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16 December 1836 – Father Catherin Servant to his parents, Le Havre

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, May 2010

M Servant, at the village of Grézieux-le-Marché, Canton de St Symphorien le Chateau, Rhone below Chazelles

Ingouville (Havre) 15 December 1836

My very dear parents
You thought up to now that I was on the open sea. Today I am about to tell you otherwise. Contrary winds have prevented us leaving, and we are still waiting for a favourable wind; however this morning the wind changed for the better and, if it stays like that, we will leave tomorrow. Already everything is ready in the ship that is to take us to Valparaiso. This ship has done the same voyage several times. It is pretty and especially very clean. It is perfectly suitable for long journeys. Oh, how good it would be if we get as soon as possible to the place that Providence has destined for us! Ask God that it be so, he is the one who is our only portion. He has a quite special concern for us.
In Paris we had a very warm welcome at the Foreign Missions seminary,[1] in Rouen we were greeted with open arms at the major seminary, now, at Le Havre, where we are right now, we are staying with a lady who looks after missionaries going overseas. Since I have been there, there have been two bishops [there] including our own.
There is no need to talk to you about my health. It is better than ever. The good God gives graces in abundance to missionaries. Please God that I correspond with them until I take my last breath! Even if the Lord is asking me to leave you, I am quite filled with consolation and I banish any sadness far from me; when I had nothing left of a worldly nature, if God was with me, that would be enough.
From time to time I am happy to gaze at the sea which we soon will be travelling across. What a wonderful sight it is! I use a telescope in gazing at the sea and it is wonderful to see arriving from all directions ships coming into port under full sail. I wonder from time to time, when would I have the happiness of leaving? When God wills it, that is all that counts. Pray, my dear parents, pray to obtain from God the accomplishment of his will in me. What happiness to have a little share in that cup of bitterness,[2] in that divine cross, the portion of Jesus and of those who follow him. But whatever we do, we have no reason to glorify ourselves in anything, it is not the great visible things which sanctify. God judges the interior of the soul, he doesn’t need our efforts. Besides, we must always see ourselves as useless servants.[3]
I am not saying goodbye to you forever, we will see each other again soon! When it pleases God, that’s all that counts.
I did not say goodbye to you for always, we will be reunited soon ...! As long as it so pleases God, that's all that's required.
I forgot to tell you that in order to avoid any troublesome consequences, I have sent to the superiors of my order documents concerning power of attorney and my will; although I have nothing to claim in the way of temporal things and happily you are imitators of Jesus Christ in poverty, I thought I ought to take this prudent step. [So] you will not be surprised when the Superior of the Society of Mary sends you the documents I am talking about. You know it is wise to put everything in order.
Please kindly offer my respects and love to my uncles and aunts, and to the people I know in Grézieux.
Tomorrow, in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, I will commend you to Jesus and Mary in a very special way.
Please accept my respects, my love, my devotion, with which I am, for life,
My very dear parents,
Your most humble and obedient servant


  1. the seminary of the Paris Foreign Mission Society – MEP - translator’s note
  2. cf Revelation 16:19
  3. cf Luke 17:10 We are only servants, we have done no more than our duty - translator’s note

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