Br Francois to Br Bertrand, (Our Lady of the Hermitage), 9 Jan 1857
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
Bertrand's 'little note' to Francois has not survived, nor indeed has any of his correspondence. We can assume that, as he was constantly being moved around to work on building projects, etc. he rarely had time to sit down and write. An indefatiguable worker, he had his moments of discouragement, as this letter indicates . He was probably on the Ile des Pins when this letter was written. Francois refers to his confrere Br Pierre-Joseph at the Hermitage. Pierre Rode (1809-1868), a late vocation, was mason, metal-worker and locksmith, and Bertrand probably worked with him during his postulancy and novitiate in 1843-1844.
Text of the Letter
- Dear Br Aristide has had good things to tell me about you. I have also received your little note. I have been pleased with all that. But I think we can communicate more frequently from now on. I know very well that you have a lot to do and you do not have much learning. But you also know that it is not fine phrases and learning that I want, but news, things stated very plainly, very simply. You can prepare a letter well in advance and send it when opportunity offers. For my part, I will endeavour not to keep you waiting too long for a reply, since the time might drag for you sometimes, what with the great distance between us.
- The good Br Pierre-Joseph has not forgotten you. He is equally appreciative of your remembrance of him and so are the other Brothers. I am sure that if he were with you in Oceania, you would both be doing great work. But you know there is no shortage of work to be done here. Since good Br Jerome's death, he has had to take charge of the horse. He is moreover a very pious, very wise and very devoted Brother.
- Hoe your row well, both of you, each in his own situation, so that one day you may meet again, never to be parted. And I would like to be there too.
- Come now, courage, my dear Brother. We have embraced the cross for the love of Jesus Christ; let us carry it courageously to death. Jesus goes before us. Let us keep following him without letting ourselves be defeated or discouraged. If sometimes we meet with setbacks, storms, the assaults of the enemy of our salvation, let us then have recourse, with filial confidence, to Mary, our refuge, our star, our ordinary resource. Let us shut ourselves inside her motherly heart, wall ourselves around with her protection, and we will have nothing to fear. It is in that dear refuge I leave you and embrace you very affectionately in spirit.
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