Vignettes and Cameos
Vignette 9

The Archives of the General Administration, thanks to Brother Ambrogio Albano, has organized the Founder's writings for easy access and use.

An interesting classification and evaluation of Father Chaminade's writings as they were found in the General Archives in 1950 is given by Father Thomas Stanley in his doctoral dissertation, The Mystical Body of Christ according to the Writings of Father William Joseph Chaminade (1952). For a current overview one would need to visit the General Archives.

Father Chaminade was an eclectic, but with an original approach. In addition he enlisted the assistance of a large number of secretaries and collaborators. After proposing fundamental ideas and basic outlines, he delegated the writing to his disciples, then edited and approved their work. Our Founder was a man of action, discharging the manifold duties of a leader and of the apostolate. He was not a writer.

The genius of his organization is at the same time a source of his obscurity in the history of spirituality. He embodied his ideas in a living organization rather than in the printed page. For, while he wrote much, he published little. In fact, he never wrote directly for publication in general.

Cameo 9

Because of his absorbing activities, Blessed Father Chaminade published few works for his two religious congregations: several circular letters, their respective constitutions, and several editions of the Manuel du Serviteur de Marie. Yet we have a plethora of autographic manuscripts produced under his direction, manuscripts copied by early Marianists, and manuscript notes taken by those who heard his instructions, discussions, and sermons.

With a few exceptions, the documents containing his Marian doctrine remained unpublished for many years. In the last half-century, a number of definitive editions, translations, syntheses, and analytical studies have appeared in published form. More writings await editing and publication.

The Petit Traite de la Connaissance de Marie saw publication in 1927 by Tequi of Paris. This is an extract from the sixth edition (1841-1844) of the Manuel du Serviteur de Marie. The Petit Traite was actually composed by Father Jean-Baptiste Fontaine, one of the Founder's most faithful disciples, in accord with Chaminade's ideas and often using expressions furnished by him. It contains the authentic Marian theology of Father Chaminade because he approved and published it. In reviewing this small work in 1934, Father A. de Becdelievre, S.J., stated:

It is a substantial work, full of ideas and doctrine, short, simple, and capable, I believe, of doing as much good as The Glories of Mary of St. Alphonsus Liguori or the True Devotion of Grignion de Montfort.

The Petit Traite appeared in English as Our Knowledge of Mary in 1938, published by Bruce of Milwaukee

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