Br Francois to Br Charise, St Genis Laval, 17 January 1859
LFF 2: 328-329
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
Charise was always frank in revealing the state of his soul to his superiors (rf.eg. L 119), and so Francois is probably speaking here to matters raised by the brother in his letter, which has not survived. He was probably stationed in Apia during 1859, though Ptolomee mentions meeting him in Fiji in August (L 150).
Text of the Letter
- Dear Brother,
- Since the letters and the circulars do you so much good and give you such satisfaction, I will endeavour from time to time…, and on your part, you will continue to write to us quite often in order to maintain these relations of charity and fraternal union, so agreeable and advantageous.
- A religious should then never be worried or troubled about the position God has placed him in, nor the employment entrusted to him. He can always do much good in everything and everywhere, if he does everything asked of him, and if he does it with a view to God and for his love. You know that Saint Alphonse Rodriguez, Saint Louis de Gonzaga and Saint Teresa converted as many and even more souls than the missionaries without leaving their retreat, and by going about their ordinary activities.
- For that, my dear Brother, ask often for and strive to acquire the great gift of the fear of God. I mean that filial fear, that fear which animates his children and inspires in them a profound respect for their Father’s majesty; that fear which gives them a total submission to his will, an entire dependence on his orders, a prompt obedience to his laws, and a perfect docility to his voice and his inspiration; that fear, finally, which according to the language of Holy Scripture, is the happiness and glory of the one who possesses it and which causes him to overcome all other fear [ cf Ps 112: 1,2,8]. Ask also for cordiality, simplicity and charity towards your neighbour, the Fathers, the Brothers, and everyone, loving them, serving them and helping them as your real Brothers, since we all have a single Father and a single Mother, and Our Lord regards as done to himself anything done for the least of his brethren [Matt 25: 40]. Ponder often all that this divine Saviour has done and suffered for the salvation of all people without exception, how he spent his life in humiliations, in poverty, and in the utmost contempt to satisfy God his Father, by carrying on his own shoulders all the penalties due to sin.
- I know, my dear Brother, that you have had a lot to suffer, but if you are well convinced of this maxim that abstinence is for this life and enjoyment for the other, that the passing sufferings of this world are the seeds of eternal happiness, far from fearing and dreading occasions for suffering and self-mortification, you would long for the cross, and your joy will be to find yourself having to endure many things for God. So nothing will appear to you (difficult) more beautiful than poverty, nothing more loveable than contempt, nothing more precious than suffering and, in those dispositions, you will say wholeheartedly with Saint Paul that you wish no other glory nor any other inheritance in this life than the cross of Jesus Christ, by which you are crucified to the world and the world is crucified to you. [Gal 6: 14] There you have the state and dispositions of true religious who, having engaged themselves by their profession to follow Jesus Christ more perfectly, must, like him, live here below abstaining from the vanities of this world and moderate in their use of the necessities. Holy moderation which always brings with it the love and even the desire of being deprived of them, according to God’s good pleasure. Oh! How happy is the soul which has reached this point of purity, holiness, and universal detachment, to be thus attached to God alone and to bear for him with all sorts of pains and privations!
- If you find yourself in this happy state, my dear Brother, recognize the Lord’s great mercy for you, adore his goodness, abandon yourself to his love, and tell him a thousand times that you wish to live only for him, to love him, to serve him in the state and the position in which it pleases him to place you. In a word, to sacrifice yourself entirely to him in every way he desires for his greater glory.
- The circular I am sending will give you some interesting details about my trip to Rome and about the Society. I renew all my sentiments of affection and I embrace you very cordially in the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary, in union of prayers and works.
- Your…. F.F.
- inserted here in brackets as if the writer were going to say one thing and then continued in a different vein.
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