Br Francois to Br Marie-Augustin, (Our Lady of the Hermitage), 9 Jan 1857
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
At the time Francois wrote this letter, Marie-Augustin had been over two years out of the Society. Bataillon had dispensed him from his vows in June 1855. He had undoubtedly had enough of the trials Mathieu describes in such details in his letters (L 110). The priest's own attitude to brothers may also have been a contributing factor (rf Intr.L 90). The brother may even have written to Francois himself about his problems; this might explain the superior's emphasis on patience and perseverance. Francois certainly had a high opinion of him as we see in his reaction to the news of his departure (rf L 125). After his withdrawal he continued to live near the missionaries at Levuka.
Text of the Letter
- Many things have happened since we parted, my dear Brother. You have seen and endured a lot in Oceania; doubtless you expected such on leaving France and you made your sacrifice generously. But we are aware that nature is still susceptible and that we need a special grace in many situations in case we fail in our duty. Such grace is never refused us when we take care to ask for it in fervent prayer, and provided we put no obstacle consciously in its way.
- So I hope the Lord has bestowed his favours on you in abundance and that, despite your troubles, your sufferings and privations, you can still say like the Apostles: 'Providence has always provided for our needs with a quite paternal goodness and attention.' Besides, my dear Brother, are we not the children of the saints, the apostles, the martyrs? Since it cost them everything to destroy the reign of sin and to establish that of virtue, to resist the assaults of the demon and to persevere in the love of God and in fidelity to all their duties, can we be surprised and complain if we have to suffer something for God's glory and the salvation of souls?
- Certainly not! We can, rather, write with St Paul: 'Amid all these evils, we remain victorious through the help of him who loved us to giving his blood and his life for us. So nothing will be able to separate us from the love of Jesus Christ; neither tribulation nor distress nor hunger, nor persecution, nor torment, nor death' [cf Rom. 8: 35-9]. Look always to the protection of our lovable Mother, our refuge, our star, our ordinary resource, who always shows herself so good to us. It is in her motherly heart that I look to find you and embrace you most affectionately in spirit.
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