Vignettes and Cameos
Vignette 18

A full comprehension of Blessed Father Chaminade's teaching about Mary's Apostolic Mission in modern times and our part in assisting her comes from a careful study of the famed letter he addressed on August 24, 1839, to the priests who would preach the annual retreats that year.

This forceful and eloquent message expounding the germinal idea of the Marianist vocation to assist Mary in her Apostolic Mission is regarded as the charter of the Society of Mary. Because half the letter deals with the distinctive Marianist traits, it has been called the Circular on the Vow of Stability.

The occasion of this letter was the Founder's receipt of the papal "Decree of Commendation" for his Constitutions of the Society of Mary. He chose the annual retreats as the opportunity to renew the primitive spirit and fervor, and to promulgate the Constitutions. To guide the three retreat preachers, Father Chaminade addressed to them this magnificent letter explaining the true Marianist spirit with the great and unifying ideas underlying the two religious congregations he had founded.

The "nineteenth-century apostle of Mary" was seventy-eight years old at the time of its composition, yet more powerful and dynamic than before. This letter, then, contains his official teaching epitomizing more clearly and fully the many remarks scattered throughout his voluminous notes and correspondence.

It was of this letter that Father Charles Klobb opined that it should be inscribed in letters of gold in Marianist houses of formation.

Cameo 18

In his letter of August 24, 1839, Father Chaminade speaks of Mary's apostolic role in all centuries. He declares to us:

All periods of the Church's history are marked with the struggles and the glorious triumphs of the august Mary. Ever since the Lord put enmity between her and the serpent, she has constantly overcome the world and hell. All the heresies, the Church tells us, have been vanquished by the Blessed Virgin, and little by little she has reduced them to the silence of death.

After indicating the prevailing dangers of his day, the Founder foresees Mary's victorious role in modern times.

This foregoing description of our times rampant religious indifference, unfortunately so exact, is however far from discouraging us. We firmly believe she will overcome this heresy as she has overcome all others….To her, therefore, is reserved a great victory in our day: hers will be the glory of saving the faith from the shipwreck with which it is threatened among us.

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