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Bishop Brute Issues his first Pastoral Letter – 1834

On the day after his consecration, in Saint Louis, Bishop Simon Brute issues his first pastoral letter. Addressed to “All the faithful of our Diocess” he wrote on October 29, 1834:

SIMON GABRIEL, by the Grace of God and the appointment of the Holy See, Bishop of Vincennes.

To all the Faithful of our Diocese, grace be unto you from God the Father, and peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Beloved Brethren:

Divine Providence sends me among you as the First Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Vincennes, through the unanimous call of the Bishops, assembled in council in Baltimore, last year, and the appointment of the common Father of the Faithful, Gregory XVI, the Vicar of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on earth, as expressed in his Bull of the 6th of May last. Unworthy as I am of so great an honor, and of myself unequal to the charge, my only trust is in God, and therefore earnestly calling for your prayers, that I may obtain His divine assistance, I come to be your chief pastor. I come to be a First link in the succession of those who, for ages to come, we do so trust in God, are destined to attend, with their cooperators in a divinely instituted ministry, to your spiritual wants and those of your future progeny.

When you are thus entrusted to our care by the great Shepherd of our souls, the Warning of the Apostle of the Nations, to us and our successors in the same charge in the bosom of the Catholic Church is to be received with the sacred mixture of fear and confidence that it necessarily creates, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock over which this Holy Ghost hath placed you, Bishops to rule the Church of God, which he hath purchased with His own Blood.”

Saying “yourselves and all the flock”, the divine word, my brethren, forcibly marks, that the interest and duty both of the pastors and the flock are the same: to live in the same obedience and fidelity to their Lord and His Church, himself having made it, are inseparable allegiance; to embrace His law, receive His grace, and save together their souls for the life to come. For, my brethren, every day spent on this earth makes us draw nearer and nearer to our eternity, and that judgment of God that awaits every one of us. Amidst all the anxieties and distractions of the present life, a last day is approaching! Death will soon bid us go and leave all the occupations, pains, and pleasures of this world to be shared by other passengers, like ourselves, passengers of a day! Death will soon have called us to”stand at the tribunal of Christ,” to receive from Him the sentence of condemnation, happiness, or misery, through that immense eternity. Yes, beloved brethren, let one common interest and purpose cement our union in Christ; to save together our souls. To reach heaven and avoid hell is our common aim, to live a good life and do penance (for who needs not penance?) our common duty. Giving glory to God and cherishing peace with all is our consolation on earth; faith, hope and charity, these three things, must prove our whole treasure, as they are the only certain pledge of real and lasting happiness.

Such, my brethren, is the whole object and zeal of our union in Jesus Christ. He came to save us on the cross, we will trust and serve Him as our Lord and Saviour. He taught, first, His divine doctrine, then instituted His Church, to preserve it unchangeable to the end of time; we will, the pastor and the flock, with one heart follow His doctrine, obey His only true Church–the sacraments of His grace; and above all, the Eucharistic sacrifice, we will ever consider as the richest legacy of His love, established by Him for our blessing, therefore, neither to be neglected nor abused — our baptism we will faithfully remember; in penance, through sincere confession and contrition, we will seek the remedy of our sins; in communion, the support and joy of our souls.

Addressing thus our Catholic brethren, we forget not that portion of our flock which unhappy contentions, misleading in time past their ancestors, separated from their common Mother. Happy to see them daily forgetting those times, and inclining, we hope, to come and enjoy with us all the means ordained for our salvation, looking upon us as the only ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. We will not cease to claim humbly and affectionately from them that conïfdence from which prejudice or misrepresentations cannot long estrange hearts of good will, men of good sense. Let them be at least convinced that sincere love and respect towards them are duties which we mean never to forget.

As for the interests of society, our magistrates and officers of all kinds watch over them, under Providence and the Will of God, manifested by that of their fellow citizens, sanctions their authority –true religion by the voice of the Apostles having so proclaimed from the beginning–the activity and industry of our citizens are alive on all sides in these so rapidly improving countries, to pro- mote the wonderful blessings bestowed on the land by the Creator. It is religion, however, that most efl’ectually cherishes, supports, and sanctions all the obligations, all the occupations, of good men. Her pastors have them all equally at heart, sharing with their worthy cooperators in all the legitimate joys and sorrows of the flock. Our prayer will only be, that they be all sanctified””for this is the will of God, that both the blessings and trials of the present life, all its labors and all its events, be equally directed by men to secure their reward in the next. To this, faith constantly recalls us; Christian hope points steadfastly; charity refers everything, making it ever tend towards the”one thing necessary,” the salvation of our souls.

Your Bishop, beloved brethren, entering thus on his holy duty, begs humbly and earnestly your prayers, and entreats also fervently, the God of mercy to bless you; to fill you with that spirit of peace, charity, and piety, which has the best promises both of the present time and of the life to come. Jesus Christ said” I am the way, the truth and the life”, may He ever find the pastor and the flock His faithful followers, and receive them together in the kingdom of His glory. May He give rest to those who are gone before us, your departed friends, for whom we shall henceforth unite our prayers to yours, especially at the divine sacrifice.

With you we shall honor the Saints who reign triumphantly in heaven, call for their protection and that of the Angels to whom, says the Divine Word, our Lord”hath given charge over us, to keep us in all our ways.” We place our Cathedral under the special protection of Saint Francis Xavier, the whole Diocese under that of the glorious Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, towards whom it was in all ages the spirit of the Church, that all Christians should entertain the most tender devotion.

Beloved brethren,”we are the children of the Saints, as we pass on earth to go and to meet them in heaven. Permit me, then, to conclude with these few words more of the divine scriptures:”The grace of God and Saviour hath appeared to all men, instructing us, that renouncing iniquity and worldly desires, we should live soberly and justly and piously in this world, waiting for the blessed hope and the coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, . . . . a people acceptable, pursuing good works . . . . he who shall persevere to the end shall be saved. . . . the grace and peace of our Lord be with you.”

Given at St. Louis the day after our consecration, 29, 10th month, 1834.
+Simon, Bishop of Vincennes 1

  1. The Western Sun and General Advertiser, v.25-n.45 (1834), p. 1.[]

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