Letters of Marcellin – 042

Marcellin Champagnat


Louis Chomat and Césaire Fayol opened a school in Sorbiers, their home town, about 1812, and ran it until both of them entered the Little Brothers of Mary in 1832, at which time the Institute took it over. The two teachers, henceforth Brother Cassien and Brother Arsène, stayed there, and two other brothers were sent to help them. From that moment on, Brother Cassien had to endure a long interior crisis; first he found that his confrères were not good enough religious, and then he himself began to feel an aversion for the religious life. It was while in this frame of mind that he wrote to Fr. Champagnat, blaming (as usually happens in such cases) not his own mood of the moment, but everyone around him and even the Founder him-
self. The latter replies with this very touching and sympathetic letter. (Cf. biographical sketch; Avit, AA, pp. 124-126; Our Models in Religion, pp.197-231.)

To Brother Cassien,

May Jesus and Mary guide and lead you in everything.

My dear Brother Cassien, I will not hide from you the pain your attitude causes me, since I simply cannot understand it. I do not believe, dear friend, that I have failed you in any way: I took careful note of the objections you felt obliged to raise with me, and I certainly did not think I was making fun of you by giving you the two brothers we did. You yourself were pleased with them. Who came along to disturb the peace? When Brother Denis negative attitude upset you, did I not go there right away to change him? And when you told me that you preferred to keep him, even though we might have made other arrangements, did I not go along with you?

So then, dear brother, what have you got to be upset about? If the members of the Society of Mary are too imperfect to serve as models for you, dear Cassien, then look at her who can be the model of the perfect and the imperfect and who loves them all: the perfect because they practice virtue and lead others to do good, especially in community; and the imperfect because it is especially for their sake that Mary was raised to the sublime dignity of Mother of God. So, dear Cassien, if we are perfect, we should in a sense thank sinners for obtaining for us such a good and loving Mother.

Why, dear brother, must you return to Egypt for counsel? Cant Mary give you whatever reassurance you need? So as not to have to reproach myself later on, I will tell you with the prophet, dear friend, that the help of Egypt will be like a reed which will break in your hands, and which, I do not hesitate to predict on behalf of Jesus and Mary, will injure you as it does so.

If you have no use for my advice, go to see the superior of the Society, who has returned from Rome, or His Lordship the archbishop, or Fr. Cholleton. In any case, dear Cassien, do not rush into anything….

Edition: Translation from: Lettres de Marcellin J. B. Champagnat (1789-1840) Fondateur de l?Institut des Frères Maristes, présentés par Frère Paul Sester,1985.

fonte: Daprès la minute, AFM 132.1, pp. 30-31, éditée dans AA 125


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