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Br Francois to Br Ptolomee, St Genis Laval, 17 January 1859

LFF 2: 322- 323

Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS


Br Ptolomee (Jean-Baptiste Royer 1821-1863), from Pelussin, entered the Hermitage in 1845 and took the habit the following year. He was part of the Marist missionary group which sailed for the Pacific in October 1858. While waiting for their ship to leave they stayed at the Marist house in Verdelais, south of Bordeaux, where the Society had been given charge of the Marian shrine in 1838. This is where Ptolomee wrote his farewell letter to Francois a week before they sailed. After their arrival in Sydney in February 1859, he sent him another describing the voyage (L 139). Ptolomee’s final destination was Tonga, where he landed in September. His religious name, a trial for the islanders, is also found in the records spelt Ptolemee (rf AM 2. 321-4).

Text of the Letter

Dear Brother,
I received with very special interest your fine farewell letter dated from Our Lady of Verdelais, 18 October, and I am very appreciative of the tender and affectionate sentiments you express there. Without doubt, my dear Brother, it is a little painful to nature to separate from what one holds dearest in the world, but you know that God never lets himself be outdone in generosity. When one leaves everything for God, one rediscovers everything in God. Therefore, cast your doubts and troubles onto his fatherly breast, for he himself is looking after you. He guides you, he leads you. Nothing will be wanting to you.
You know that Our Lord at the last supper asked his apostles if, when he had sent them out without purse, haversack, and sandals, they had lacked for anything, [and] they replied in love and gratitude: ‘We lacked nothing.’ It is you, this divine Saviour then told them, ít is you who have always remained faithfully by me in my temptations and in the trials and contradictions I have had to suffer from men, and so I am preparing for you the heavenly kingdom as my Father prepares it for me. [cf Luke 22: 35, 28-9]
You wish, my dear Brother, to be always inseparably united to your superiors and your Brothers, and they themselves share your desires and wishes. Yes, despite the distance which separates us, we all constitute one family. We are all enrolled in the same society, and we all fight under the same standards of Jesus and Mary. We will see each other and we will often be together in spirit in their sacred hearts, and we will offer in concert our prayers, our works, and our difficulties. For you it will be a daily exercise, but we still have the consolation of writing to each other from time to time, and of doing by writing, as far as possible, what we cannot do any more by speech.
Yes, my dear Brother, may we be Jesus’ at all times and in all places, and may Jesus be all to us in everything and everywhere, may he be our only all. He has come to redeem the whole world. Let us enter into his designs, let us imitate his virtues, let us live with his life, and may he alone live in us. Whatever state and whatever position we find ourselves in, let us stay intimately united to Jesus and we will find in him all we could and should desire. May the life and sufferings of Jesus be the ordinary subject of our meditations and the mirror of our life. It is there that we will see all the virtues resplendent: the poverty of his birth, a silence of thirty years when he said hardly a thing because he wanted to speak only to please his Father. We will see there mortification, patience, humility, obedience, meekness, peace, love of the cross, zeal for the salvation of souls, etc. in his life and in his death.
Let us strive then to mould ourselves on this divine model so as to acquire the perfection God asks of us and to be like him in everything, as the apostle, Saint Paul, exhorts us: ‘What cannot be done except through union with Jesus and through love and imitation of his virtues; let him live then, let him reign in us, and let him triumph forever over ourselves.’ [cf Eph. 3: 16-20; 4: 22] Let us seek only to please him and to satisfy him in everything so that we no longer seek our own satisfaction, but we work only to procure his Father’s glory. Let us look for nothing else in all our actions and let us follow in everything the movements of his spirit which will always lead us to distrust ourselves, to conquer and mortify ourselves at every opportunity and to love and serve the neighbour for the love of Jesus, following the example of Mary, our good Mother, who is the most perfect copy of Jesus and who desires that we be her imitators.
You will find in the circular letter I am sending to all the Brothers of Oceania some interesting details of my trip to Rome. I renew my sentiments of affection and sincere attachment…

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