PAUSE

There will be a pause in these reflections until August 27.

A reminder that all the 2045 entries on the writings of Saint Eugene are available for you to consult on the site http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/.

In addition, should you wish to research a word or concept you can do so by using the search engine on the homepage of the site.

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IF ONE IS GOING TO GET INVOLVED AT ALL, IT MUST BE IN AN EFFECTIVE WAY

When the requests for a mission season came in, they were put together and Eugene and the Oblates evaluated them and made decisions on how to proceed.

What emerges clearly from this letter is that the method of the Oblate missionaries was not one of superficial preaching, but of an in-depth approach of taking over a village for several weeks ion order to achieve lasting results. (See http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=367 for further details)

My dear Courtès. I did manage to get our men together to plan the assignments for the various missions that we have been asked to do. The outcome of our meeting was that we shouldn’t hesitate to give preference to missions over retreats. Also that the Peynier[1] mission must be determined, since the Pastor requests it, but that it isn’t opportune to offer the retreat at Fontvieille in as much as such an exercise given by only two missionaries over a fortnight would have only shallow results in a population of some two thousand five hundred. If one is going to get involved at all, it must be in an effective way, and the thing is impossible as conceived by the pastor of Fontvieille. If the old fellow has given you an answer in the meantime, you can tell him without hesitation that you approached me on the matter and I refused to release missionaries for a simple retreat. To achieve anything in such a tough area at least three missionaries are needed on a four-week mission. He can take it or leave it.
The Auriol mission was wonderful, our men worked like Trojans but are ready to get back to work.
Goodbye, my very dear friend.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 3 February 1835, EO VIII n 504

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BE VERY PRUDENT IN THE MIXED LOCALITIES THAT YOU EVANGELISE

Father Mille lived and ministered in Switzerland in areas of mixed religion, and where some of the Protestants were strongly anti-Catholic. Eugene encourages discretion in the approach of the Oblates.

I think Father Guibert has written you that he thinks it would do Father Hermite good to go out occasionally on a mission. He must have given you his advice about the leader you would be well-advised to name. Whoever it is, I urge him to be very prudent in the matter.
This is especially necessary in the mixed localities that you evangelise. Don’t direct your efforts to converting Protestants. All the better for them if they profit from our passage, but don’t have them particularly in mind, the private good could be at the expense of the common good: what is more, you are sent ad domesticos fidei. Organize yourselves on that basis. It wouldn’t take much to unleash a persecution whose consequences would be incalculable.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 15 January 1835, EO VIII n 501

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DON’T WORRY BECAUSE GOD IN HIS GOODNESS WILL MAKE UP FOR WHAT IS LACKING

The Oblates used to write to Eugene explaining their successes and difficulties during the preaching of the parish missions and asking his advice. The newly ordained Father Vincens was struggling with the sacrament of reconciliation.

You wouldn’t have experienced those problems you speak of if you had been able to serve your apprenticeship with some experienced veteran.

Eugene’s explanation refers to the practice in the missions given to the village parishes to use the sacrament of reconciliation as a means to spirit growth and accompaniment. The penitent came for the first time and confessed the sins committed. Receiving advice on how to achieve a change of life, the penitent would come a second time and would receive absolution for those issues that had been worked on.

The first session with the penitent having to be concerned with the principal points, e.g., the first and sixth commandments, you base your judgment on that. You tell yourself: I will absolve this man unless he does not amend his life at all. When he comes back again, although you don’t recognize him, if he has amended his life you give him absolution on the strength of the first judgment you made at the time he confessed. As to the problem you have over not being able to arouse contrition sufficiently in each penitent, this preoccupation would vanish if you made use of our invaluable service for the act of contrition, it is one of our most potent methods, it is proper to our Congregation and up to now has always proved infallible.

Eugene concludes by reminding the young Oblate that it is God’s work that he is doing, and to rely on God’s accompaniment.

But don’t worry. God in his goodness will make up for what is lacking. Goodbye, my affectionate greetings to you and your companions together with my blessing.

Letter to Ambroise Vincens, 17 January 1835, EO VIII n 503

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THE POOR INSTRUMENT OF THESE MARVELS IS THE FIRST TO BE SURPRISED

Eugene marvels at what is being achieved by the Oblate missionaries in their parish missions.

My dear Father Vincens, the Lord be praised for what he has accomplished by means of your ministry and dear Father Dassy’s. Good master as he is, he wanted to give you some encouragement and he let his blessings accompany your words.

They are the instruments being used by God and the more they allow themselves to be the co-operators of the Savior, the more blessings are given to the people.

Like us I’m sure you give all the credit for our work’s success to his grace and his grace alone.
That’s what gets through to the heart while our words merely enter the ear, and here we see precisely where the immense difference lies between our sermons and those of fashionable preachers which are infinitely superior in other respects. At the voice of the missionary miracles abound and he is so struck by the wonder of so many conversions that the poor instrument of these marvels is the first to be surprised, and while praising God and rejoicing he humbles himself in his littleness and nothingness.

The co-operator of the Savior is a generous instrument through whom God works miracles:

What sign of approbation can come up to a miracle, and never were there greater ones than those that are worked on missions, those you have yourself worked.

Letter to Ambroise Vincens, 17 January 1835, EO VIII n 503

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WE MUST NOT TRY TO GO FASTER THAN GOD URGES US

The demands of the missions were far greater than the small number of Oblates could accomplish. Yet, new members could not be manufactured at will. It all depended on God calling people to this way of life.

The novitiate is going well; there are two priests who are about to issue forth fully-armed for war, on the devil of course. Most of the others have finished their theology, and they will be priests in the year following their oblation. In the meantime we must suffer in patience, and especially not try to go faster than God urges us. He knows the needs of his Church and our good will.

Letter to Bruno Guigues, 17 January 1835, EO VIII n 502

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IT’S NO SMALL CONSOLATION TO SEE THE LORD DIRECTING OUR MEN’S STEPS LIKE THIS, GIVING THEM HIS ASSISTANCE AND WORKING MIRACLES BY THEIR HOLY MINISTRY

Eugene rejoices at the accomplishments of his family.

My dear Father Guigues. I have, it is true, received a letter from Father Vincens, but it refers me to the information that you were to have given me for details of his mission. I have some information about it, but that does not excuse Father Vincens from making an exact report of everything that happened, beginning with the disappointments of the opening days, etc.
For their first attempt, our two missionaries must be pleased with themselves. What a good account they gave of themselves in that frightful country. It’s no small consolation to see the Lord directing our men’s steps like this, giving them his assistance and working miracles by their holy ministry.
It’s the same everywhere they go. The letters that reach me from the Upper and Lower Alps are full of marvels. Here at Auriol, where four of our men are giving the mission under the direction of Father Guibert, it is like our own times all over again: just think of our two apprentices renewing a countryside like that you described! Never stop thanking God for such signal favours, I forgot to mention what our three poor abandoned missionaries are doing in their turn in Switzerland.

Letter to Bruno Guigues, 17 January 1835, EO VIII n 502

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LET’S GO STRAIGHT FOR OUR OBJECTIVE BY THE SIMPLICITY OF OUR MINISTRY

The cooler months of the year were the period when the Oblate parish missions were preached – especially in the rural villages where the inhabitants were busy in the spring, summer and fall with their crops. Although Eugene could not directly participate in these activities, he was the one who coordinated the personnel and spirit of the missions. This was especially important as the majority of the Oblates were very young. Several of his letters in early 1835 deal directly with the missions.

What you tell me about the effect produced by occasional sermons given at Grenoble confirms me in the attitude I have always adopted of dissuading our men from this type of activity which has never been the cause of a single act of love of God, let alone produce a conversion.
Let’s stick to our missions, retreats, catechetical instructions, this is the way grace communicates itself to souls.
Let’s go straight for our objective by the simplicity of our ministry and leave human considerations to those who seek something other than God.

Letter to Bruno Guigues, 17 January 1835, EO VIII n 502

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YOU CAN SEE THAT THE BLOOD IS CIRCULATING IN OUR VEINS

As the Oblate Superior, Eugene was the one with overall responsibility for the religious life, the mission and the spirit of the Missionaries. He kept his finger on the pulse of the congregation through regular contact with each one, and expected regular letters and reports from each Oblate.

My dear Father Mille, you mustn’t think I’m in a bad humour if I don’t write much: it really isn’t my fault, but I can’t keep up with all my affairs, and my correspondence must necessarily feel the effect. But that is no reason why you should deprive me of your letters. As a rule one is due at least once a month, not counting special occasions such as missions, retreats, etc.
Goodbye. I thank your dear colleagues for their kind letters. I reply with an affectionate embrace and a blessing for them as for you.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 15 January 1835, EO VIII n 501

He reflects some of this to Father Aubert

I’ve received a very consoling letter from Father Vincens at N.-D. de l’Osier; Father Mille, superior of N.- D. du Laus, has written me in his turn; Father Bernard continues to work at Billens and the others too; I have just sent Father Moreau to lend a hand to our two Corsicans (ed. Fathers Guibert and Telmon who had been chosen to begin an establishment in Corsica).
From all this you can see that the blood is circulating in our veins.

Casimir Aubert, as the director of formation of the novices who was responsible for helping them to develop a missionary zeal, was asked to share these inspiring descriptions with them.

Tell our students about it for their edification. It will re-kindle their zeal, for they must be given frequent talks on the principal end of the Institute.

Letter to Casimir Aubert, 11 January 1835, EO VIII n 500

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THESE OUTBURSTS DO MORE DAMAGE, AND HARM YOU MORE THAN YOU THINK

Everything was not always rosy in community life. Father Honorat was the hard-working superior of the Calvaire community in Marseilles and seemed to be going through a rough patch – as a result of which his community suffered, and Eugene had to intervene.

My dear Father Honorat … once and for all I ask you in all seriousness to abate your rage every time someone does not go along with your way of thinking. Those gentlemen of ours who asked you yesterday on my behalf for the theology book that was needed for Father Telmon to prepare his class went away scandalized by your manner of refusal. You paid no regard to the fact that there was a novice amongst them. Today you went after Father Sicard because he asked you in my name for the items he needs. Do you really think that these Fathers are obliged to put up with your bad temper? I assure you that they were far from edified. Father Sicard told me that he was afraid you were going to strike him.
I am appealing to you to exercise more control over yourself. These outbursts do more damage, and harm you more than you think.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 1834, EO VIII n 499

Father Honorat was a good and generous missionary and highly respected by Eugene, thus this reprimand needs to be seen in context, and as a reminder to all of us that we are not always aware of the consequences of some of our rash words, especially if we are tired and overworked.

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