Br Francois to Br Claude-Marie
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
Claude-Marie's most recent letter to Francois was of 19 March the previous year (rf Intr. to L 118) but it is probably to earlier letters (eg June 1849 L 80) that Francois is referring here . The texts cited are not so appropriate to the brother's situation in Nelson, though, like Justin, he did not find his current occupations very congenial. Not surprisingly, Francois quotes the same or similar texts in most of these letters. His familiarity with scripture comes naturally from his responsibility for giving conferences to the brothers, especially at the annual retreats, and also from spiritual direction, as shown in his correspondence.
Text of the Letter
- In reading in your interesting letters about the different posts you have had in the stations and the various journeys you have to make, we can apply to you in a special way the words of St Paul: 'Here we have no lasting dwelling but we are seeking the place where we will one day dwell.' And these of St Peter: ' You are strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Yes, my dear Brother, this sojourn below is merely a pilgrimage. Let us live there as strangers and seek only the things of heaven where Jesus Christ has gone to prepare a place for us [cf John 14: 2], having no taste or liking for anything but the things of heaven, not for those of earth. May our conversation be with Jesus and Mary in heaven, with the Angels and Saints.
- The Lord has already subjected you to many of the trials of the apostolic life and, with due consideration, you can say with St Paul: 'I have endured many hardships, I have suffered many trials, I have frequently been exposed to danger on many voyages, in peril on rivers and on the sea, in peril in the city and in the desert, in toil and in hardship, often without sleep, in hunger and thirst, in cold and in want.' [2 Cor. 11: 26-7] But, with the same Apostle, you can add: 'Amid all these evils, we remain victorious and unshakeable through him who loved us to the point of dying for us. So nothing will be able to separate us from his love. Besides, the sufferings of this present life bear no comparison with the glory which is promised us.' [cf Rom. 8: 35-9, 18] I am not afraid then to punish my body and reduce it to servitude lest I lose this glory and this eternal happiness [cf 1 Cor. 9: 27].
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