From Marist Studies
Jump to: navigation, search

13 Oct 1836 — Colin to departing missionaries, Belley


From the photocopies of the three following documents:

  • minute (M) autographe APM 233.83
  • sent (expedited) (E) in an unidentified hand, with salutation and post-script in the hand of Jean-Claude Colin, conserved in the Auckland Diocesan Archives
  • copy (C) made by Pierre Bataillon, conserved with APM 233.83.

This version is based on M with indications of variants in E and C.

Jan Snijders also translates this letter in A Piety Able to Cope, p. 32.

Bataillon acknowledges reception of this letter in LRO, doc. 2, § 4, and Pompallier in doc. 3, § 3.

Text of the Letter

[p. 4]
[Poupinel’s writing:] 1836 / Advice given to the first missionaries / by reverend father Superior General

[p. 1]
Ad maj(orem) D(ei) glor(iam) et B(eatae) M(ariae) honorem.
Belley, 13th. 8bre 1836.
My dear Brothers[1] in Jesus and Mary.
May the grace and peace of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the protection of Mary our mother be with you and accompany you everywhere.
I must admit that I have a kind of secret envy in seeing you breaking with such righteous courage all the bonds of flesh and blood to follow the voice that calls you and to carry the torch of faith to the peoples of Western Oceania; how can I not participate in[2] your happiness and share [3] your difficulties and[4] your work in order then to have a [5] share in the great reward that Heaven promises you. But alas! my sins make me unworthy of the grace of apostleship and martyrdom. Let me at least offer you some advice that will perhaps prove useful to you and be an additional proof of my tender affection for you.
1. Never count upon yourselves, either in prosperity or in adversity, but rely solely on Jesus and Mary: the more diffident you are in yourselves, and the more confident you are in God, the more light and grace will you draw down upon yourselves. The man who trusts in God alone is steadfast in the midst of the greatest dangers; he is neither rash nor faint-hearted; he says repeatedly: omnia possum facere in eo qui me confortat.[6] Keep in mind[7] always that the success of your mission will be the[8] reward of your faith and confidence in God alone.
2. Never lose sight of the Saviour of the world; you are setting out in His name; it is He who is sending you, sicut misit me pater et ego mitto vos. [9] He will be with you everywhere as He was once with His apostles, He will be with you on your travels, on your voyages, on land, on sea, in calm as in storm; [10] in health as in sickness; if you are hungry or thirsty, He will [p. 2] be hungry or thirsty with you. He will be received in you, personally, He will be persecuted if you are persecuted; He will be rebuffed, if you are rebuffed. See Him in all things, at all times, in all happenings, pleasant or unpleasant, see Him everywhere intimately united with you[11] sharing your labours, your sufferings, your joys and consolations; refer to Him the glory of all your actions, unmindful of self, considering yourselves as useless, worthless instruments: it is in[12] continually thinking of this Divine Saviour that you will find your strength, your peace, and[13] all the knowledge that you require.
3. In persecutions, dangers, privations, sickness, never reason with yourselves, do not retire within yourselves; otherwise you will be beset with sorrows, regrets, melancholy, and you will find your courage and virtue[14] strangely weakening; but cast your eyes and mind immediately on Jesus and Mary, on Heaven, on the sufferings of Our Divine Lord etc. I most strongly recommend to you this practice; you will soon feel its importance.
4. Be men of prayer. To convert a single soul is greater than raising a dead man to life; now such things can be done only through prayer; pray therefore continually for the conversion of your infidels: offer your actions each day for this purpose, and one day a week of your own particular choice, offer up for the same intention and for you personal needs all the good works which will be done in each branch of the Society. This practice will obtain great graces for you.
5. However busy you may be, let no day pass without saying at least some decades of the rosary. Always place each island where you are stationed under the protection of Mary.
6.[15] As far as you can and the circumstances of places allow, be ever simple, modest, poor, but clean in your clothing and your whole exterior, asking each other for the diverse permissions you need when you cannot call upon Monsignor Pompallier.
6.[16] Vae soli has said the Holy Spirit, and it will certainly be the case in Polynesia where loneliness will be fraught with dangers. And so, only unavoidable circumstances will allow you to go out or stay alone. In all other cases, meticulous care must be taken to observe the rule of keeping in pairs at least, should this be merely to go out for a walk. This precaution will shield you from many dangers.
7. [17] Finally, be united in Jesus and Mary; no strife, no arguing among you, obedient to Monsignor Pompallier as to your bishop and[18] your Superior. I renew the advice I gave you, to address all letters that you send to Europe to the Superior of the Society only.
I shall finish this letter where I began,[19] wishing you the peace, the love of J(esus) and Mary; be courageous, do not allow fear, melancholy to enter your hearts; read this letter over and over again, let each one of you take a copy of it. I embrace you all with the tenderest affection, and promise you the assistance of the prayers of the whole Society. Seize every opportunity you find to let us know how you are.
I am and always be
Your most humble and devoted servant
Colin. Sup.
My letter was written in such haste that I beg you to re-write it in your moments of leisure. (M)
I have the honour of being with respect and the tenderest affection,
My very dear brothers,
Your most humble and obedient Colin. Sup.
I know that you will not be able to observe any other rule than the one that circumstances permit you to follow; however I thought that you would be glad to have an excerpt from the constitutions of the Society; I am sending it to you; but remember that far from perfect;
I have run through it again, but have not had the time to write out another copy of it; do not show it to anybody; Monsignor Pompallier or whosoever is designated by him, will hold the place of Superior. Adieu.
To Father Chanel, Bret, Servant and Bataillon priests and missionaries of Western Polynesia, and to the Brothers who are accompanying them.[20]
Copied by my own hand,
Apost(olic) Mis(sionary)
Havre 28th 9bre[21] 1836
Precious souvenir and rule of conduct for ever.[22]


  1. confrères E C
  2. share E C
  3. participate in E C
  4. + in E C
  5. the article is missing in E C
  6. Phil 4:13 "There is nothing I cannot do in the One who strengthens me."
  7. + vous E C
  8. for depend on M
  9. John 20:21 "As the Father sent me, so am I sending you." :
  10. for + if you are M
  11. with E C
  12. supra lineam
  13. missing in E C
  14. supra lineam M
  15. C
  16. 7. E C
  17. 8. E C
  18. + to E C
  19. I began it E C;
  20. Paragraph [13] is absent from M. is in Fr. Colin's handwriting in E and is recopied in C.
  21. perhaps 8bre
  22. Paragraph [14] is found only in C

Previous Letter List of Documents Next letter