España: Encuentro de la Conferencia Europea Marista en Alcalá de Henares
Santos: Nuestra Señora de Montserrat y Pedro Canisio
We can understand Fr. Champagnats joy and pride; he had just received the first letter from one of his brothers headed for the distant mission of Oceania. This event certainly accounts in part for the touching enthusiasm which led him to write this circular to the brothers at the beginning of the year following the one which saw the approbation of the Society of Mary (cf. Life, p. 192).
We have two copies of this circular, each bearing a postscript in Fr. Champagnats handwriting, as was his habit when sending circulars. The first, A, was doubtless addressed to Bro. Barthélemy, who was then in St-Symphorien-dOzon. His younger brother Jean-Marie, after two years at the Hermitage, had just received the habit on 3rd January 1837, under the name of Bro. Jean-
Antoine. The destination of the second, B, cannot be identified.
1st January 1837
Carissimi. My beloved, my very dear brothers, let us love one another.
At the beginning of this year I could not find words more suited to my tastes and my affections; if I ask my heart, my feelings, the pain which I feel at the least of your embarrassments, your problems which are mine too, your setbacks which distress me, twenty years of solicitude, they all answer me that I can boldly and fearlessly speak to you the words with which the beloved disciple began all his letters: dearly beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God.
My wishes and desires at the beginning of this year are very different from those which the world tries to express in lying words: a certain abundance of material goods, honors, pleasures which the heart never tastes, that is what the world wishes. For my part, my very dear ones, my beloved, I beg our divine Master every day I go up to the holy altar that he rain down on you his graces and his most abundant blessings, that he help you to flee sin as the only evil to fear, that he smooth the way for you to the virtues proper to religious, and especially proper to children of Mary.
Finally, I beg our common Mother to obtain for us a holy death, so that having loved one another on earth, we will love one another forever in heaven.
Our fathers and brothers assigned to Polynesia embarked the 24th of last month. What a vast field the Sovereign Pontiff, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, has entrusted to our zeal. Let us accompany those to whom this vast field has personally fallen, with our good wishes and our fervent prayers.
I think you will be pleased if I share with you part of a letter written from Le Havre on the eve of their departure.
How happy I am, dear Father, to have been chosen, even though I am so unworthy, from among the Brothers of Mary, to be among the first of those who bring the light of the gospel to savage peoples. May God be blessed! It is he who gave me my vocation and helps me to follow it. I am very happy to be leaving and I can say very sincerely that I would not give up my place even in exchange for a throne. I am not frightened at all, because Mary, our good Mother, will be my guide in all my actions and my refuge in my troubles. I would like, very dear Father, to be able to wish you and all my dear brothers in Jesus and Mary a happy New Year in person, but circumstances will not permit me to satisfy my desires. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you and all the brothers a good and happy year. Please accept my best wishes.
Bro. Marie Nizier
A - We finally gave the holy habit to your brother, hoping that he will do better; we wanted to encourage him, and we are not really dissatisfied with him. Everything is going fairly well; from time to time we accept another novice. Pray that they be trained quickly, for the harvest is extremely abundant. At present we have requests for two novitiates, one in the diocese of Albi, and the other in St-Didier. A Dieu, my very dear ones, my beloved!
I have the honor to be your very devoted father in Jesus and Mary,
B - I leave you in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
P.S. Dont forget our mission.