January 7 – THE RESIGNATION
Only once in our history has a Superior General tendered his resignation. The reasons for the same are given by Rev. Br. Benoft-Marie himself in a long text whose beginning is as follows.
Very dear Brothers,
I am writing this as a man of nearly 78 years of age, tired after working for 31 years (1914-1945) as a member of the General Administration and, above all, after holding the post of Superior General for 10 years. This post carries with it very heavy responsibilities and my term in office has been marked by all sorts of difficulties arising from the war in Ethiopia, the persecution in Spain where 50 Brothers were killed, and the Second World War which caused so much misery. It was more than · my weak shoulders could carry.
When I agreed to take. over the responsibility given to me by the 1935 Chapter, I put my trust in God and, out of love for our dear Congregation and for the sake of each of you, I began to make plans of which I have failed to carry out the most. part. My plans were frustrated by circumstances such as those which made correspondence and visits impossible. Then mobilisation was declared and the war brought worries about the confreres held prisoners or in labour camps. In 1940, one of the Assistants, Br. Onuphre, died, and in 1942 another Assistant, Br. Elzear, was interned by the Germans. The number of new vocations has fallen in many Provinces. The health of some confreres has been impaired as a result of difficulties in getting food supplies. Finally, many other factors, which you may only partly suspect, have played a part in my decision.
Blessed be God all the same; I will have to bear the humiliation of failure but God will turn everything to his glory, and that is all that matters.
My hope was to make you true sons of Montfort, faithful servants and loving children of God who has been so good and brought us into this dear Congregation of St Gabriel and called us to the noble vocation of educating the youth.
The 20 circulars I sent you before the war, as well as the short notes which have reached you despite the German occupation, had only one purpose, that is, to clarify your obligations as religious and help you to serve God with greater love. I had intended to conclude by recalling and commenting, as fully as I might, on the main characteristics of the love of God; it should be that of a faithful servant, of a true child always anxious to please his heavenly Father by oing his will manifested by the com mandments of God and the Church, the orders of the Superiors and one’s duties of state.
As servants and children of God, our love for him should take precedence over everything and everybody else. Our love for him should be exclusive and absolute, grateful for his infinite goodness to us, atoning for the sins of the world and our own, generous and delicate, constant, steadfast and joyful despite the trials, sufferings and persecutions at the hands of men. (…)