Circular letter Of Father Champagnat To the Brothers 19 th January 1936
SITUATIONS REVEALED BY THE LETTER Circular letter to the Brothers 19th January 1836 Three identical copies of the circular but with three different endings in Marcellin’s handwriting. “To send the brothers New Years wishes for fervour, zeal, fraternal charity and courageous fidelity.” ( Paul Sester Vol 1 P144) “Whatever it may be, the circular of January 19th, 1836, presented a programme of holiness which already announces the spiritual Testament.” (Andre Lanfrey “Essay on the Origins of Marist Spirituality” P.28 )
Three Conclusions to this Circular. These conclusions indicate Marcellin’s knowledge of and concern for each brother. That he takes the trouble to write personal conclusions to each copy of the Circular indicates his personal care for each brother. Notice below an element of anxiety in A that he has not heard news from some brothers and in B that he is aware of the onerous responsibilities of some brothers.C.An expression of spiritual paternity. A - May Jesus and Mary always have you in their holy keeping. We have the honour to be your very devoted and affectionate father in Jesus and Mary, Champagnat, Sup. P.S. I presume you are all in good health, that your work is becoming more and more successful. It has been a long time now since I heard from you.
B - I know your wishes for us are sincere and I am very grateful for them. May God himself, dear brother, deign to bless them, and we will be happy. I am not unaware of how much trouble and anxiety you are going through to keep an eye on everything. Once again, let God spread his blessings and all will be well. Our very dear friend, tell your dear fellow-workers how dear they are to me, how much I love them in Jesus and Mary. Take very good care of their health. Tell Brother Onésime and the others how much I love them. I embrace you all in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and I have the honor to be your very devoted father, Champagnat C - A Dieu, our dear children, may Jesus and Mary have you always in their holy keeping. Champagnat, Sup.
“In 1835 46 new recruits were admitted to the novitiate. New schools started at Genas (Isere) Lyon (Providence Denuziere), Pelussin (Loire) and St Didier-sur-Rochefortz(Loire) “ Farrell P.180” There were 34 communities by the start of 1837.. By the start of 1836 261 had entered the Institute c.21 Brothers had died. ( 22 dates unknown.) 41 Brothers had left the Institute ( 22 dates unknown.) Brothers in the Institute at 01/01/1836 199 “In May 1835 Fr Champagnat establishes contact with Fr Mazelier.The two priests agree to help each other. 4 th June creation of the Vacariate of Werstern Oceania. 17 th July Fr Pompallier is proposed as Vicar Apostolic of Oceania. 5 th August Fr Colin asks Fr Pompallier to accept the mission of Oceania, because of the advantages this might offer the Society of Mary. He accepts, and the Society of Mary commits itself to providing five or six men for the missions of Oceania.” ( Letters Vol 2. P.86 ) Supplementary data of people mentioned
MENTALITY OF MARCELLIN ON SOME MATTERS. Lanfrey Ibid P.28 re. this circular. Notice the Sulpician influence. “To serve God with fervour Fulfill one’s state of duty Detach one’s heart from creatures to give them to Jesus and Mary Abandon oneself to the movements of grace Imitate and follow Jesus Christ “Yes, our very dear brothers, religious and children of Mary, your glory should be to imitate and follow Jesus Christ; may this divine savior fill you with his spirit, may his wisdom direct you in everything you do for his glory.”
Daniel A. Helminiak, O.M.I., professor of theology at the Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, Texas SPIRITUALITY TODAY Winter 1987, Vol. 39, pp. 331-348. “An overview of the contrast between seventeenth and late-twentieth century understandings will set the stage for a more detailed exploration. In the seventeenth century the concern was the Incarnate Word; today the concern is the Incarnation. The emphasis then was on God present among us; the emphasis today is on the human Jesus Christ. The seventeenth century response to the mystery of the Incarnate Word was adoration; the appropriate activity was servitude. The result was a certain demeaning of self in the face of the exaltation of God. The twentieth century response to the Incarnation is the optimistic embrace of our common human condition; the appropriate activity is self-assertiveness, self-development, and service in this world. Although these contrasts are drawn in stark form, the identification of the basic values in each position is accurate. It is ironic that focus on one and the same Christian mystery can have such opposite effects. On one hand, it results in deemphasizing the importance of this world and exalting the otherworldly. On the other, it results in legitimating concern for this world and its fulfilment and deemphasizing the other-worldly.”
By a tender affection for children By forming them to piety “We desire and wish that like Jesus Christ our divine model, you may have deep affection for the children. Break for them with holy zeal the spiritual bread of religion. Make every effort to train them in piety and to engrave on their young hearts religious sentiments which will never be erased.”
Have charity reign “May the union and charity of which the beloved disciple speaks always reign among you. Through the humility of those who obey May those who must obey perform this holy duty with humility, Through the charity of those giving orders and may those who command do it with sweet charity; in this way the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit will always be with you.” To be zealous for one’s perfection “May true zeal for your perfection animate you, and may constant fidelity to your rule help you make more progress in it every day; Through observance of the rule.” “but do not forget that exact observance of the rule is the true means of acquiring religious perfection.”
Attitudes of Marcellin. Paternal affection for the brothers. Trust in God Desire for the happiness and well being of the brothers. “Our very dear brothers, Our heart loves to remember you each day and to present you all to the Lord at the holy altar; but today we cannot resist the pleasant satisfaction of expressing to you our affectionate feelings, and of showing you our fatherly affection. Cherished and well-beloved, you are constantly the special object of our concern. All our desires and all our wishes are for your happiness, as you no doubt know.” Good humoured, caring and optimistic: (cf Paul Sester “1836 was probably Father Champagnat’s happiest year.” Introduction to Chapter 3 P141 )
BIBLICAL ALLUSIONS. St Paul to 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 “The slight affliction which quickly passes away prepares us for an eternal wealth of glory so great and beyond all comparison. So we no longer pay attention to the things that are seen, but to those that are unseen, for the things that we see last for a moment, but that which cannot be seen is eternal.” “Our very dear brothers, this happiness is not the kind the world looks for and which it thinks it can find in material possessions. We wish and desire for you goods which are more solid and real. To serve God with fervor, to fulfill faithfully all the duties of our state, to work every day to detach our heart from creatures in order to give it to Jesus and Mary, to open it to all the movements of grace.”
PLACES WHERE THE INTUITIONS OF THIS LETTER ARE REFLECTED IN OUR PRESENT MARIST DOCUMENTS. Spiritual Testament of Joseph Benedict Marcellin Champagnat. Constitutions P.141 Constitutions Cf Art 2 Charism of the Founder. “Led by the Spirit, Marcellin was seized by the love that Jesus and Mary had for him and for others. His experience of this, as well as his openness to events and to people, is the wellspring of his spirituality and of his apostolic zeal. It made him sensitive to the needs of his times, especially to the ignorance concerning religion among young people and the poor circumstances in which they were placed.” Art 83 Attentive to the spirit, open to youth, We are close to young people in their actual life situations… We make Christ known to them as the Truth who sets them free.
Art 24.1 Chastity and Friendship In our life of chastity we must avoid a double danger – forgetting that this vow is a call to love, and losing sight of the special quality of consecrated love. On the one hand, therefore, we must resist the tendency to withdraw from friendship with others, and especially, to withdraw from the friendship of our Brothers. On the other hand, we must exercise prudence which must guide our relationships so that our friendship are consistent with our consecrated chastity.
PHRASES THAT IMPACT ON YOU. Our heart loves to remember you Present you to the Lord at the holy altar Pleasant satisfaction of expressing to you affectionate feelings Fatherly affection Cherished and well-beloved You are constantly the special object of our loving concern All our desires and all our wishes are for your happiness. You may have affection for the children
Personal Reflections My response; Since concerning life choice is subjective. Filtered through personal experience. Family, Church, Education. Especially juniorate, postulancy, novitiate, post novitiate, Marist Life. Response: pious consent and/or honest reflection? Expressions are act of the will and /or sincerely felt? (Quaint language) Fatherly affection: spiritually of obedience or subservience? Consistency? “Cherished and beloved” – “to work every day to detach our hearts from creatures”. Reconciliation of the moral rigorist and the pastorally minded witness to Christ. The call to be available to community, province, people in need.