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Father Pézant to Father Girard, Tauranga, 7 May 1842

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM. July 2008

To Reverend Father Girard, novice-master, Lyons

J[esus] M[ary and] J[oseph]

Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, this 7th May, 1842

Very Reverend Father
I received with pleasure your fatherly letter of 21 November 1840, and I am happy today to tell you of my sincere gratitude for all the helpful advice you give me in it. Your advice is so much more important and shows so much more of the interest which you displayed towards your children of former times because, when a man is left on his own, he is greatly at risk of neglecting himself, of slackening in his efforts, when he has virtue no more solid than mine.
I admit, in sorrow, failures I experienced for some time in the matter of prayer, on my own account and on that of others; once we had got over seasickness, and even for some time before leaving we were regular enough, especially taking our situation into account; but it was already too bad that we had neglected our spiritual exercises for two or three weeks, and I am afraid that that circumstance may have been the source of poor Brother Amon’s laxity. Here, thanks be to God, we run little risk of omitting our exercises, especially personal prayer and particular examen: we even do everything in common with the Brother; and when sometimes (which is rare) difficulties, journeys necessarily part of a mission being born, force a hasty morning departure, I do the meditation on the way, in the open as you say, during the day or even in the evening.
I am happy to be situated between Father Séon and Father Borjon; these so fervent confrères challenge my slackness somewhat; I can see either of them here or at home every month. Having been forced quite recently to get together to combat heresy, circumstances constrained us to stay together for three weeks. During that time we together refuted the main objections which the Protestants typically make, and we developed the custom of making our spiritual exercises in common. This get-together, which we pleasantly styled the synod of Matamata (Father Séon’s mission) at once consoled us and very much benefited us. So you see, we are not totally left to ourselves, although we are a bit. We have a common rule, which we can usually observe, because we are often in a stable situation long enough to be able to regulate ourselves. It seems to me that the spiritual dangers of ministry [here] are less than in Europe.
God has done me the kindness of freeing me from those truly harsh difficulties arising from everything that nature must abandon in coming here. You also get used to this life, monotonous and free of religious feelings as it is. Here it is purely faith which keeps you going. At the start there is suffering, as I had already found in France, but then you get used to everything.
Please forgive me for the problems I have caused you, I now really see how illusory was all that sort of thing; I listened to nature, I abused the graces of the novitiate for lack of obedience. I am really ashamed when I think about the things I let myself be bothered about, concerning you and concerning what I had left behind in the world.
I am happy here because I believe God wants me to be here; the great difficulty we all experience is heresy which does so much harm to peoples who are so childlike; it has the advantage over us of seniority and every human resource; but we have truth on our side and we speak in the name of Jesus and Mary. Speak urgently to this good mother that she help us to crush heresy, her enemy; it is she who has always overcome it. May our Brothers in the novitiate not forget, at the feet of the Mother of God, their brothers who are fighting in the Antipodes for her glory and that of her Divine Son.
I remain, in their sacred hearts,
very Reverend and dear Father,
your very humble, very submissive and very grateful servant and son
J Pézant
Missionary apostolic and priest of the S.M.
I beg you, ask for me all the virtues that form apostles, for I must be one, and especially that scorn for myself which you have told me about and which I so really need, so as to bring God’s blessings on myself and on this poor people.