From Marist Studies
17 July and 11 August 1854 - Father Joseph-André Chevron to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Tonga
Translated by Sr Marie Challacombe SM, July 2015
- To Very Reverend Father Colin Superior General of the Society of Mary, Montée S(aint) Barthélemy, Lyon
- J(esus) M(ary) J(oseph)
- Tonga 17 July 1854
- Very Reverend Father,
- At the beginning of this month we received a visit from Reverend Father Padel, sent by Bishop Bataillon. He brought us a trunk containing some clothes and vestments (2 chasubles, 2 copes and a stole); but we looked in vain for a letter which for several years we have been hoping for. With Our Lord on the Cross are we not allowed to say to you, Reverend Father, why have you abandoned us? But in this as with everything else may God’s holy will be done. One thing however consoles me, after thinking about God’s will, is the prayer that you must still offer to sustain us, since you do not give us the help of your fatherly advice. I feel now how much an advantage a novitiate of several years in France would have been for me before entering the Society. How poor and lacking I am in religious instruction! I am conscious now that the forced rapidity of my departure deprived me of both advice and good example! But it is too late now to hope that one day this lack which leaves me so far behind in religious spirit could be fulfilled. There is only one thing left to me, and that is to urge you, Reverend Father, not to delay any longer in sending us your advice, and to recommend me especially to the prayers of our fervent fathers, so as to obtain for me a little bit of that religious spirit which consoles you in them, and which raises in me the desire to imitate them.
- I began a long time ago a letter to my parents in which I gave some details of our position here. I won’t tire you now repeating details which you have read. I would just add that for some time now there have been a good number of conversions from Protestantism to Catholicism, especially among the sick. For a good number of them the principal reason for their conversion is the hope of getting medicine from us, for others it is a pretext which puts them out of the way of their relatives, because, strangely enough, nearly all the neophytes who abandoned us after the sack of Pea declare even in the presence of the protestants that they are continually tormented by the thought of not being saved. Which the protestants cannot understand, since for them religion is not a matter of conviction but a temporal affair. And I had never appreciated either the prodigious change that baptism can effect in the soul of the one who receives it.
- Reverend Father Piéplou and Brother Jean Raymond will give you their news themselves. But I can say that they are both well. With regard to spirituality, the reverend father has not only not lost the religious spirit that you knew in him in France, but in him it seems to grow every day. As for the brother, he is still well.
- I recently read in a theological dictionary (Migne edition) that to gain the indulgences attached to a blest crucifix, on behalf of those who cannot make the stations of the cross, one has to move to each station while reciting the prayers. Bouvier doesn’t mention this condition. Would it be possible to know exactly what to hold about this?
- (August 11) There is a boat about to depart today. I shall send you these letters at once; perhaps they will arrive fairly soon. May I dare to ask you to remember me to the reverend fathers and especially for the prayers I need so much.
- With my most profound respect I remain, Very Reverend Father, your very humble servant,
- J(oseph) Chevron
- Some time ago we found the letter I am sending you in the trunk of Father Nivelleau.
- Dictionnaire de théologie dogmatique by Nicolas-Sylvestre Bergier, published by Migne.(cf. Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, t.10,col.1729)
- Jean-Baptiste Bouvier (1783-1854), bishop of Mans, theologian, author of institutions theologiae,which underwent fifteen edittions between 1834 and 1880. (cf. Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, t.2, col.1117-1119)