- 1 Constitutions Project
Fr Craig Larkin SM has been asked by the General Administration to prepare material on the Constitutions of the Society of Mary. He plans to do it through stories and extracts from the LRO which illustrate the Marist spirit.
This page and the links from it are set up as a "collection point" for suggestions. If you find a good story, good phrase or something memorable in any of the letters or documents on the site, please put a link to it, or note about it below.
Bishop Douarre, his style, his crest and his motto
I like the way Bishop Douarre styles himself as "your little bishop" in doc 460 his letter to a benefactress. His crest of a little boat being tossed on a stormy sea, and the motto of "Save us we are perishing" is revealing of his character (and sense of humour?). In doc 457 Verguet talks of drawings he made of Bishop Douarre's house, do we have those? There is also this paragraph about him in Girard0452
- Having no material resources, we set about securing our food by the sweat of our brow. Monseigneur Douarre set aside his bishop’s insignia; first, he gave us the example of work like other virtues, from that moment and right up till this day, he forgot that he was a bishop so that he could mix with the brothers, or rather he remembered that he had the burden of the bishopric; father in time of need, he wanted to secure a few morsels of bread for his hungry children. From that moment, nothing was any trouble to him, the most difficult and most humiliating work were his share. The episcopate has some glory about it in the outside world, that is in our civilized lands, but in the missions, especially those just setting up, the title has about it dedication and generosity of spirit which accepts this heavy mitre. One has to have been in the missions fully to understand what I have said and what I am not saying.
When the going got extraordinarily tough in New Caledonia he recounts (in a doc not in LRO) that he made this offer to his priests:
- However much difficulty I have in parting from them, I had suggested to these good missionaries that they go and work either in Monsignor Bataillon’s curacy, or in the diocese of Monsignor Viard, not one of them wished to part from me and they are awaiting for a decision from Rome and Father Superior.
Paragraph from Pierre Rougeryon
In Girard0452 there is this great paragraph:
- When the time arranged for the departure arrived, the lighter Bucephale set sail and left the port of Ballade, taking leave of Monseigneur with seven cannon shots. Thrown onto wild shores, among a foreign people, the only whites in a large island 80 leagues long and 20 wide, without help what was going to become of us after the departure of the protecting ship, what fate was in store for us? If I hadn’t been a missionary, and a Marist missionary at that, I would have let myself become discouraged, but at this very moment, Mary rekindled our faith, and our life’s sacrifice was renewed. However, oh human weakness! huge tears flowed in my eyes when I saw the masts of our mother country’s ship disappear over the horizon. At 7,000 leagues from France, one still loves France and all that reminds one of France.
Article 6 the meaning of the Society's name
- The vessel that is going to carry us as far as Valparaiso is called the “Delphine”. I have been looking forward to it for so long. Already I have made preparations for departure in the little room assigned to me. When will this departure we have been waiting for so long take place? When the good God wills. The accomplishment of his will - that is the one thing necessary. Still, I think we will be leaving soon, a good north-easterly wind has come to tell us we must hold ourselves ready for departure. If it keeps up we will certainly take advantage of the opportunity. When that happy moment arrives I will invoke Mary's name with joy. The Star of the Sea, the hope of mariners, will, I trust, guide and protect us.
- It is with pleasure I recall my name is written in the heart of Our Lady of the Hermitage. This circumstance will enable me to unite my intentions with the good works you perform so as to keep alive our affection for one another. We will be able at any time to contemplate in spirit the heart of our good Mother.
Another such line from Servant in Clisby016:
- Now and then I have the opportunity to visit the sick natives in their villages and bring them the help of our holy religion by instructing them and preparing them for baptism. I never forget to give at least one person in each village the name of Mary.
Perhaps more directly about the Society of Mary, this from Louis-Maxime Petit in Girard0415:
- It was with a truly perceptible pleasure that I learnt about the great progress being made by the various branches of the Society of Mary. Only a few years ago it was just like a grain of mustard seed and here is, already, a tree that puts out its branches on all sides. The rapid progress made by the Society give me great hopes for the islands of Oceania, too many of which are infested with heresy, which is worse in one sense than paganism; but, I am certain, Mary, through the means of the Society which is glorified by belonging to her in a quite special way, will prove to the world that the Church does not sing in vain: Gaude, Maria, cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo.
- If Mary did not triumph, in Oceania, over the demon of heresy, this praise which the Church addresses to Mary would no longer be true in its full meaning; so this praise, which is, for the other parts of the world, the statement of a fact, is, in the context of the islands of Oceania, a prophecy. The Blessed Virgin has already shown her power there, and there is every reason to hope that her victory will be all the more complete to the degree that her enemies put more fury into attacking her cult.
Article 13 & Br Germanique
- 13. Guided by the Gospel, the doctrine of the Church, and the insghts of Father Colin on education, they devote themselves to all forms of education, especially among the young.
Germanique was the first brother sent out to the missions specifically to teach. In Clisby142 he writes:
- I was preoccupied with many thoughts during the day I spent alone among the savages. I saw around me old men come almost to the end of their days without having known the good God who gave them existence; children scarcely started on life’s path, left to themselves, deprived of Christian and civilized education. I compared the lot of these poor children to that enjoyed by those attending our schools in France, and I was moved by the unfortunate state of these poor little creatures.
Receiving Fraternal Correction
Girard0399 Paragraph 2, Antoine Dubreul
- Our dear colleagues have sent me our letters and the rule of the provincial to the foreign mission stations. Your good advice and your forgiveness for my failings will bolster me in the midst of difficulties which we have our share of here. Even your reprimands will always be received with all the submission and gratitude that I have promised you and that I renew from the bottom of my heart. Therefore, very Reverend Father, don’t fail a single occasion to send me this help, for your letters do me such good I will relate to you all the failings that I discover in my behaviour and I will pray to god to make you know the others. Ask Jesus and Mary for my sake the blessing of having with you a great sincerity of heart. I regard that quality as one of the most essential for a missionary religious who lives far from his superiors.
First Marist to Die of Leprosy
- There is in the General Archives a photo labelled "IL PADRE XAVIER NICOLEAU sm CAPELLANO AL LEBBROSARIO DI MAGOKAI E PRIMO MARISTA MORTO DI LEBBRA". I take from that that he is Fr Xavier Nicoleau, that he was a chaplain to the leper colony on Molokai, and that he was the first Marist to die of leprosy.
The Rule about Community Life
The paragraph below is from Girard0569 written by Mugniéry, who I suspect of being inclined to play one authority off against the other.
- Very Reverend Father, the isolation in which I found Father Roudaire and Father Violette makes me think that in Oceania, people don’t understand as they do in Lyons the passage of our rules which states that we should always be in pairs, and I predict that I will have arguments on that score, because it would be a question of putting me eight leagues away from Father Violette and besides the pathways are very difficult. Here it is asserted that the regulation is incompatible with the needs of the mission station. Dare I, Reverend Father, beg you to tell me, when you grant me the honour of writing to me what importance and what scope should be given to that regulation, how far is the priest required to go and how far has he the right to resist the tendency to isolation? What can he do and what should he do? Pardon me, Reverend Father, these questions which might be indiscrete, but I am frightened of being led astray in remembering how many times you recommended adhering to that regulation.
The Word for Love
Fr Xavier Montrouzier on the difficulties of the Mission Girard0644
- They now understood a little of the language, which had presented endless difficulties occasioned by trying to communicate only by signs. That was an enormous step forward, as you cannot imagine how difficult it is to extract words from the savages once one has used up those that apply to material objects. So although we have been here nearly two years, we have not yet been able to learn the word for “love”.
And commenting on the living of the Rule:
- That was when we found out the sufferings that these worthy missionaries had endured, that they had all suffered from fever, that at times they had almost all been confined to bed and to top off their misfortunes they were short of morphine. But what greatly impressed me and gave me real pleasure was that this did not prevent them from carrying out all the Society’s practices. Meditation, special studies, spiritual readings, rosaries, prayers and when possible repentance and a month’s retreat, everything was as well organised as in the mother house in Lyon, so that, even though the mission was not fully functional we had the consolation of finding the organisation in good shape. Pray God that this spirit of order continues for us, because our sanctification depends on it, as you will understand and the success of our ministry depends on our sanctification.