Br Francois to Br Joseph-Xavier, (Our Lady of the Hermitage), 9 Jan 1857
In a report to Favre on the personnel of Villa Maria on 7 January 1858, Poupinel writes that Joseph was responsible for the laundry, the animals, the wine and the carpentry of the establishment. He was still hoping to return to France, but Poupinel was doing his best to keep him at the procure (Poupinel: Correspondence, OVM, APM). Joseph undoubtedly felt his missionary days were over and questioned the value of his work in Sydney. Francois reminds him of the value of work done under obedience for the apostolate .He certainly needed the reassurance as he was to spend the rest of his life at Villa Maria.
Text of the Letter
- You have already had great experience of the apostolic life, my dear Brother, and you know what it costs in difficulties, crosses, privations, and sufferings in distant and savage lands where everything must be done and set up. But you also have the consolation of experiencing the effects of the Saviour's promises to his Apostles in the care of divine Providence for all those who trust in it and do its work [cf Lk 12: 22-32].
- Although your time at the Hermitage was not very long, I still recall you with pleasure and I am very interested in hearing of all you are doing in Oceania. It could be said that up to now you have worked for the glory of God and the salvation of souls like our divine Saviour during the thirty years of his hidden life, in occupying yourself with all sorts of manual work for the needs of the missions.
- Your merit is not the less great, my dear Brother, and your recompense will not be less, because, as you know, true virtue, true perfection, does not consist in doing things impressive in the eyes of men, but in doing well everything God wills and requires of us. So, following the example of St Louis de Gonzaga, St Alphonsus Rodriguez, and so many other saints, you can contribute greatly to the conversion of sinners and the infidels by carrying out your tasks religiously.
- For that end, take care to raise your mind and heart to God every now and then, to recall his holy presence, and to offer him all your activities and trials.
- Not the ascetical writer but a lay brother of the Society of Jesus who attained sanctity through his devotion to the mundane daily tasks of serving his brethren.
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