February 13 – FRIENDSHIP
Br. Eugene-Marie’s friendship with Br. Felix went back to 1849. It remained unchanged until the death of the Superior General 34 years later. Br. Eugene-Marie was a man who was helpful to everyone, a universal Brother, and a detached religious able to control his emotions; but he had realised that friendship involves more than living like Brothers and that it is not out of place in religious life. Br. Felix was well inspired to keep the 300 letters that his friend wrote him. The following was dated October 1856 and speaks for itself.
“My dear Brother and friend,
“I think I can call you both my Brother and my friend because that is the way I have always felt towards you. Far from fading from my heart, the deep affection I have always felt for you and which has never failed seems to grow every day and to become stronger.
“Do not imagine that my friendship has ceased because I speak plainly to you. Should I flatter you because you believe in my affection? For my part, I am willing to suffer anything from you, to put up with anything because I like everything about you, even your faults. Should you spit in my face, I would not for a moment cease to love you.
“Take no riotice of the mood you are in when you need to pour out your heart to
- Whether you are in a good or a bad mood does not matter, knock on the door of the
one you have every r:eason to- regard:as one o( your best friends. -When I reply it may not be with sweet or mushy words. But my bad mood will always protest against yours or against the things which do not concern you. Our two hearts will be mere spectators of the fight, never protagonists. We will clap our hands while watching these two mad women tearing each other to pieces, and we will laugh as we might when watching two women tear each other’s hair.
“Then our two hearts, always united, always friends, will melt in the heart of Jesus into which I plunge myself with you for time and eternity.”
Br. Eugene-Marie expressed similar impulses of affection towards Br. Simeon: “I look forward to seeing you and embracing you. How many things we’ll have to tell each other! The hearts of friends are like echoes which answer each other and never fall silent.”
His successor, Br. Hubert, was a friend of both Br. Eugene-Marie’s and Br. Martial’s. When Br. Martial was in exile in Switzerland and heard that Br. Hubert had died at Saint-Laurent in February 1904, his letters had moving overtones: “Never in my life have I been so deeply moved.” “Losing him is like losing everything.” “From now on only his memory will live on with me but I will never forget him.” “What great comfort and joy it was to be able to pour out my heart into his.”