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Fr Garin to Fr Tripe, Kororareka, 18 October 1842

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, June 2005

APM Z208 18 October 1842

Kororareka, 18 October 1842
To Reverend Father Tripe
Very Reverend and dear Father
Your letter of the second of August 1842 did not get to me until the end of September, and since that time I have not had a chance to send you a reply. Today I have just been told that a ship is leaving for Nickolson.[1] So I am hastening to write some words to you. On learning about the spiritual difficulties you have been subject to, my soul was itself strongly afflicted. Certainly you had already enough bodily suffering, (and) cares involved in the ministry to test the missionary’s patience, but, may God be praised in all His plans; we know his judgments are impenetrable, and that very often He is please to make us go through the crucible of trials, whether to test our virtue, or to punish us for our mistakes. From whatever direction harm comes, God often allows all His creatures to become for us his instruments of justice, so let us bless this hand which strikes us, and let us say with His servant, Job: Deus dedit, Deus abstulit, sit nomen ejus benedictum[2] and let us add with him: Etiamsi occiderit me in ipso sperabo. [3] But so that this confidence may be [word indistinct] let us say with sorrow that we have offended this three times holy God by imitating the publican and recognising ourselves to be sinners: Deus propitius est mihi peccatori. [4] [p2]
It is under the influence of these troubles that you have made the decision to ask for your return to France; it is at least one of the main reasons, for although your desire to go among the natives[5] or to the tropics has not yet been granted, there is still time to satisfy you on this point. That is what would lead me to fear that your motives would [? Word obscured] not truly be according to the heart of God. Indeed the troubles, the worries, the contradictions, the [word obscured] the [word obscured] the appearances[6] are [four or five obscured words], and in leaving our homeland we had foreseen all that. So would it be necessary, after having lifted the Saviour’s chalice to your lips, to remove it so soon after having [two words obscured] it? I do not claim, however, to establish that these are [two or three obscured words] sometimes sufficient, but I only want to help you to think over before the good God what the gospel tells us about the sufferings and miseries of this life, which we must try to bear with patience and resignation, especially we ministers of J[esus] C[hrist] and successors of the Apostles. I would like to have you consider that when it is a matter of journeys which have cost the [Society for the] Propagation [of the Faith] and the faithful of Europe so much, there have to be really major reasons to make a decision of this sort. You say that your health is at risk: here no doubt is a very important consideration, but if you have to reproach yourself for mistakes [two ? obscured words] bemoan them before God. If you are in danger at this time, you can still sustain yourself easily by watching over yourself, and not keeping company with people who could be fore you an occasion of conversations little suited to obedience and your position, and a few months from now we will have an opportunity either to see you, or to give you a confrère, or to receive news from France concerning your requests. In the meantime, dear Father, pray a lot, pray a lot. I when one thinks[?][7] of coming to the missions, one prays and gets others to pray a lot, (and) one consults the Lord through mediation and mortification, I believe it can be said with very much greater reason that one must pray, get others to pray and [word partly obscured – beg?] the Lord when one is thinking of leaving the missions, when one has come according to the advice of his directors and after having [p3] prayed a lot to God. I see this advice as very important and worthwhile for you to meditate on. Concerning the affection which you cannot have, you say, for your… I ask you, where does this hardship come from? If this man’s habits do not please you, if his words affect you too much etc, isn’t it in you that this too great susceptibility may originate? Allow me to ask you these questions without claiming that the situation is necessarily like this. I know that ordinarily speaking, people are touchy about criticism because they are not humble enough to accept it, or have a dislike of finding themselves imperfect, and pride and self-esteem can be offended. However it may be, dear Father, let us remember carefully those principles which we find in all the books on the spiritual life; that our Superiors have, in order to govern, graces which subjects do not have; that to judge the actions of one’s Superior, we must have graces which God gives to Superiors, and that he who judges them or who interprets their intentions is very much risking offending God; that if a Superior has faults, that would be no reason for a subject to talk about them with first-comers, because how many evils arise from conversations like that, paralysis of trust etc, etc. I have written to all the Fathers [8] that if anyone thought he had something particular to say in letters, against the authority[9] to satisfy a duty in conscience, as I hold the place of the Reverend Fathers here,[10] he should unburden himself about it to me, and I will see what I have to do, and his conscience will find peace. I am completely sure about these last pieces of advice. I learn with a great deal of regret that the Brother is going from bad to worse. Take very good care of him, he is one of the most precious souls entrusted to your care, since he is consecrated to God by vows. Take a close look at what could be an occasion of laxity for him, and stay[?][11] [illegible word] the heart of J[esus] C[hrist] so as to be able to bring him back to his first fervour. Finally, I tell you that for Frenchmen there is never reason to despair of anyone at all while they are in this world, and if your stay at Akaroa saved only one soul, you would not have wasted your time.
Be sure of my most tender affection
Your totally devoted and very humble servant
Prov[incial] miss[ionary] ap[ostolic]
[In margin p3]
However, always keep in mind that this flock is entrusted to your care. Do not omit any of the means, especially prayer, to obtain from God his conversion. We came to save the savages, so we ought to expect to find them full of vices; let us not be surprised at their conduct, or discouraged, because if we came to despair of the salvation of even one, we would put limits on the power and mercy of God.


  1. sic – Port Nicholson, the then-common name for Wellington - translator’s note
  2. God gave, God has taken back, blessed be His holy name – Job 1:21
  3. Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him – Job 13:15
  4. God, be merciful to me, a sinner – Luke 18:14
  5. Tripe, a diocesan priest who had volunteered to come out and help the New Zealand missions, had been sent to Akaroa, where there were very few Maori, and the French settlers who had come in 1840 were mainly little interested in practising their Catholic faith - translator’s note
  6. ? genres
  7. pense?
  8. he has in mind his circular letter of six days earlier - translator’s note
  9. the Bishop - translator’s note
  10. Garin was styled Provincial and was acting for Father Colin, the Superior General, in matter affecting the Marists as religious - translator’s note
  11. reste-vous?