Mayet collected all sorts of material into his Memoirs. There were transcriptions of letters, reports provided by Marists, words of others taken down by Mayet or by other Marists, details Mayet had picked up about the beginnings of the Marist project, and above all the words of Jean-Claude Colin, which he took down at every opportunity.
The material he collected is divided into nine chapters.
- History and spirit of the Society;
- Spirit of the Society: respect for bishops and modesty;
- Spirit of the Society: humility and contempt for self;
- Spirit of the Society: spirit of strength and courage;
- Spirit of the Society: childlike and easy spirit, freedom of spirit, plainness, simplicity;
- Spirit of the Society: prudence;
- Spirit of the Society: spirit of faith, prayer, recourse to Mary;
- Spirit of the Society: spirit of chastity and caution;
- Some notes on education.
The Mayet Memoirs
In 1840 Dupuy helped Mayet to organise the material which he had collected up till then. Dupuy copied material from Mayet’s notebooks, and Mayet subsequently corrected or commented on the work in the margins of his notes. From now on Mayet’s Memoirs showed signs of several copyists.
Mayet constantly revised,verified and corrected his Memoirs, as he painstakingly gleaned more and more information. Jean Coste, the Marist historian, comments on the accuracy of these notes: “… it is a safe presumption, based on what thousands of pages tell us of his methods, that he is accurate.
Although not trained in shorthand, Father Mayet had several advantages in a permanent excuse for having a notepad in his hand, an excellent memory, and much practice in seizing upon the key words and images of a talk.”
Did he know
Given that Jean-Claude Colin lived longer than the other founding personalities, and that he articulated most clearly the spirituality of the Marist enterprise, his words are important. But did he know that Mayet was surreptitiously recording these words? Mayet himself tells us that Colin was aware of what was happening:
At that moment he [Father Colin] turned to me and gave a significant look which seemed to say, “If you sometimes note down what I say, note that.”
However, Colin was not always happy with the thought of his words being recorded and this could easily have led to Mayet’s Memoirs being destroyed forever. One of the first Marists wrote:
There was a moment when this precious collection was at great risk. Noticing that some one was taking down his words, Father Colin unleashed his anger which came from his humility, and sent the author away for a month a long way from the Mother House. Since this man had reason to fear an even worse outcome, namely that (Father Colin) would want all the notes to be handed over to him to be destroyed, he consulted Father Maitrepierre, a wise man who gave good advice, on what he should do in that case. The reply, given without hesitation, was this: in that extreme case, seeing on the one hand the importance of the notes that had been collected, and on the other what would happen to them if Father Colin were able to get hold of them, Father Mayet should take every means not to expose himself to the risk of receiving such an order.Thankfully things didn’t come to that. [Father Colin] calmed down, and even appeared to forget the matter completely.