What to do when our efforts seem useless? When everything turns bad? How not to lose hope when it feels like the end of the world?
Making the best of this occasion, I send you not the glorious palm of victory obtained by the School of Virtue, but its fruits, the dates; they are astringent, still bitter and not yet in season. Wait for some time and it will be as sweet as honey.
Take care of this branch, do not break it or divide it but wait for its ripeness. Mr. Juan Casases, Mr. Agustín Mañá, Mr. Francisco García, all the philosophers; Casellas and companions of Ceperes who delivered the lectures, those who arranged and disarranged the conference hall, and all the pupils are all determined to have their part and demanded their rights to the fruit of the palm. They have been faithful in the combats, let them eat the fruit of victories. They are going to siege your repository and their demands must be attended to because they are just. Where is – you may ask – our victory? I do not see but destruction of the School. We do not see more than defeat and failures. But, did I not tell you that the dates are still astringent and bitter? Taste them and you will know. Little of patience, time will ripen them.
Will the School return to its course? Yes, it was not restrained; it continues its course. I do not understand. Listen to me and be attentive. We are in the Holy week and the military, civil and municipal authorities needed a sermon. The School had been commissioned to make this sermon and the theme was: the spiritual and religious matters of the people had to be governed by Christ and his Church, by the bishops and their legitimate pastors and other ministers, and not by seculars and strangers, not by the power and dominion of this world. They were very pleased with this sermon, they had it transcribed many times, studied it, heard it and listened to it in all offices, charmed and enraptured of the preaching, its contents were forwarded to Madrid. There, they advertently listened to what the School taught and the more the Anglican Protestants gnashed their teeth and exploded of fury and rage; the sermon had been preached during the holy week and now it will be heard by an outstanding and exceptional audience. The School still lives and preaches and continues its immortal course, as the word of God is invulnerable.
The dates are astringent and bitter. We are half-way in our duty. When will this sermon end? I do not know. Even if the School had been suppressed, it will preach a neverending sermon and if a branch in Barcelona was cut, it will produce a thousand in other parts. Could a layman suppress the word of God, the teachings of the Gospel and the explanations of the doctrines? Horrible sacrilege! Who had listened to it and had not trembled? Unheard of scandal! Before they could damage the chair of St. Peter and the chair of Moses, something has to be worked out.
One “no”, alas one curse cast on them by the Spirit of God is enough to dispel their hope like smoke. They could cut our tongue, but will not take away our freedom. They could cut the hands of a bishop, but will not deprive him of his crozier. They could kill the body, but will not be able to imprison the word of God. Leave them, they could not do harm to those who are faithful to God. When the dates are ripe, rather, on season give to each one his portion, that the School may eat them. Virtue is the fruit of contradiction. The palm offers its dates. Enjoy them! Some other time I will give you one of its branches and hopefully we will meet in glory carrying them in our hands as symbol of our triumph.
Greetings to you and to everybody in the School and receive my loving regards and dispose of this your unworthy director.
Francisco Palau, Priest
(Ibiza, May-June 1854)
WHAT WAS HAPPENING?
The confusion because of the closing of the School of Virtue continued among the friends of Francisco Palau and his collaborators. They have many questions and few answers. Father Palau didn’t forget not abandoned them. He hurried to console them, to try to give some explanation about he meaning of those events that were affecting all of them. As always, his answer is filled with wisdom, because it comes from years of contemplation of the Word of God and events on the world. And what this answer is? „We are not yet done”. It is still not the end of everything. Even when the events and those are behind them want to convince us that it is the end, want to make us believe that it is over, we still have job to do, „we are half-way on our duty”. The fruits are still unripe; it takes more time to see the true fruits of what we have done, so let us wait patiently, because God is the one who has the last word.
Sometimes we worry about the fruits of our efforts. We don’t see any effects. We strive for change, but the only change is making things even worse. After so many hundreds of years of Christianity, our world seems more pagan than ever; instead of revolution of love, we have civilization of dead. And words of Francisco Palau can bring us consolation and hope: WE ARE NOT YET DONE. There is still time for our efforts to bring fruits. It is still not the end. We sow, others will reap. And God is the Lord of the harvest.