Pope John Paul I, at the general audience held on Wednesday, September 13, 1978, greeted a group of newlyweds and told them:
Last century there was in France a great professor, Frederick Ozanam. He taught at the Sorbonne, and was so eloquent, so capable! His friend was [Fr.] Lacordaire, who said: “He is so gifted, he is so good, he will become a priest, he will become a great bishop, this fellow!” No! He met a nice girl and they got married, Lacordaire was disappointed and said: “Poor Ozanam! He too has fallen into the trap!” But two years later, Lacordaire came to Rome, and was received by Pius IX. “Come, come, Father,” he says. “I have always heard that Jesus established seven sacraments. Now you come along and change everything. You tell me that he established six sacraments, and a trap! No, Father, marriage is not a trap, it is a great sacrament!”
Certainly, it went through Frederick’s head to be a priest. We see details of this issue in several of his letters of youth. Thus, in August 1839, his mother being very sick, he wrote to Fr. Lacordaire:
Speaking with heart in hand, […] to see the devastating progress of the illness of my mother, when the possibility of such a terrible loss stands before me, I see no longer a reason to keep me in the position that only my filial duty made me assume, and the uncertainty of my vocation grows more disturbing than ever. I commend to your charitable prayers, this inner trouble that makes me suffer for a long time, since, if God would kindly call me to Him, I see no militia where I was most pleased to serve than that where you are enrolled [in Dominicans]. Moreover, I would like to know in advance the conditions, to help me, with the advice of my confessor, take a decision; the rule of Preachers is missing in our library; do you know how I could get it? You would provide a new favor to who already owes you many.
Letter to Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, August 26, 1839.
But over the months, he discerned that, as a layman, he could better defend Catholicism and freedom of education, and even said that “in this century, most believe that the Catholic religion is nothing more than a business for priests.”
Frederick married at 28, in Lyon, on June 23, 1841, to Amélie Soulacroix, 21. They had a daughter, Marie, and through her we know that Frederick always had the detail to gift Amélie with a bouquet of flowers every month on the 23rd, the anniversary of their wedding, during the twelve years of marriage.
Author: Juan Manuel Gómez,
vice-president, SSVP in Spain.
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