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Breheret to Colin 23 January 1850 (Girard 867)

23 January 1850 — Father Jean-Baptiste Bréhéret to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Lakeba, Fiji

Translated from the French by Fr John Crispin SM, in The Mission of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows: The letters and journal of the Marist Priests in Lakeba, Lau, Fiji, 1844 to 1855, Suva, 2015

Based on the document sent, APM OF 208 (Fiji) Bréhéret. A sheet forming four pages, with three written on and the fourth carrying the address. The author wrote another letter to Colin on 2 July 1850 in which he repeats part of what is written below.

[p. 4] [Address] 
To Rev. Colin, Superior of the Society of Mary, at Lyon / Montée S(ain)t Barthélemy nº 4.
[p. 1] 
J(esus) M(ary) J(oseph)
23 January 1850

Very Reverend Father
You share in our sufferings, as we also share in yours, which we know are very great. Without doubt we have our sufferings, but then who doesn’t? I have heard it said for a long time that to be happy we have to look at those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Alas we don’t have to go far to find poor wretched people for whom we feel sorry.
My health is keeping up very well, only I sweat a lot; my legs are cured, I am getting bald. Everyone takes me for an old man of 80.
As you well know, father, here more than other places the flesh rebels against the spirit, we receive wounds which need healing, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I am here in the empire of Satan. I have to war against him and I often remember the words of St. Peter, “Sobrii estote...,” which we say every evening at compline. I need to put a bit more order into my spiritual exercises. It is very easy to forget, as I do. The religious spirit suffers from it, it vanishes from continual distractions. I sometimes have moments of melancholy, of sadness, of uneven temperament, but these do not last. The difficulties of ministry here sometimes frighten me, too, for here we are in a truly ugly Babylon. I will not speak of the mission, that is for the superior to do.
Peace has been kept reasonably well (in community) during the year, for which I thank God and the blessed virgin. My superior has taken a lot upon himself for that, and brother has also made an effort. He has good qualities, the desire to do well, he has zeal, and he prays a lot. He is hot-headed, touchy, he likes to command, he has a shrewd spirit and it is not easy for him to overcome it. When we arrived here he was full of prejudices against the superior; he chose me as his confessor and monitor. I have tried to maintain the peace between two characters who don’t seem to be made for each other.
Reverend Father, I need to commend the mission in Fiji to you, it has a great need of prayers. I also think, reverend father, that the Fiji mission needs a vicar apostolic. Plenty of reasons indicate that. In spite of all the good will, the zeal, the talents that the bishop has, how will he be able to do everything? Here heresy is spreading everywhere: ministers, hundreds of catechists, a printery, warships, all are in place. The bishop already has so many different languages or dialects in the rest of his vicariate. What will become of Fiji where there are dialects so different that a person from one cannot understand someone from another? I simply tell you my thoughts for the glory of God; after that, may his will be done.
I end, reverend father, by commending myself to your prayers and those of the whole society.
I am, with all respect,
Very reverend father,
Your devoted and unworthy son in J(esus) and M(ary).
J Breheret, Apostolic Missionary.