From Marist Studies
4 August 1840. – Father Catherin Servant to his relatives, Hokianga
Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, February-March 2012
- M Jean-Antoine Servant, in the village of Grézieu-le-Marché, canton of St Symphorien le Chateau, department of Rhone, France
- Hokianga 4 August 1840
- My very dear relatives
- May the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you! All the letters you have sent me have got to me. They really delighted me. I bless God over and over again for the precious memories of me which you keep in mind every day, for the prayers you offer each day for my sanctification, for my soul’s rest in blessed eternity. I see all the good wishes you make on my behalf as the result of your great charity. The gift you are sending me makes me really happy. It is the sign of the affection you have always had for me. Oh! Dear relatives! In return for all your loving concern I promise to faithfully think of you before God more and more. May I in a spirit of gratitude, obtain through my prayers that you all have the happiness of going, one day, to heaven. Ah, yes! Let us think of us all seeing each other one day in heaven, of us all meeting in the abode of glory. Down here we are in a place of trials, separation and crosses, but all those things are the way of gaining eternal life. Ah! Let us rejoice, dear relatives, in thinking of that crown that God has promised to those who have faithfully served him. Your dear son still loves you very tenderly. Oh! If you knew how many times he commends you to our Divine Saviour. Continue to cherish him in God, this son whom you never forget! Recall what I said to you before I left, that my absence would be more of a blessing to you than my presence because God does not fail to bless families that sacrifice their children for his glory and the salvation of souls.
- Dear relatives, I am still in this New Zealand. I still enjoy very good health. But recently I have experienced some pain in my feet in travelling round this part of New Zealand, but this pain has almost disappeared. The home I have in the Hokianga with a priest and a Brother is peaceful and happy. I make no delay in travelling among the natives to instruct them. Already about 120 have been baptised in this mission station alone without mentioning other natives who have been baptised in four other missions which have been set up in this same island. There is no danger involved in living among the natives; these poor natives have not choice dishes to give me for food, but I am fairly well used to their diet. A little native, baptised with the name of Nicolas, and who is very attached to me, takes a lot of interest in my health and often tells me that you have to eat in order to live. I would be very pleased to tell you these little details which could delight you, but the night is already well advanced, and at dawn tomorrow my letter must go. So I am leaving these details till I have other opportunities to write to you.
- But before finishing I have something to say to each of you.
- My well-beloved father! I am very pleased that you are in good health. I hope you remain in it, good health, for a long time. Right now, what are you doing? You no longer have your son, but you often think of him. I am sure of that; I am certain that you have worthwhile thoughts for the good of your soul.
- And you, my good mother! You probably have some ill health to put up with. You are carrying your cross, following the example of our divine master. Your beloved son is very happy. He loves you very much in God. Redouble your efforts to pray for him.
- Dear Françoise! How good you are to live with our dear father and mother. I am sure you will be very concerned to help them. So always do everything you can to console them in their temporal and spiritual needs. I will always be grateful to you for that. Do not forget to pray for me every day.
- Dear Jeannette! I am very much indebted to you for the love you bear for me. Always be sure that this love is reciprocated. I have already asked God that you sanctify yourself in the married state, and that you may live in great love with your husband, that you may attract to yourself and to him God’s blessings.
- Monsieur Séon! So you have now become my brother. I am very happy about that; the kind letter you sent me proves that you are very much attracted to our holy religion. I truly wish that your wife makes you happy in this world and in the next.
- So then! Dear relatives, let us love God before everything else. In completing this letter I give my blessing to all of you.
- May the peace of Lour Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
- Mis(sionary) apost(olic)
- Fleury Séon, Jeannette’s husband; the author will send him letters in 1851 and 1853 (cf Docs 1100, 1252, 1275)
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