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Br Francois to Br Jacques Peloux, St Genis Laval, 17 January 1859

LFF 2: 327-328

Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS


Jacques was in Apia at the time this letter reached him. His own letter to Francois has not survived, but the church whose dedication he described was probably the one at Sataua which Lucien and he built for Ducrettet at the beginning of the previous year (rf Introduction to L 121). Francois’ letter did not reach him until January 1860, by which time Servant had been forced to leave Samoa for health reasons (rf L 148). In fact, he died on Futuna on 8 January, but the news had obviously not reached Apia when Jacques penned his reply.

Text of the Letter

Dear Brother,
If you keep a precious memory of the days you spent with us at Our Lady of the Hermitage, we remember for our part with pleasure the examples of piety, modesty, docility, and zeal for work you constantly gave the Brothers and which all who knew you shall never forget. It is with happiness too that I hear of all you have done in the missions and the services you rend the Fathers and the natives. It was with much interest I read your beautiful description of the dedication of the church you have built, and with you I rejoice in the progress of the Gospel in those distant islands. We all take a very sympathetic interest in the matter.
I wish you, my dear Brother, a year abundant and fruitful in all sorts of good and the fruits of salvation, a year followed by many others full of good works, spent in the grace and peace of the Holy Spirit, all burning with the fire of the love of God and of neighbour, so that your soul may shine in the eyes of God like gold which has passed through the crucible. Oh, how I wish that this sacred fire Our Lord came to light on the earth would set all hearts ablaze! [cf Lk 12: 49] What beautiful effects, what a happy transformation, it would bring about, for as one knows when fire takes hold of wood or some other matter, that the entire substance, constitution, operations, and dispositions of the thing on fire are completely different from what they were before, and that they change into those of fire itself. So a heart offensive, coarse, earthly, a soul attached to worldly goods, esteem, pleasures, worldly honours, once animated by divine love and filled with the Holy Spirit, loses all its bad qualities and evil dispositions, and changes in some way into the nature of this divine fire which enflames and consumes it.
This is what Our Lord claims and desires to do principally in the most holy sacrament of the altar. For, being himself all love, all charity, when he enters into us and mingles, so to speak, with our own substance, he brings the fire himself and sets our hearts aflame, and in this way he changes and transforms us into himself. He drives out whatever is corrupt and consumes our coarse and imperfect qualities in his holy and divine qualities.
Oh, how the world loses, how senseless it is to find amusement as it does in the love, the pursuit of worldly goods and the vanity of this life, instead of giving its heart to God and directing all its affections towards him! This divine fire would make of the earth a paradise if it deeply penetrated every heart, for that is what makes the joy and happiness of the angels and saints in heaven. Let us long for this happiness and do our utmost to procure it for all men by every means possible. Let us ask Jesus and Mary for this precious favour; they are entirely burning with love and penetrated with this fire which makes them, so to speak, the same thing, being made completely one, according to the expression of the Saviour, who desires we be all the same [Jn 18: 23]. Mary is completely clothed with the sun [rf Rev 12: 1] which Jesus is, in such a way that she no more appears as herself, so to speak, but as she is transformed in him. Let us be faithful in so uniting ourselves and losing ourselves in Jesus in time, that we may be united to him and share in his glory in eternity.
Present my respects, my best wishes for the New Year, and my affectionate regards to Fr Dubreuil and Fr Servant. We always remember with joy the happy time and the beautiful days we spent at the Hermitage with Fr Servant, and the holy and pious meditations he gave us alternating with Fr Champagnat. But what extraordinary events have taken place since!

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