In our missionary life we encounter many people. To some of them we serve. With others we collaborate. But there are also those rare persons who become our friends in mission, who carry with us the burden of it. What a great gift!
Ibiza, July – September 1854
My dear friend: Even if we are unrighteous, yet, we all have something good and God uses it for good work and make good use of the chances that was given to us; by this little good that he finds in us, he will have mercy on us and save us.
Of course, you are a scapegrace, but there is something good in you. And in this little good you have, the two of us fully agree. You a little and I another little makes a little, or something good of the very bad things we do. How pleased I am with you! We are companions of arms and we had combated together. I did not see you tremble, but with courage you have hurled the enemy. In the teachings you have learned very well to direct the arch and aim your arrows. You have supported reasonably and defeated the enemy in these struggles. You have changed the arms; you have known the treachery and you have not abandoned the battlefield. We have attacked, we have conquered. We have done a duty of conscience. How grateful I am for the company you kept me on a dangerous day. You have been faithful to the truth. Receive on my behalf a vote of thanks. I am animated, vitalized and strengthened to see your faithful and loyal disposition to the truth. How good is a friend in time of need!
How much satisfaction entitled me to have suggested the explanation that you wrote! Ah! If I have been a coward and traitor to my conscience, what a penetrating remorse would be tormenting my conscience now!
I had time for reflection, and now I see the same thing I saw in the dark, sleepless and restless night on those days before we have drafted the explanations to the Mayor. Sleepless and restless night! I had before my eyes a devastating monster: the „anglicanism”. The teeth gnashed and the pen wielded to their satanic fury, their hatred against God and the Church, and their systems. Ah, their realistic systems! The cowardice of… how many outrageous ideas disputed and armed in battle against an implacable, irreconcilable and obstinate enemy! When my spirit was calm, clear and sure of the means of defense, what profound meditations I had on the mysteries of the cross! Confess and suffer!: this is the only arm that could be used in order to behead the multi-headed beast. And the bishop? He does not want. How will he take it? What a difficult idea to swallow! He does not want, he does not approve! And what will be the end? This torments my spirit. It does not weaken me, but it cuts me into bits. But the voice of duty must prevail. And now I give thanks to heaven for having made me mad one night and one day, and also to you for not opposing the fulfillment of my duty.
I know that nobody could resolve the question of competence and that no one would have the audacity and boldness to give a severe reprehension made by a lay person. And this caused me pain. At last, I am out of danger. What an experience for another occasion! Let the arms of the Holy Week come and you will see what sermon they will receive if they blaze out criticism.
We have a duty we need to fulfil, and that is to continue the means of defense that we have commenced. Now that I have recovered from the troubles that have caused me for having disturbed the palace, I will work with more strength.
Goodbye, my friend, count always with the fidelity and constancy of this your s.s.
WHAT WAS HAPPENING?
Ildefonso Gatell was one of the close collaborators at the School of Virtue, who acted as Fr. Palau’s clerk in his courageous exposition to the mayor of Barcelona, Antonio Aheran, on April 5 1854, regarding the suppression of the School. They shared the same passion for the catholic faith being persecuted by the government (they call all the news ideas „anglicanism” and are shocked by the effects it brings to the moral and social life of the people; said „anglicanism” refers to all the antirreligious and anticlerical movement that arose in Spain and the endeavors of the civil authorities to interfere in religious and Church matters). They were together in the most difficult moments and although Fr. Palau was the one who carried the most of the burden, he wasn’t left alone and now, in this letter, he shows his deep appreciation for the good he found in his friend. He is grateful for the courage and fidelity of his friend and collaborator, in a special manner during the dramatic night where he had to confront the authorities because of the School of Virtue. Suffering is part of the mystery of the cross.
IN OUR REALITY…
In our missionary life we encounter many people. To some of them we serve. With others we collaborate. But there are also those rare persons who become our friends in mission, who carry with us the burden of it. Not only the happy moments and success, but also the failure difficulties and problems. Friendship is the greatest treasure we have in life, the greater manner of loving each other. It is not easy to find a friend, especially in religious life. We change a lot our appointments, it’s hard to keep in touch at distance. But when we find those persons with whom we are connected in a special way, we need to cherish it and make effort in maintaining this relationship. It is the only relationship where we really choose to love, and someone else chooses us. Let us today give thanks to the Lord for the gift of friendship in our lives.