Letters of Marcellin – 168

Marcellin Champagnat


Bro. Denis, superior of the community in St-Didier-sur-Rochefort, had no doubt written to the Founder for New Years. Since his letter has not come down to us, it is only from this reply that we can surmise the matters he discussed with his superior. The latter answers very clearly and gives him precise directives. Too precise, perhaps, for this brothers level of courage, for he eventually left the Institute, even though he knew that truly fatherly affection had been lavished on him.


Notre Dame de lHermitage, 5th January 1838

My very dear brother,

If you want me to continue to admonish you for your failings, good friend, you must not consider my admonitions so strange. You could not go too far in supervising your children; do not forgive yourself anything on that score. I am really astonished that you found nothing in the Rule which forbids us to give food to strangers, while you do find there a prohibition against even simply letting them into the house: where is the spirit of the law? It is strictly forbidden to eat outside the house without real necessity; an ordinary need is not enough. You should never go out without informing the brother who replaces you and telling him where you are going. I asked you the date of the permission I gave you to go to Lyons, and you give me no answer on that point.

You speak about your desire to go to the mission of Polynesia. My dear friend, cultivate that desire, for I believe it comes from God; I believe you also have graces and talents suitable for that work. God doubtless has plans for you; we have evident proof of that in the cure he granted you; never forget it. So try, dear friend, to put your accounts in good order, so that if you are called to go, you will be all ready.

As for Brother Flavien, be sure not to send him away; it would be impossible for us to replace him at this moment. Treat this brother with great kindness. Tell him that he should be your stand-in, and as such, plan with you to strive together for the good of all the children entrusted to you. And tell him that I do not tell one or another of you that I wish you a Happy New Year; you all know that the only thing I thirst for is your welfare. There is not one single truly good thing that I do not wish for you, and which I am not completely ready to do or undertake anything in order to obtain for you.

I am very pleased with Bro. Jeans good conduct. I love him too, as the grand-nephew of Fr. Courbon whom I loved very much as my superior. I have not forgotten Bro. Pascal. May God preserve his health, which in his infinite mercy he has restored. You are all well aware, or at least you should be, that I love you all very dearly; I wish, I ardently desire, that we love one another as children of the same father, who is God, and of the same mother, who is Holy Church. And lastly, to say it all in one word, Mary is our common Mother; could she look on unconcernedly while we harbored something in our heart against one of those whom Mary loves, perhaps more than us?

A Dieu, dear Brother Denis, adieu to all of you in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

I have the honor to be your most devoted father in Jesus and Mary,


P.S. Dont forget to pray for the success of our business for the society. When you finish the novena you are making, start another one for my intentions. Have all the children make it.

Send us everything, the forge and the lathe, since you bought everything. Have someone you can trust bring them.

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 lexpédition autographe AFM 111.29


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