Girard0156

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Fr Michel Borjon to Fr Jean Claude Colin, Maketu, 15 May 1842

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, August-September 2008

Maketu 15 May 1842
Very Reverend Father General
[1]
I will not speak to you about my mission. My letters containing details[1] are addressed: one to Father Lagniet [2] and the other to Father Girard, my parish priest.[3] You must have a pretty exact idea of my situation as a missionary from my January letter.[4] So I will only speak to you about my interior state. As I come to understand my situation better, and am better able to reconcile, with discernment, my duties as a missionary and a religious, I am trying to live as a religious by observing my Rule and my Marist obligations more faithfully. Beginning a mission is always difficult, and so it is hard not to let oneself yield to worries, anxieties and difficulties. A host of small things seems to get in the way of a regular life which, however, can be observed in the midst of apostolic journeys when you are a bit used to it, and when you have learnt to keep things in perspective. What slows up this progress towards exactness is change in situation; the missionary is a real wandering Jew; sometimes here, sometimes there, and it is [p191] certain that he has to do himself violence if he is not to lose the thread of his spiritual life amongst a thousand distracting concerns. But what consoles me is that I see that I can, very well, live as a good religious in the very midst of the demands of the apostolate. My current aim in my interior life is to acquire humility. This basic virtue, this solid rock on which the spiritual structure of the true Marist must be founded, this is the object of my resolutions, my prayers and my meditations. My situation is not in itself very dangerous, I am only five or six leagues[5] from Father Pézant [6] and we can see each other at least every month. So I have nothing to be afraid of but myself, that terrible enemy. Help me, Reverend Father, help me with your prayers and your wise advice. I also have to struggle against the coldness of the people among whom I usually live, and their ingratitude. Oh! What a harvest of merit! But, as well, the fervour of other people, the victories over heresy: oh, how encouraging that is. Place me often in the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary, my people and myself, so that we can all live in the pure love of God in time and in eternity. Please also commend me and my people to the prayers of our fervent French communities; I do not forget them; me especially on Wednesdays when there is prayer in common for the conversion of the pagans among whom we live. I do not feel zealous enough for the conversion of the souls entrusted to me.
[2]
You very strongly recommended us to be always two [together]. Alas, I am a priest on my own, and very often alone with the natives. But that is the will of my Bishop. What is to be done? The harvest is ripe, the enemy is pressing, laying waste. Send, send us priests to save a people so desperate for the Gospel.
[3]
Farewell, Very Reverend Father General: in the holy hearts of Jesus and Mary
Your totally devoted and submission son
Michel Borjon
Missionary apostolic
[4] In the margin and across the page
PS Here is the abstract of the sacraments administered in my mission: 92 baptisms of which 9 were adults, 5 confirmations, w Catholic marriages. At the beginning sick adults were almost the only people baptised.

Notes

  1. About the mission, he seems to imply - translator’s note
  2. Written in the original as "Lagnier"
  3. The letter to Bernard Lagniet is certainly the one dated a day after this one [cf Girard0158, and f/n 1]. The other letter begun by Borjon on 15 May is addressed to Claude Girard [cf introduction to Girard0157. If Borjon wrote to his parish priest, also named Girard, the letter is not in APM in Rome.
  4. Girard0129
  5. 24 or 30 km
  6. The text reads “Paysant”