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23 January 1842 — Father Michel Borjon to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Maketu, NZ

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, November 2014

Father Colin, Superior, at Lyons, 4 St Barthelemy Rise, France, department of Rhône

A(d) M(ajorem) D(ei) G(loriam) et D(ei) G(enetricis) h(onorem) [To the great glory of God and the honour of the Mother of God]

Very Reverend Father General,
After having given you an account of my mission in a separate letter, according to our rule, it is very consoling for me to pour into your fatherly heart my difficulties and my spiritual and personal consolations. Alas! If I have indeed committed many sins, at least divine grace still reminds me that my growth in religious perfection is the truly important concern for me, and personal sanctity is the foundation of the building I must erect to the glory of Jesus and Mary. My continual desire is to grow in holiness through the solid and basic virtues; through love and the practice of poverty, mortification and humility, virtues of Jesus and Mary, and of all the saints. And as well, I tell myself interiorly, what is the life of a missionary? O love of suffering and humiliations! When will you be sincere and practical in me? I try to profit from this desire by working at humility through personal prayer, particular examen and the direction of the intentions of my prayers. Concerning the religious spirit, I try to maintain and augment it in my house and on my journeys, by doing each morning and in common a half hour of prayer, at midday a quarter hour of examen, and in the evening 20 minutes of spiritual reading and prayer. Confession and spiritual direction roughly every 3 weeks. I have hung up a little bell for the exercises and meals, so as to recall to us the sweet sound of the bells of former communities where we spent such beautiful days. It is in the midst of the missions that we appreciate the advantages of religious houses. That is what grace is striving to bring about in me – what barriers does it encounter in me? A host of distractions in all my prayers, a host of temptations to impatience, a host of anxieties, never about the concerns of the existing situation, always besieged by desires. From time to time I experience temptations of the flesh, and I feel in myself carnal desires[1] which would carry me off to greater disorders if grace did not hold me back and strengthen me. However here I am somewhat used to the nakedness of the people here, which is the normal thing for men and children; the women are at least partly dressed, something I used to very much fear because of my spiritual weaknesses. I have not yet experienced what might be called boredom, at least for a long time. Only a few clouds, short in duration, have sometimes darkened my soul; especially twice, because of the death of sick person who had not been baptised, and a baptism which left me fears over its validity. Some vague desires from another situation[2] have passed through my head, but have gone quickly. We are everywhere well, where God places us, through obedience. I have as a share, one of the most indifferent and most difficult kainga [villages]. I have had my house ransacked in my absence, chiefs against me – what does it matter? I have not yet, like our divine master, resisted to the loss of my blood.[3]
Very Reverend General, with tears in my eyes I cast myself at your paternity’s feet, as a sign of devotion and obedience to your guidance, to beg you to give me your sound advice, and to ask you for the help of your prayers so as to succeed in the great matter of my personal sanctity.
Your most humble and obedient servant,
M(ichel) F(rançois) X(avier) Borjon
Miss(ionary) ap(ostolic)


  1. la loi des membres
  2. d’une autre position
  3. Cf Hebrews 12:4. “In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to fight to the point of death.” - translator’s note