Excerpts from Fr. Seelos Original Letters as Compiled in Sincerely, Seelos
(book edited by Carl Hoegerl, C.Ss.R.)
The Redemptorist Provincial requested that Father Seelos curtail his enthusiasm for letter writing. Fortunately for us, this request came just one year before Seelos' death in 1867. He leaves behind a collection of 201 extant letters that reflects his spirituality & sanctity, and a compendium that represents the life and the times.
"In the morning, get up at five o'clock; in the evening to bed at ten. Daily, if possible, attend Mass, and in the afternoon a visit to the Blessed Sacrament if there is some free time at your disposal. Every day try to say five decades of the Rosary. During your work see in your mind one or the other of the Stations of the Cross and then, in spirit, make personal applications about the mystery meditated upon. At the beginning take one Station to which you ordinarily have a great devotion and gradually you will be in condition to visit, one by one, all the fourteen Stations in a spirit of contemplation during your work and to make practical applications in your heart." -- Seelos, suggesting a rule of life, undated.
"Frater Lindenfeld is still too much inclined to odd ways, and so I have to keep an eye on him especially. He would rather be alone and has a great aversion to community life. But he lets himself be corrected but forgets again and again. He imagines some things; for example, formerly he had the idea that he would die soon, and that there was no fresh, pure blood in his veins, his body is already beginning to wither away, etc., while every day he's getting fatter and fatter." -- Seelos, in a student report to the Provincial Superior, 1862
"[Americans] are so anxious to know the events of the day that the paper carriers go running with the papers even before the break of day, as if they already were too late. Hardly has it dawned and daylight breaks in when you see during the summer the gentlemen sitting in front of their houses with the papers; and indeed, not in the most modest of postures. The papers are not merely read superficially but are actually studied; and the most important of all for them are the various announcements and advertisements, or sales of goods and wares." -- Seelos to his sisters in Germany, 1858
On March 17, 1843, Francis Xavier Seelos set sail from Le Havre, France, to New York aboard the American packet ship, Saint Nicholas. Built in 1841-42 with two decks, three masts, and a man figure at the head, this passage was the return to New York of the vessel's maiden voyage. Seelos arrived, after a thirty-five day journey, on April 20, the Thursday of Easter Week. While at sea on Holy Thursday & Good Friday, the twenty-four-year-old Seelos composed a tender poem to his family, which he sent to them years later:
O solemn night! The son also keeps vigil. For him, now very far from home, the stars shine as lamps. He would like to see the splendor of the silent night, when Christ now found rest from his suffering and wounds in the grave. A precious perfume now fills the air. Many flowers are blooming in the shining light, and hearts are aglow with devotion. But here on the sea, it's deserted and empty and barren, full of dangers and perils, and nowhere a church to be seen. Therefore, his glance turns back to home; is torn to his parents and loved ones who sorely miss him. … Even our sorrow will be turned to joy again. Therefore, the gift is great and glorious that we offer this time at the Sepulchre...
I got a call to go to Fortress Monroe -- you have probably often read about it in the papers during this unholy war -- to give spiritual help to the unfortunate soldiers in the hospital there... One of my dear confreres, a student, accompanied me and gave me whatever help I needed... After our arrival at Fortress Monroe, we went first to the church; it is small but very pretty. We had to set up our living quarters in the sacristy, and light a fire as best we could. Then my companion left to announce our arrival to the soldiers and invite them to the services. The Mass began at eleven o'clock and at it I preached in English. It was around one o'clock when everything was over, and I had made my thanksgiving after Mass.... Returning to the church, I heard confessions until midnight, and when I had finished, divine Providence arranged it that a soldier brought us to his house for supper. He was a farmer from the Rhineland who was married to an Irish woman. He hosted us with the greatest joy and loaded us with woolen blankets. This was fortunate, because it was still so cold that even with all the blankets, I woke up several times during the night from the cold.
On Monday, December 8, after the Mass, a carriage was waiting for us and brought us to the hospital that lies opposite the fort two miles from the church, near the town of Hampton that has been completely destroyed by the Southerners. There is only a big pile of ruins left. This hospital consists of twenty-one large barracks in which there are about fifty beds. The officers were most obliging and polite. Most of the sick were not so sick that they had to stay in bed but could walk around, and almost all of them could come to the room that was separated from the big sick ward, and there I heard their confession.... I was richly repaid by the fine attitude of the soldiers, most of whom had not been to confession for three or four years. For many it was even longer, and with several, twenty years. Some did not even know the principal truths of our holy faith and so you see, dear brother, that my stay there was very much needed. -- Fr. Francis Seelos, in a letter to his brother, December 18, 1862