Br Francois to Br Elie-Regis
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
In addressing this note to Elie-Regis, Francois certainly has in mind his letter of June 1846 (L 65) , and he had probably also read the one to Colin of January 1852 (L96). The scriptural texts cited are appropriate to one constantly on the move. In 1857, however, Elie-Regis was relatively settled, having been stationed with Lampila at Kauaeroa on the middle reaches of the Whanganui River, since 1854. He was to remain there about another decade.
Text of the Letter
- On reading your letters, and on observing the different stations and the voyages you have had to make in the service of the Missions, I recalled these words of the Apostle, which could be applied to you in Oceania on several counts: “Here we have no lasting dwelling but we are seeking the place where one day we will dwell.” [Heb. 13:14]. Yes, my Brother, I can also say to you with the Prince of the Apostles, “You are strangers and pilgrims on the earth” [cf 1 Peter 2: 11]. But you know that those were the sentiments and dispositions of the patriarchs of old. And David himself said it was his pleasure to sing the praises of the Lord and the wonders of his holy law in the places of his pilgrimage [rf psalm 119 (118): 54].
- We are citizens of heaven and that is the destination we are heading for every moment of every day. Heaven and the way there, these provide the main matter of our conferences, and our conversations, to get there ourselves and take many others with us. Singing and meditating on the canticle, 'This sojourn below is merely a pilgrimage', no one has difficulty in becoming detached from earthly things and the natural comforts.
- You see that from time to time the Lord offers you the opportunity of making some sacrifices, but that his Providence always comes to your aid when necessary and supports you in danger, on land as much as on sea. One can say that that is the life of an apostle, and indeed the life of any Christian: trials, toils, dangers, and the aid, the grace, and the protection of God.
- You have to get used to anything, and you can say with the Apostle, 'I have learned to be content in whatever state I am. I know how to live with poverty, I know how to live with abundance. I have become used to anything, to having plenty and to hunger, to abundance and to want.' [Phil. 4: 11-12] We were very interested in your story of your debate with the protestant Unisson [Wilson]. That time you experienced what Our Lord said to the Apostles: 'I myself will give you the words and a wisdom your enemies cannot resist and cannot contradict' [Lk 21: 15]. Blessed be Jesus and Mary who gave you such assistance and brought about the triumph of the good cause.
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