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H. Marcellin Champagnat
10/01/1840 - Vol. I, n. 18
Circular 18



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In order to further the formation of the brothers, Conferences had already been tried out among the brothers in each district. Father had either presided at them or delegated a brother to do so, but these conferences had not yet been sufficiently organ-
ized. To compensate for that, the Founder sent the following circular to be read in all the houses (AA, p. 302). As can be seen, weekends or holidays were put to good use to allow the brothers to perfect their knowledge and to encourage them to study, while still insisting on the importance of their primary purpose, the teaching of religion and the Christian formation of children. The last line: Your most devoted father, was written in on the lithographed copies, but not by Fr. Champagnat, who simply signed each copy personally. We have five copies of this circular, two of which are addressed to specific districts, Pélussin and Lyon, as will be indicated in the footnotes. The names of brothers in connection with specific topics appear only on the copy for Pélussin, which is why we have put them in parentheses. Besides the invitation from Bro. François, to say special prayers to obtain the Founders cure, we have added the Notes to be inserted in the Circular of January 1840, which are found in the Registre des comptes, nº 3, even though they are not in Fr. Champagnats handwriting.

J.M.J.

Our very dear Brothers,

As we send you the subject matter of our first conferences, it is a duty for us to remind you that the history of our religion, the study of its morality and of its divine dogmas, in a word, the sacred science of the catechism, should be its first and principal aim. True Brothers of Mary, totally dedicated to the salvation of the children who are entrusted to us, we have no other aim but to inspire our pupils with love and fear of God, a taste for and the practice of our holy religion. We therefore need first of all, this holy knowledge, which is sanctified by the charity which builds up and nourishes piety. Let us put far from us that purely worldly knowledge to which pride aspires and which puffs up the heart.

But, Our Very Dear Brothers, to succeed in the teaching of religion and to satisfy the demands of a world which is nearly always blind about the education of children, we will not neglect the other branches of instruction necessary for a Brother of Mary. Writing, grammar, arithmetic, history, geography, and even, if needed, drawing, geometry, and bookkeeping, will also be the object of our studies and the subject matter of our conferences. We will use them as an innocent bait to attract the childen and then teach them to love God, to save themselves. Above all, we will be good catechists, but we will also try to become competent teachers.

So we hope, Our Very Dear Brothers, that you will share our point of view, and that your meetings will be edifying and bear fruit. With the sole intention of pleasing God, you will redouble your zeal for the sort of study which is suitable for a good Brother of Mary and you will make yourselves capable of giving suitable answers on the proposed topics.


I. CATECHISM, PROOFS OF OUR RELIGION

1º Necessity of religion;
2º Existence of God;
3º Authenticity and truth of the holy books;
4º Proofs of religion from the prophets;
5º From the miracles and especially from the Resurrection of Our Lord;
6º From the circumstances of its establishment, from the martyrs, from its continued existence. (Bro. Pie)

II. GRAMMAR, THE NOUN

1º General definition;
2º Division;
3º Gender;
4º Number;
5º Spelling and syntax. (Bro. Victor)

III. ARITHMETIC, THE METRIC SYSTEM

1º Definition and explanation of the system;
2º Meter, are, stere, gram, franc;
3º Relationship of these measures with one another;
4º With the former ones and vice-versa. (Bro. Marie-Lin)

IV. FRENCH COMPOSITION

Usefulness of conferences: 1º for each brother personally, 2º for the society in general, 3º for the children.

V. PARSING

1º The men who have lived the most are not those who can count the highest number of years, but those who have best used those which heaven has bestowed on them.

2º Gentlemen, the lack of care you have shown in carrying out the commission entrusted to you, has resulted in the fact that the books which I asked you to send me have gone astray.

ARITHMETIC PROBLEM

Five persons got together and made a profit of 84,800 francs. The first invested in the partnership the price, expressed in francs, of 1,622 fathoms 5 feet, at 4 pounds 16 shillings 6 pence per meter, less 72 francs 48 centimes which he deducted. The second invested the interest on 78,940 francs lent for 9 years, 9 months and 15 days, at 5 4/5 percent, plus 15,168 francs 66 centimes. The third invested an amount equal to the price of 100 quintals, 95 pounds, 12 ounces, at 10 francs per kilogram. The fourth invested what was needed to make the third ones amount equal 100,000 francs. The fifth invested the price of 298 1/2 meters of cloth, plus 395 3/4 meters, plus 1,049 5/6 meters, plus 789 2/3 meters, plus 845 3/8 meters, plus 495 21/24 meters, at 24 francs per meter, but he deducted 68,000 francs from the total. How much did each one invest?

REMARKS

1º The conference will be held in on
for the establishments of and
and will be presided over by Bro. and in his absence by
2º The conference will open with the recitation of the Veni Sancte and the Ave Maria, and the reading of the present circu-
lar, followed by the presentation of the religious topics by the brothers so designated.
3º When called on by the president, each of the designated brothers will develop the topic assigned to him, in a coherent manner and so that there will be no need for questions.
4º However, each brother should, according to his ability, prepare the subject matter of the conference so as to be able to answer the questions the president may see fit to ask after the oral lessons.
5º There will then follow the review and correction of the assignment which each one should have written neatly on a sheet of paper folded in four with his name and the date at the top. The best assignments will be collected and kept at the motherhouse.


6º The conference will last about three hours. Before its conclusion, the subject matter of the next conference will be announced, and the the Sub Tuum will be recited.
7º A report of everything that took place at the conference will be drawn up by the president and two other brothers of his choice.

Your most devoted father,
Champagnat

Our Very Dear Brothers, We are answering a need of your hearts in inviting you to unite ourselves at the feet of Jesus and Mary, to ask for the preservation of our beloved Father Superior whose health is still very precarious. For nine days we will recite the Litany of the Blessed Virgin and the Memorare, we will attend Holy Mass and we will make our Communions for this intention. Include your children in this work of gratitude and piety.

Your most affectionate brother,

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