their own accord, and mist from the St. Lawrence River poured in like a corridor into the middle of the church. The woman was hidden from view as she walked through the cloud of vapor, and as the mist dissipated, she appeared “miraculously” in front of Fr. Michel. When she received Holy Communion, everyone in the church, filled with awe, rose spontaneously to their feet and clapped their hands in a thunderous applause.
The Lord had orchestrated perhaps one of the greatest climaxes of faith one can have: seeing a lady, risen from death, receive the Body of Jesus Christ, surrounded by a cloud, on the eve of the birth of the Savior.
As Fr. Michel drove home to the seminary, God the Father was dictating to him the chaplet for the Eternal Father, which Fr. Michel hadn’t known of before the Father instructed him in it—all the way home. Fr. Michel became so imbued with the grace of the Father the “Our Father” prayer breathed and lived within him. By the time he arrived home at the end of the day, he was so filled with the living breath of God that he “floated” into his room. “Lord,” Fr. Michel chuckled, “we must sleep now because tomorrow we have a long day!”
God the Father, however, had other plans. At 2:30 in the morning, Fr. Michel’s bed began moving from side to side, and he saw St. Benedict Joseph Labre standing at his bedside, shaking his shoulder to wake him. St. Benedict Joseph Labre was a French layman from the 1700s who was called by God to be a solitary beggar. Endowed with extraordinary spiritual gifts, he was sometimes seen in multiple churches at the same time, adoring Jesus in the Eucharist. Only two or three other saints in the history of the Church have had this gift of multi-location. Today, St. Benedict Joseph Labre’s body is incorrupt—and flexible.
Speaking of what happened next, Fr. Michel says, “I know the voice of the Father, I know the voice of Jesus, I know the voice of the Virgin Mary, and I also know the voice of my guardian angel. But the voice I heard next I couldn’t identify because it so deep. It was the source of everything. I wasn’t sure who was speaking. I thought perhaps it was the Trinity speaking as one.”
Fr. Michel then heard the voice say to him, “Stand,” so he did. “Go to the computer,” so he walked over and sat down at his desk. “Listen and write.” Then God the Father proceeded to dictate the entire constitution for a new religious order. Typing at sixty-three words per minute, he couldn’t keep up. “I cannot follow you!” he complained. “You’re going too fast!” Fr. Michel heard the Father chuckle, and He slowed down for him. God told Fr. Michel that the order would be called Fraternité Apostolique Saint Benoît-Joseph Labre (The Apostolic Fraternity of St. Joseph Benedict Labre). One branch would be for families committed to Christian life, another for consecrated sisters, and another for future priests and deacons.
Then the Father suddenly took Fr. Michel away with Him. He found himself flying over a piece of land in the diocese of Amos in northern Quebec, where God wanted this new fraternity of semi-monastic life. God showed him the monastery to be built and the river behind it. Then He led Fr. Michel inside its walls, and they passed through its rooms together. Fr. Michel could see everything in great detail, what the fraternity would need, what it would look like. Then God showed him a second monastery building and its interior, leaving an imprint of everything in his mind.
Fr. Michel started to panic. What the Father was asking of him seemed too big, too much! He was already teaching in the seminary forming future priests of the Church. He was a pastor, a priest at the cathedral, and an exorcist. How could God ask him to found another community? He said to God, “I cannot do this, Father! You know me. I’ve had eight heart attacks and cancer three times. I will die. Why don’t You choose someone intelligent—a good theologian. Why don’t You choose someone in good health?”
Fr. Michel learned that one shouldn’t argue too much with the Father. Suddenly, everything disappeared, and he was suspended like dust in the universe. He could see all the planets, the sun, the stars, the galaxies—everything. He had opened up books of astronomy and seen beautiful images of the universe, but they didn’t compare to the grandeur surrounding him. Then God, the Father, spoke. His thunderous words, which emanated from the Source of all life, caused every cell of his body to vibrate intensely. “YOU, HUMAN RACE. YOU WHO I CREATED WITH MY LOVE, WHO COMMIT SIN.” When God pronounced the word “SIN,” Fr. Michel thought he would die—this time, for real.
Then he heard Jesus say, “Michel,” with a soft, loving voice, completely different from the Father’s. With the sound of him name, he entered into the chambers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In his own words, Fr. Michel remembers:
In the first chamber were all of the priests and bishops who are called to represent Him on Earth. In the second chamber were all of the baptized. In the third were those who didn’t know Jesus, who have to be evangelized, and in the fourth was all of God’s creation on Earth and in the universe. I understood that in Him and through Him, by the will of the Father, we have our existence. I could see and hear the beating of Jesus’ Heart, which echoed the love of the Eternal One. I could see the flowing of His Blood, nourishing and giving harmony to everything. In every instant of our lives, His Blood passes through us, touching every level of the universe completely. I will never forget the beating of the Heart of Jesus.
Then Jesus said his name again, “Michel,” and he saw the monasteries, the land, and all that the Father had shown him. “Do you not know that everything My Father has asked you to do exists already? You are just His servant, and you will find people to help you.”
Fr. Michel says, “I can assure you that at that moment, I adjusted all of my theological learning in a few seconds.”
“Yes, Father,” he said. “I will do it,” and suddenly he was back home, sitting in front of his computer.
Fr. Michel says:
When I returned, the Father began to show me many things that will happen in the world. Everything that I am sharing, I also tell my bishop. I have no secrets. He and three other bishops have all approved of the new order, so I had no choice but to go forward because I am a priest of the Church. Since then, the Father has arranged everything. We have the land. We have begun construction of the first monastery and are asking for funds for the second one. He is preparing the Church of the future and a refuge for priests. This why He asked us to build the new monastery, and this is why I ask people to help me. It’s not to help me, it’s to help the Father. And He showed me that I am preparing the priests for the future of the Church. The future of the Church is in His hands.
Our bishop approved of the new order through the Church, and during the ceremony when he blessed our vestments and was putting the new vestment on me as the first abbot of the new monastery, I heard the voice of the Virgin Mary saying, “I call the apostle of the end times.” [Note: Fr. Michel also heard St. Michael the Archangel call the Church to “pray with the Mother of God for the apostles of the last days to rise!” Hence, Fr. Michel is not the only one called to witness to these “end times.”] And then I heard, “I call a new order of the Church.”
To continue to the next post for the “virtual retreat” with Fr. Michel, click on PART 2: Fr. Michel Rodrigue – Adventures in Medjugorje.
Click here to start at the beginning.