Br Francois to Br Gennade, St Genis Laval, 17 January 1859
LFF 2: 325-326
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
Gennade had been at Villa Maria since his return from the Solomons in 1853 but he may have been helping out at Clydesdale when this letter reached Sydney in 1859 (Hosie 255). His own letter is not extant but its description of the situation in Sydney does not differ from that given by his confreres (eg. Joseph-Xavier in his letters of 1851, rf L 92). He was a man of deep spirituality and appears to have been responsible for postulants to the brothers at Villa Maria (Hosie 146).
Text of the Letter
- Dear Brother,
- We have read with the greatest pleasure your interesting letter. You paint for us a charming picture of Australia and especially of Sydney and its surroundings, one which would quite naturally arouse a desire to go there, if one were really keen on gold and beautiful landscapes. But on the other side, you let us see that there is a great deal of good to be done, a great deal of trouble to put up with, and souls to be won for God, and that is the most powerful motive for the heart of a religious to determine him to follow the attraction of grace, and the vocation leading to the salvation of souls. I see with real consolation that those are the sentiments which animate our Brothers leaving for Oceania and those requesting to go, and I have every reason to hope that they will walk constantly in the steps of the most pious, docile and devoted of their predecessors.
- What you tell us of the behaviour and morals of the inhabitants is indeed suited to inspire disgust with the world and to make one appreciate the grace of the religious vocation. We make profession of being dead to the world to live in God with Jesus Christ. This death is an interior disgust the religious has for everything the world loves and strives after. It is not simply a scorn which causes us to place no value on creatures, after having once realized their vanity and uselessness, but it is a disgust for everything worldly which makes one unable to any longer look at them or put up with them. As a rule this disgust is a consequence of union with God, for the soul having tasted this infinitely good and supremely loveable Object, can have only an extreme distaste for anything else.
- In fact, as God comprises and includes all things in himself, and as he has what fills and satisfies all our faculties, he satisfies them all fully by his presence and his activity. In such fashion that the faculties of the body and the energies of the soul find themselves perfectly contented and fulfilled in possessing the One in whom everything good, loveable, beautiful, desirable is to be found in the highest degree, and without whom everything is nothing but vanity and affliction of spirit. So the religious is happy to sacrifice for him everything, even the most innocent or most pleasing to nature, in order to prove to him in this way the esteem he holds for his infinite beauty and grandeur, the only thing to which he aspires and which can bring him content.
- It is my desire, my dear Brother, that Our Lord heap upon you more and more of those graces and gifts which make saints and apostles, so that you may amass those treasures which neither rust nor moth consume [Matt. 6: 20], and which thieves cannot steal.
- Fr Matricon and all the senior Brothers who know you, send you a thousand good wishes and wish you a good New Year as well as a happy success in all your little tasks. I also renew all my affection and sincere attachment and leave you with confidence in the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary where we will be reunited and embrace frequently during life while awaiting the happiness of seeing one another together in a blessed eternity.
- You will see the details of my trip to Rome and many other things of interest in the circular I am sending and which is common to all the Brothers. My respects to all the Fathers who are with you and my regards to all the Brothers of the house of Villa Maria.
- I am in union of prayers and works, your very devoted … F.F.
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