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Br Charise to Br Francois, Upolu, Samoa, 14 July 1860

LO 92


This letter is primarily an account of conscience, but is also interesting in showing the importance Charise attached to his work as catechist. Certainly of the three brothers who had already spent some time in Samoa, viz. Jacques, Lucien, and himself, he was the only one to spend a good part of his time catechizing [2]. Even Abraham, who had started teaching almost as soon as he arrived in Apia (cf L 145) was now doing other work. At the beginning of the year he had come to Falefa with Gavet to help him set up house. The Samoans had made a mess of it and they tried to set it in order (Gavet’s Journal, APM).

This letter is on pages 112 to 114 of Cahier 2 in the AFM.

Text of the Letter

Very Reverend Br Superior,
I had the great pleasure of receiving a letter from you only a few months ago. I hasten to give you some news, as you desire. Opportunities are rare, especially when one is far from the port, and good opportunities for writing are often wanting.
I haven’t written to you for about 6 months. There wasn’t much of interest in my last letter. My health is very much the same. Hot countries cause many humours which give rise to a general lassitude and sap one’s strength, especially in cases of a sanguine temperament like mine. I am not strong, nor very energetic, which means I am not very pleased to be employed on temporal work but very much so on spiritual. I really like taking catechism with these poor savages and I am almost the only Brother who has spent a lot of time in catechizing.
Almost every Sunday I take the prayers and a little catechism in some parish where the priest cannot do it. I am quite happy in my vocation, thanks to the good God. The only thing in the 10 years I have been on the mission that has caused me pain is to hear the priests occasionally telling people that we are their servants, putting us on the same level as the natives who serve them, who are still savages and sometimes not even baptized or catechumens.
A little while ago I was reading the life of our venerable Father Founder which dear Br Abraham had loaned me, and I saw that the good Father had told a Brother that the thing that gave him most trouble would give him most joy at the moment of death, if he had borne it with patience and resignation.
Nature can sometimes be very weak. If one is not firmly attached to Our Lord and his holy Mother to strengthen us in the difficulties the Brothers have to put up with, one would quickly become discouraged.
My ejaculatory prayers are always the same ones, that is, “Have pity on me, O very sacred heart of Jesus,” the Memorare, and “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, have pity on me”, repeated over and over.
My subject of meditation is almost always death. There is another: Religious should seek to please God and be loved by him as much as worldly people seek to please the world and be esteemed by it.
Now I have the consolation of being near Br Abraham, we can see each other from time to time and have a chat about our good Brothers in Europe we have left (and) who love us so much. I think that for their part they pray for us and keep us in mind.
From time to time I also have the sweet joy of hearing news of those on other islands. The day will come when we have the joy of seeing one another united around our good Mother in heaven.
I am with deep respect and sincere affection, my very reverend Br Superior,
Your very humble and devoted servant,
Br Charise

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