Palau writes from Ibiza during Lent of 1855. It’s been already almost a year since the School of Virtue had been closed and he exiled in Ibiza. He still maintains friendly relationship with all those who have been his close collaborators in the School, especially with the Board of Administrators. He presents accounts to them, but for nobody’s surprise, he can talk only about debts. The expenses were made and since the School is not operating anymore, there is no income. He worries the most about the debt with Mr. Cort, who was a carpenter who did some works for the school. All the debts have to be settle, and they together need to look for some solutions, because it would be an illusion to believe that the School will open again any soon…
By the other hand, Palau manifests again his great love for solitude and peace. He confesses he has „no friends nor enemies” and is very content with silence, seclusion and solitude. Good way to live the Lent Season even in 2021!
Reading this Letter from 1855, I remembered so many entrepreneurs who suffer due to pandemic of Covid19. At least in my country, many of them were forced to declare bankruptcy, because the investments they have made cannot be covered by income, because there is no income, everything is closed due to pandemic. Father Palau also suffered this situation, and looked wherever he could for solution, the way he wouldn’t burden his friends. It is a very delicate and complicated situation, that requires much attention from the government, and also much solidarity among all to help each other in these challenging times.
And as we live also the Lent Season, I hope that these three pieces of advice can help us to journey towards our own resurrection as persons and as society:
- „Settle accounts with everybody” – it’s true that we don’t know what will happen yet. Time is changing every minutes, there are storms and good whether. And maybe there are persons in our life to whom we owe: a phone call to a friend, a humble „I’m sorry” to a wife or husband, a short visit to parents…
- „Have no friend nor enemy” – Lent is a time to spend with God or with demons, like Jesus on dessert. We can choose to spend it with God… but left without him, there will be only demons and beasts who will accompany us. There are moments in our life when there is no use of friendships nor enmities, nor use of your thousands of friends on social media. It’s just God and you…
- „Love the silence, seclusion, solitude” – due to pandemic we live in silence, seclusion and solitude. The challenge now is to LOVE IT. Not only to bear with it as with the annoying necessity from which we just can’t escape. To love it means to embrace it, rejoice in it, find comfort and peace of heart. And maybe we will discover that to be confined is not the worst thing tat could happen…
Ibiza, Lent 1855
Administrative Board of the School of Virtue: Mr. Juan Casases, Mr. Agustín Mañá, Mr. Franco García, Mr. Joaquín Grabulosa
My dear Sirs: I thought of going any day from now to visit Barcelona, and with this occasion we could discuss by word of mouth the affairs of our School. However, the circumstances advised us to delay our meeting a little more; but meanwhile it is to settle precise and most urgent matters and to be ready for whatever may arise.
To cover the arrears and debts that subscription is not good, because I do not think it would be sufficient and it demands too much sacrifice from friends. On the other hand, Mr. Barnardo Cort will take everything at the end, if we will not be careful. I am going to suggest to you these two means. 1st Temporarily: I have spoken to two priests of this region. Here the Mass stipend is one peseta only and even without exigencies and bonds. They are ready to celebrate twenty Masses a month for this stipend, and you could deduct one or two reales or whatever surplus there is to cover the expenses. You only have to send them Masses stipend for five reales, and retain one real. I see that this measure is very annoying for you; nevertheless, the priests of this region will give alms, they will not lose anything because they do not celebrate Masses for bigger stipends and this will be a favour for the School. For you it will be the work of procuring Mass stipends for more than one peseta. If in this some priests will help, we will manage in this way temporarily.
If this will not work, there is no other way but to declare bankruptcy lest Mr. Cort will take the articles that must be kept and are worthy of all our esteem, such are the statue of the Blessed Virgin, the banner, etc. Therefore, it is indispensable to take note and to register the articles that are owned by the School, make an estimate of the value, sell them to the deserving, or to any other persons, and the proceeds will be to settle the debts. Mr. Cort claims for 80 duros. I think: everything that is there in its actual condition is not worth that amount and in order to satisfy him, it is precisely to hand over everything to him. Mr. Cort deceived me. He himself appraised the objects and he assessed it double of what it is worth. He refused the money that my brother Juan delivered, and I think he is excessively satisfied.
As you know, I have incurred so many expenses in the School, and so I must present them to you in order to save some of the objects that belong to the School; and in this case, save at least the statue of the Blessed Virgin and the banner and other things that will be infinitely lamentable to see them in the flea market. To this effect, let the Board examine the debts that I will present, scrutinize them, and give or sell them to me those objects lest it will fall in the hands of Mr. Cort. This is just, decent and proper. I wrote this not to get anything for myself or motivated by some material interest; but simply to save what could be saved of those objects for our worship insofar as I am in entrusted with its direction. You know me and you will not think that I have a crooked intention.
The platforms scaled nearly 25 duros and now they value only 8 duros. I paid 5 duros from my own pocket to pay the group of musicians on December 8, 1853. The press-work done by Gorchs and of other things that served the School scaled to 20 duros. The procession of the monarch’s retinue was charged to me and I had to pay 10 duros. Adding all these will be at least 100 duros. The printing of the Catechism of Virtues cost me 180 duros. I am not sure. I have collected hardly 30 duros and all the copies are left with me. The School was suppressed, it was a futile work and the expenses and the advanced payment fall on me. If this debt is acknowledged by the Board, it will be a strong argument to tell Mr. Cort that besides his computation there are others that must be settled, and so, if everything have to be sold, we have to gratify him to the utmost with the planks; and besides the debt will be credited to me on account of the debt that the School owes me. What do you think? Think well and send back responses.
Regarding the re-establishment of the School let us not make illusions. If the wheel continues to turn from bad to worse, there is no hope. However, the weather varies so much so that if there is thunder and lightning, tomorrow there will be tranquility, and in this case I am always ready to continue my sacrifices. But as long as the storm drags on and continue, I will be hidden and secluded, commending myself to God and to prepare for whatever he will ask from me. This does not imply that when you least expect me, I may show up if only to have the satisfaction to give you an embrace. I hold you as my true friends and I will never forget the good times we spent encouraging each other in combating the enemies of God.
I am fine, thanks God. This Lent I will preach in the Cathedral of Ibiza, even if very reluctantly because they are matters of routine. I could not in any way be fond of the people here. I neither have friends nor enemies. I am in full agreement in everything with the two authorities, and I only love the silence, seclusion, solitude something that could very well satisfy me.
This is all I have to tell you. My greetings to all the pupils and to you I send without reserve from this your true, constant, servant, friend and brother,
Francisco Palau. Priest