From Marist Studies
Br Pierre-Marie (Pierre Pérénon) to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Kororareka, 20 May 1842
Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, November 2008
- To Father Colin, Superior of the Marist Priests in Lyons
- Kororareka, New Zealand
- 20 May 1842
- Reverend Father
- I am taking advantage of the opportunity given by Father Epalle’s leaving for France to acquit myself of a duty which I have wanted to fulfil for a long time; it is the duty of gratitude which I owe you for having been kind enough to send me in the footsteps of new apostles. Although I felt myself unworthy of this favour, I dared ask for it earnestly for several years, and I was not sorry to have persisted in my requests. Rather, I was really grateful. From the moment when my prayer was granted, I did not doubt that it was to Our Lady of Fourvière and to you, Reverend Father, that I was indebted for it. Although a distance of 7000 leagues separates my body from the holy mountain where I received several graces, I do not give up kneeling in spirit before the altars of her who has obtained them for me. I am very content with my vocation, but am not happy with myself. When I consider my past and present wretchedness, I am ashamed; I am astonished at what the good God wants to use me for in the mission. My past sins and the countless graces I have received from God continually rise about me to accuse me of ingratitude. Alas, Reverend Father, I have made hardly any progress in perfection after having been in religious life for so many years.
- I go to confession every week. Father Garin is our spiritual director. My main faults are: having an excessive curiosity about things that do not concern me, which makes me often fail in charity; not doing my exercises in piety with enough attention; dwelling too much on my spiritual wretchedness; not having enough trust in the God; having discouraging thoughts about everything I can imagine undertaking whether spiritual or temporal. The sight of heresy which surrounds us on all sides is heart-breaking for me. Sometimes I almost desire death so as to no longer be a witness to the evils which afflict the Church. Especially when things do not go as I would like, I allow myself to be depressed. When I confess my sins, I imagine I will no more offend God, but I do not take long to fall back into evil ways; finally I am almost always in an uneasy state of conscience which causes me a lot of suffering. I do the evil thing which I do not want to do, and I do not do the good thing I would like to do. In the midst of my wretchedness and imperfections, I still dare to ask God for the grace of martyrdom with as much confidence as I asked for the grace of coming to the missions. I receive Holy Communion three times a week, and on each occasion I recite five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys, with the intention of obtaining from God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the grace of washing my sins in my blood. My spiritual exercises are not always done with all the attention they deserve. I am not always careful in meditation and in particular examen to make practical resolutions to destroy this or that vice, or to acquire this or that virtue. I find that I am not aware enough of the presence of God; however I usually resort to Jesus and Mary when bad thoughts come to me. I am very much afraid of not being saved; this fear goes with me everywhere yet still I do not correct myself of my faults. I really need Jesus and Mary to have pity on me, I who am so ungrateful to them. However I hope that the Lord will have mercy on me because my sins are so great.
- My tasks are to take care of the chapel and the sacristy, to indicate by the sound of the bell the various exercises during the day – both spiritual and temporal, so supervise for six hours a day about ten English Catholic children who come to school at our place. I give them part of their class work but they know the language much better than I. The rest of the time I put into study. I have just finished my course in philosophy. I am beginning the introduction to theology. I seem to be understanding things fairly well but I have not much ability to express myself in Latin. Father Garin is the one who is teaching me. I do not know whether I will be able to acquire the knowledge necessary for a priest; but in the meantime I am doing my best at the study, after that what the good God wants will come about. However it is certainly true that I would very much like to be a priest so as to consecrate myself to the salvation of so many poor unfortunates who wallow in error for lack of having anyone to pull them out of it.
- The Brothers who are with me at the Procure – that is: Brother Marie Augustin, Brother Emery, Brother Colomb and Brother Basile, very much wanted to write to you to show you their respect and their gratitude, and to tell you that they were very happy; but not being used to express themselves by letter, they did not have the courage to try it. They have made me responsible for telling you the reasons why they had not written to you.
- Reverend Father, we are united in heart and voice in telling you that we have the honour to be your obedient children in Jesus and Mary.
- Brothers Marie Augustin, Emery, Basile, Colomb, Pierre-Marie
- (at the Bay of Islands, Kororareka, 20 May 1842)
- about 35,000 km
- He seems to have Romans 7:19 in mind - translator’s note