Br Francois to Br Joseph-Xavier, St Genis Laval, 17 January 1859
LFF 2: 326
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
Joseph-Xavier’s letter to Francois, which has not survived, was certainly written to him with the encouragement of Poupinel after his arrival at Villa Maria towards the end of 1857. From his experience at the procure, the brother was better informed than most of his confreres of the general condition of the brothers in the missions and more aware of how essential it was for them to possess the spirit of their state, a subject Francois treats at length in this letter. For the first time in this correspondence, the three virtues of humility, simplicity, and modesty appear as the proper character of the Society, at least in the formula favoured by the brothers.
Text of the Letter
- Dear Brother,
- The little details you give me in your letter about your situation and that of our Brothers in Oceania I find of great interest, for being unable to see them or talk to them as when they were with me, I am only the more desirous of maintaining correspondence with them and hearing news of them frequently.
- You are certainly right, my dear Brother, to desire that all the Brothers and especially those who are sent to the missions should be penetrated with the spirit of the Society, and should already have acquired the habit of the virtues proper to the Little Brothers of Mary, for without that, it would be very difficult to sustain them in their fervour and to overcome the difficulties they encounter in their position and their employment, and even to persevere in their vocation. In fact, the flesh in which we are imprisoned is completely consumed and poisoned with arrogance and pride which give off their noxious vapours without cease, and we have need of many precautions and continual vigilance to prevent our soul from being infected.
- This is why we need to grieve before God at finding in ourselves sentiments so opposed to the spirit of Jesus and Mary and to the holiness of our state. This is why also we ought to invoke this spirit upon ourselves, so that we might be clothed in it, fortified, filled with it within, and so that it shows itself in all our actions. The soul united to Jesus and established in him should live with a great scorn for the devil, the world and the flesh. This is one of the surest means of always obtaining the victory in the endless assaults they make upon us, and which God allows to test our virtue, keep us humble and oblige us to return to him with added fervour. For we should consider temptations as a warning of our slackness and our lack of application in uniting ourselves to Jesus and living with his life, and a spur to piety.
- Strive, then, my dear Brother, to maintain always in you those sentiments of humility, simplicity and modesty which form the proper character of the Society of Mary and put them into practice with regard to God in your acts of piety, with regard to your neighbour in the relations you have with the Fathers, the Brothers, and outsiders, and in your own regard in all that you say and do, and in everything which is for your use. For this, take care to keep yourself constantly united to Jesus Christ and recollected in him, in order that he may impress on you little by little all the sentiments of his life and all his virtues. In this way you will draw them from their true source and their sole principle. Ask this grace through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and St Joseph who were perfect images of Jesus, and who with him lived for thirty years the life hidden and unknown to the world which we ought to propose as a daily model for ourselves.
- I leave you in their loveable company and under their powerful protection.
- Yours truly… F.F.
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