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11 December

Saint Damasus I, Pope

Marist Calendar - December

Letters of Marcellin - 318

 

Br. Marcellin Champagnat
11/02/1840


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Coming as it does less than a month after the previous one (L. 313), this circular is certainly motivated by the postponement of the conferences, rather than by the death of young Brother Pascal. But since the latter had just taken place, it could hardly go unmentioned, even though this was not done for every brother who died. It was also an occasion to request prayers for the new missionaries who were preparing to leave and for our other missionaries already in their field of apostolate.

We have four copies of this circular. Two of them specify the location of the conference: Lyons and Valbenoîte; we will mention the other specifics in the footnotes. The Founder added a postscript in his own hand to the first copy, probably intended for Bro. Louis-Bernardin, director of Chemin-Neuf, Lyons. Since he was in charge of the orphans, who could not all go on vacation, he had to be present nearly year-round, which would explain the fact that he had not made his retreat with the other brothers. We note that he made a payment to the Hermitage around 14th May; perhaps he had just balanced his books, as had been requested. But it is much harder to explain why the Founder asks him for news about Bro. Jean-Chrysostome. If the latter were recuperating at home, as his biography leads us to believe (cf. Our Models in Religion, p. 112), he ought to have been in Desingy, Haute-Savoie, not in Lyons or anywhere near it. Even if the postscript were not intended for Bro. Louis-Bernardin, the problem would still remain unsolved, since it was certainly meant for someone in the Lyons area. So all we can conclude is that we do not have enough details to answer our question.

Our very dear Brothers,

The Lord has just called to himself our Brother Pascal, who had been confined to his bed of suffering for several months by a serious and painful illness. Full of hope in the divine mercy and in the protection of the Blessed Virgin, fortified by all the helps of religion and burning with the desire to go to be reunited with his God, he completed his journey on Thursday, the 30th day of January, while pronouncing the holy names of Jesus and Mary, after having continually edified us by his patience and resignation. We have every reason to believe that his death was precious in the eyes of the Lord, but you know, Our Very Dear Brothers, that one must be very pure in the sight of the sovereign judge in order to be admitted to the assembly of the saints. You will therefore hurry to carry out as soon as possible for this good brother the duties which charity prescribes for all our dear departed, and especially those which are indicated in our holy Rule for the professed brothers.

Since several of our brothers have pointed out to us that their too numerous occupations during the winter did not allow them to prepare sufficiently the material for the conference, and since we find it almost impossible for ourselves at the moment to be present, we decided it was more convenient to reschedule them for after Easter.

Therefore, in conformity with our last circular, the conference will be held at ...for the establishments of...and will be presided over by our Brother First Assistant, and in his absence by Bro....

Several seem to believe that the material for the conference concerned only the designated brothers. We would ask them to undeceive themselves. The French composition, parsing and arithmetic problem are to be done by all the brothers of each establishment; as for the subject-matter of the oral lessons, even though they have been assigned to certain specific brothers, the others should also prepare them and be ready to answer the presiders questions.

Let us continue, Our Very Dear Brothers, to pray the Lord in a special way for our exciting mission of Polynesia, so that God may cause the true faith to triumph and put down heresy in the midst of these vast areas entrusted to the Society of Mary. We recommend to you particularly Fathers Pezant and Tripe and Brothers Claude-Marie and Ammon, who are leaving from the port of Brest at the beginning of this month to go to New Zealand. This latest departure is due to the goodwill of the government, which offered our missionaries four free berths aboard the corvette LAube. We learned today that they are highly thought-of on board, that the fathers will be able to celebrate Holy Mass every day, and that since they are traveling with a New Zealander, they will be able to begin learning the language of the country.

May the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communication of the Holy Spirit be always with you.

I am, very affectionately in Jesus and Mary, your most devoted Father,

Champagnat

N.D. de lHermitage, 4th February 1840

P.S. We have been waiting in vain for news of Bro. Jean-Chrysos-
tome, and a statement of your accounts, but nothing has arrived. I think you have still not made your retreat, Brother Director; that concerns you personally. Try not to postpone this work of your sanctification any longer. Seize the first moment you may have.

All yours

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