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Interview with Osvaldo Aparicio Giménez sscc, of the Iberian Province

“Hilarion Lucas brings to the fore
the relationship between the Founders”

 

Osvaldo, how did you become aware of the Life of the Good Father by Hilarion Lucas?

I owe thanks to Joaquín Garre who had the idea of publishing online a Spanish translation (author unknown) of the Life of the Good Father, originally written in French by Fr. Hilarion. Joaquín commissioned several people to transcribe the books that make up the biography. As I was not satisfied with that translation, I decided to make a new translation. I contacted Éric Hernout who promptly provided me with several transcriptions of the French original and even the scanned French original.

I thank Joaquín and Éric, as well as Nacho Moreno for their encouragement.

What have you gained from translating the original French text?

First of all, I must confess that I found the translation arduous and difficult, not so much because it is a 19th century text, but because the biography is full of quotes and more quotes from the letters of the Good Father and the Good Mother; quotes that are in the main written, especially those from the first period, in a very familiar and colloquial language that included a large number of idioms and localisms. This is something I am again finding in my attempt to translate the correspondence of the Good Father.

As for what it has brought me personally, I would point out that I have discovered something that normally does not appear with the same intensity in other biographies of our Founder. Hilarion's writing could be said to be more of a chronicle kept in diary form than a biography of what he had witnessed from the time he met Father Coudrin at a very young age. Moreover, he makes profuse use of the letters of the Good Father, quoting them almost always verbatim. Thus, together with the facts he narrates, he reveals the great personality and the very rich interior life of our Founder.

As you read on, Hilarion's account places you, without his expressly intending to do so, in the changing historical circumstances of the time and life of our Founder.

On the other hand, it is quite possible that, generally speaking, many of us really only know the broad outlines of our Founder's life and what is usually emphasised: that he was a "refractory" priest, that he had to take refuge in the granary of the Motte d'Usseau where he had his vision; we know of his wanderings (“Marche-à-terre”!) and his heroic ministry in Poitiers during the French Revolution; we know of his ultramontanism and anti-Gallicanism ... and, of course, we know that he took his vows with the Good Mother on Christmas Eve 1800.

But perhaps we have ignored the other periods of his life, such as his tireless apostolate as Vicar General of the Dioceses of Mende, Troyes and Rouen. It is surely worth knowing his origins and childhood, his youth and studies in Poitiers, the people who influenced his education and vocation, the vicissitudes and development of the "Work of God" as he liked to call his Institute.

But, above all, Fr. Hilarion passes on to us the admiration, devotion and affection he felt for Fr. Coudrin and this, I think, is really important.

Personally, what has struck you most in the Life of the Good Father and what features would you highlight?

I have already answered in part in the previous question, but I would like to be more specific:

  • It is edifying to see the deep and endearing love the Good Father professed for his family, to whom he always felt very close. It is worth noting that, as a young student in Poitiers, he was very close to his parents, who were going through a very difficult time after losing a lawsuit.

  • The supernatural reading he always made of prosperous or adverse events and his unshakeable trust in Providence.

  • His spirit of sacrifice and capacity for renunciation in order to reach the ideal he had set himself. Hilarion informs us of the young Coudrin’s passionate love for music, and how, before his ordination to the priesthood, he got rid of a flute that he loved to play and that, later, whenever he heard a musical instrument, his heart would shrink. This capacity for renunciation was evident throughout his life of great austerity.

  • His love for his family extended to the family he created with Henriette Aymer. His letters are full of affection and concern for each of the members of the community and show us the sensitivity and tenderness of his fatherly heart.

  • Hilarion highlights the relationship between the Founders. He makes clear the great affection, admiration and respect they had for each other, as well as the deep trust that existed between them. It is known that Mother Henriette often referred to Father Coudrin as "Incomparable". The Good Father, on the death of the Good Mother, in his reply to a Sister who asked him the reason for his sadness: "Not everyone had to know how precious this Good Mother was in the eyes of God. Her room should be considered as a shrine".

I must confess that to know more deeply this relationship between our Founders, I would also have liked to translate The Life of the Good Mother, also by Father Hilarion. I am grateful to Jeanne Cadiou for sending me the two volumes in which her life is typewritten, but just when I was about to start, Milagros Arbáizar warned me that the sisters were already working on it.

What is the relevance of this Life of the Good Father for the Congregation and how can it help the members of the Congregation in the different places or in Initial Formation?

Logically, all language is a child of its time and this must be taken into account. This is the case even with Scripture. This is a simple warning to keep in mind when reading and reflecting on the sections of advice and orientations of our Founder which Father Hilarion proposes to us at the end of his work. Hilarion offers us advice which he draws from the letters of the Good Father and which are valid for all of us, whatever our latitude, whether we are in Initial or Ongoing Formation, whatever our mission.

So, Father Hilarion proposes the following to us: recommendations to superiors; exhortations to charitable and fraternal love; calls for community peace, humility and simplicity, the spirit of poverty and obedience; attention to the formation of young people and children, especially the poor; love of the cross …

On the subject of love of the cross, I don't know whether the Good Father was recalling or paraphrasing St. Thomas Aquinas when advised aspirants to the priesthood (and, by extension, we can say everyone) to combine the study of theology with contemplation of the cross: "Study more and, above all, the crucifix with theology".

 

Fr. Hilarion Lucas and the Good Father

 

04/06/2021

  • 1. juanita Gómez Loayza,sscc ha scritto il 04/06/2021 alle 16:31:

    Muy querido Osvaldo, después de leer los comentarios que haces en la entrevista, confirmo lo que dices, acabo de terminar un encillo PPT de la biografia del B.P. para laicos a partir de la traducción que has hecho y he encontrado muchos hechos, acontecimiento, la vida más humana, espiritual y cotidiana del B.P que no aparecen en otras traducción. Lo cual te lo agradezco y te animo a traducir lo de la Buena Madre, no importan que una hermana ya lo esté haciendo, pero cada uno tiene su enfoque e interpretación  que pueden complementarse. Sobre todo, hace mucho que esté hecho en un lenguaje  sencillo al alcance de todos.
    Un gran abrazo.
    Juanita, ss.cc.