There is much wisdom in popular experience that affirms that when you do not know what the conflict is about, for sure it is about money. Money and possessions can destroy the best of relationship, both in family and among friends. It became quite common to see children quarrel and even break relationship over what their parents left them after their death. In some way, this is what Francisco Palau was experiencing in that moment of his life. It has been already more than one year since his exile in Ibiza, but things with the School of Virtue were still far from being settled. Sometime earlier she asked his friends from Barcelona to send to him some of the possessions of the School, namely, the banner and the statue of Virgin Mary that was presiding all the activities. His intentions were nothing but good and loable: to make sure that these objects wouldn’t fall in the hands of people who would profane them. But some of his collaborators didn’t see it this way and they suspected Palau of owning these things for his own pleasure.
In this letter, Palau teaches clearly about his relation to the things: he doesn’t feel attached to any material possessions. For him, these are only means to get closer to God but not necessary for salvation. He even feels “disgusted” with them, they cause him more trouble than pleasure. For him, the only true treasure is God and His love, nothing else.
We live in the world that is focused on possessing more and more. The more we possess, the more successful and prestigious we are in the eyes of the world. The question that we need to ask ourselves is: whose sight is more important for us? Do we mind more how the world sees us or how God sees us? Saint John of the Cross used to say that God’s way of looking at us is LOVE, meanwhile world’s way is a constant demand to be better than others, to be richer than others, to be more powerful than others. In this world, possession becomes everything, meanwhile God wants to be the only possession of our heart. As we are getting ready to enter this Season of Lent, it might be profitable to sit for a while and ask ourselves about what/who is our true treasure. Palau was ready to give all his possession if that would prevent his friendship from falling apart. What things am I ready to give out to preserve the most precious relationships in my life? Because love of the things has certain drawbacks: the things will never know that we love them, and they will never give love back to us. Are they worthy of giving them so much value in our lives?
To D. Agustín Mañá: Barcelona
Es Cubells (Ibiza), July 16, 1855
My most esteemed friend: I received your last letter and I wondered very much at your amazement. From the contents of my last letter, I did not expect such reply. Where is the fault? The deed, is it good or bad? In my poor thinking nothing can be more praiseworthy. Previously, I incurred expenses and worked more than benefit. I have never accustomed to use images or luxurious things in my choices, even for the churches. For my altar one cross and two candles are enough for me. I do not have any affection to objects of this kind and thousand times I regretted to have consented what was introduced in the School. Regarding the Virgin and the banner and other accessories of the altar, it would have been a great suffering for me if it had fallen into the hands of strangers and or perhaps enemies. I foresaw what was bound to happen. They could not remain in the convent because they are liable to be inventoried and the government could appropriate everything related to the School. They could not be kept in any private house, and I am very sure that you yourselves would not like to have them in your own. There was no better alternative than the one I applied and communicated to the Administrative Board. To reprove the act and to reject what is holy, praiseworthy, and religious is to be afflicted of the glory of God. I should not have consented unless circumstances of time have changed that these objects that preoccupied us should have been exposed to the public not in any particular house or in the Church. You yourselves saw that the interested will be endangered. I do not think that any of you found it bad that this has been transferred to a safe place, much less venerated publicly in places where there is no arbitration bond. Let us set this aside because it disgusts me to think that this has been a surprise to you.
The fault lies only in having done this without notifying you. I did not think that you are a person of formalities. And besides Biel wrote to me that there was nobody who wanted to have the banner in his house, and thinking that I could lift the compromise, I wrote him to send everything to me. Nevertheless, I wrote to you on that same occasion and Biel did not like to hand over the letter alleging reasons in order to have this in secrecy.
It would have been better to continue my silence and reservation, because when you are asked particularly about the objects you could answer them, I do not know; and now you have to answer what you know and according to what I have written to you. It is in one of those cases that we must and could prevent and foresee. I think it is prudent to keep silent; if I acted wrongly, this will be unintentionally in your judgement.
I have not appropriated these objects. Everything that is not of God and his love, I consider it very cheap, and its possession disgusts me. Regarding the rest, if you know a better use of them, I will send them to you whenever you like. These are things that do not make me more or less perfect before God and are not indispensable means for salvation. Consequently, I could very well detach myself from them. I keep them not as a private person but as somebody interested in the School.
With regards to our friendship, it has nothing to do with this, because they are not matters of friends but of comrades in public concerns. I could be reserved without compromising the laws of good friendship.
You must know that everything that belongs to the confraternity and religious associations, are on sale and are in the possession of the government. One slight insinuation would be sufficient for everything to go to the hands of who knows who. I tell you this because if Bernardo wants, he has in his hands a very sure means to possess everything. He could do it. If he will, no one knows. On my part what I have of the School will certainly not fall in profane hands except in a surprise of an event that I do not expect. I will never entrust these to anybody except to an ecclesiastical authority, and I do not know if you, who took badly of what I did, have the disposition of compromising without necessity or with reason for this end.
Have the kindness of communicating my sentiments to all the rest of the members of the Board for my justification.
I desire very much that you and your wife, Marietta will recover your health perfectly.
I received a letter from Juana in which she mentioned about the money you have given destined for the purpose I have requested. I, upon receiving yours, took care of the intentions that were marked in the attached note. I appreciate the concern and trouble you have taken.
Greetings on my part to your sister and brother-in-law and to your nephew Pelegrí, also to all our friends, and dispose of this your affectionate and faithful friend who truly loves you.
Francisco Palau, Priest