I commit my soul to Jesus Christ, my Saviour, frightened at my sins, but trusting in His inﬁnite mercy. I die in the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church. I have known the diﬃculties of belief of the present age, but my whole life has convinced me that there is neither rest for the mind nor peace for the heart save in the Church and in obedience to her authority. If I set any value on my research, it is that it gives me the right to entreat all whom I love, to remain faithful to the religion in which I found light and peace.
My supreme prayer for my family, my wife, my daughter, my brothers and my brother-in-law, and all their descendants, is that they will persevere in the Faith, despite any humiliation, scandals or desertions which may come to their knowledge.
I bid farewell to my dear Amelie, who has been the joy and the charm of my life, and whose tender care has comforted all my pain for more than a year. I thank her, I bless her, I await her in heaven. There, and only there, can I give her such love as she deserves. I give my daughter the blessing of the Patriarchs, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. I am sad that I cannot labour longer at the wonderful task of her education, but I entrust this work to her good and beloved mother. To my brothers Alphonse and Charles, my whole gratitude for your affection. To my brother Charles especially, for all the worries that my illness has caused him. To my mother, Mrs. Soulacroix, to Charles Soulacroix, I keep them near those for whom we have cried together. With a single thought, I embrace all my relatives and friends that I can not name here. However, I want my uncle Haraneder, my cousins Jaillard, the Abbe Noirot and Mr. Ampère, to whom I owe so much, Henri Pessonneaux, Lallier and Dufieux, my first friends, to find here a memory.
I give thanks for all those persons who in any way have served me and I ask forgiveness for my bad example and my impulsiveness. I ask prayers for me; to all of you, to the members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Lyon; to my friends in Lyon.
Do not allow yourselves to be stopped by those who will say to you, “He is in heaven.” Pray always for this man who loves you dearly, for this man who has greatly sinned. Assured of those prayers of you, dear and good friends, I will leave this earth with less fear. I ﬁrmly hope that we will not being separated and that I may remain with you until you come to me. May the blessing of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit descend upon you. Amen.
Frederic Ozanam, Testament, April 23, 1853.
- Frederic’s will is dated on his 40th birthday. He was already very sick and weak, and aware that his situation was hardly going to improve. Only five months later he would die.
- In these last days, Frederic reflects, prays and asks for forgiveness continually, for the many sins he committed during his life: “He spoke frequently of his sins, of the punishment they merited, of the scandal they had caused, the world expecting so much from Catholics, who profess to embody the faith in their actions. Once, when he seemed more than usually impressed by these considerations, one near him thought to soothe him by suggesting tenderly, that after all he had not been such a great sinner; but Ozanam answered quickly, in a tone of austere humility: ‘Child, you do not know what the sanctity of God is!’.” (Cf. Kathleen O’Meara, Frederic Ozanam, professor at the Sorbonne; his life and works, chapter 26). We can not fail to remember Saint Vincent de Paul and many other saints of our Church who experienced similar feelings in the last days of their life.
- We could summarize the testament with three words: forgiveness, thanks, prayer; forgiveness for all his sins, thanks for all the affections, prayer for his soul that would soon pass to meet God. He names in the testament appear his close family, his wife Amélie and his daughter Marie, his mother-in-law (whom he calls mother) Mrs. Soulacroix and his brother-in-law Charles, his brothers, uncles… but also his most intimate friends and the people who most influenced his life: Abbe Noirot, Mr. Ampère …
- We all know that our passage on this earth has expiration, and, those of us who believe, that we are destined to live eternally next to Jesus Christ. Death overwhelms us and confuses us; before it we live the mystery with the hope of being with Jesus Christ and with our loved ones in the merciful bosom of the Father. There is no doubt: it hurts us to lose the people we love, same as all people, whether they are believers or not; But we must not forget that hope overcomes death, as Frederic witnesses in his testament.
- May the example of Frederic teach us to live asking forgiveness for our faults, giving thanks for all the people who love and help us, and praying for each other.
Questions for dialogue:
- How do I live the loss of my loved ones?
- Do I ask for forgiveness for my mistakes?
- Do I give thanks for the gifts I receive from God and from the people around me?
- Do I give the necessary time to form an intimate relationship with God in prayer?
Javier F. Chento