Pierre Elliott Trudeau:
Homily by Rev. Jean-Guy Dubuc
October 3, 2000
The reading that the Prime Minister made a few minutes ago - Mr. Chrétien - was clearly expressed by Saint Paul, an act of faith in the resurrection of Christ.
The text was kept by Mr. Pierre Trudeau that he chose for the funeral of his son Michel. It's a rigorous text, it's radical, it's fundamental. It expressed in fact Mr. Trudeau's own faith, which he tried to bring out of himself. Connected to the essential of his being, reason beyond passion.
If Sacha chose to read this beautiful text of the prophet Daniel, it was in remembrance of his Sunday afternoons in Ottawa when he and his two brothers would sit with their father and he would read to them his favourite pages of the Bible. The Bible being a heritage of poetry that the father wished to pass on to his children, to get closer to their roots and to embellish life, to transmit to those people that he loved above all others in the world the profound values that had fed and nurtured his entire existence.
We knew him to be an admirable father who instilled a respect for the sacred in the children, who fed on spiritual values and knew how to incarnate these in the home, despite the very busy life that was his lot.
His poetic style that linked to the life of the Israelites. Daniel described a tree in the middle of a field, a tree that meant to him the strength of man faced with his God.
For us, a tree representing the man who was caused us to be gathered here today. The height reaches toward heaven, its width encompasses the Earth, which allows us to encompass and look forward to higher ideals, that we can go beyond ourselves and have an influence beyond ourselves in the world. On one condition - that this tree reaching out to the heavens be well anchored by its roots to the earth that gave it life. That these roots represent the links of iron and strength as we wish for everyone who rises above their own common day-to-day lives as Pierre Trudeau did.
As he lived throughout his legendary life of freedom of thought and action and through the turmoils of politics, he remained true to what was dearest to him - his family, his friends, his country and his faith.
We know all about Pierre Trudeau's political and public life - now is not the time to go over that - but that will always remain just one facet of his life. The more visible facet of his life.
But he would go pray with the Benedictine monks near his home on lunch hour, a faithful believer, he would go to his parish church on Sundays. During evening private conversations, he would speak of the Bible, the role of the church and the transmitting of values he wished to discuss not for a mere intellectual gain, which he certainly could have.
This concern that he was turning himself constantly toward the essential, the real, that he remained a man at peace, a serene man, all the way until his last days, despite the suffering and the pain and hardship that he lived through.
Jesus said in the text of Saint John that I read to you, that there is no greater love than to offer up one's life to the ones one loves. And we have to say this sincerely, that political commitment is a demanding task that demands a sacrifice of a great part of one's self toward the betterment of one's fellow man.
Those who commit themselves to this must recall that their lives correspond to the greatest lessons offered up by the gospels - the love of others that represents the love of God. Those - if their commitment is a way of loving others - they are fulfilled in their endeavours, and I think that this conviction was an integral part of the life of the person we are celebrating here today.
Deciding to become a professor of law, Pierre Trudeau did not expect to become a political man. His type of intellectual undertakings, his intelligence, his idealism, his cultural studies, his desire for freedom for all people made him a great counsellor.
If he accepted - pressed by his friends - to play a political role that was not attractive to him at all at the time, but it was the concern for being useful in society and death forces us to consider the essentials of our lives.
We are fortunate if our talents helped others, we are fortunate if our object made us loved by others. The immense responsibilities born by Pierre Trudeau as a head of state, his role in the world, his influence on our collective and private lives - none of this can cause us to forget that he himself only ever chose to serve life with the serenity that his own life allowed.
Let us remind ourselves of the words of the prophet Daniel that we heard earlier, his leads were beautiful, abundant, as were his fruits. Everyone could feed from these. As Pierre said: there is no greater love than to offer up one's life to those one loves.