THE CONSOLATION OF DYING IN THE ARMS OF THEIR BROTHERS IS CERTAINLY SOMETHING FOR A GOOD RELIGIOUS WHO KNOWS THE VALUE OF SUPERNATURAL AIDS

While looking forward to Victor Arnoux’s ordination, Eugene received the news that this young man had become seriously ill.

I will speak first of what concerns me most, this being the state of our holy Bro. Arnoux. I cannot console myself while knowing he is at grips with death, and it seems I hear at every moment some fatal announcement.

The scholastic, Arnoux’s parents were known to Eugene and so he expresses his concern for them.

My sorrow increases with the grief in which I see his truly good father, abounding with wisdom as with religion. He would be appreciative to know precisely the state of the malady for both he and his wife would be in despair were their dear child to die without their having had the consolation of seeing and embracing him. Write to him then directly to tell him frankly how things are and whether in putting off their appearance at Aix until the time of the fair of Beaucaire, that is to say, towards the 16th of next month, they may run the risk of not seeing their child again. You can state frankly the situation just as it is. If the case is urgent, whatever the affairs which keep them at Gap, they will leave everything ….
I am not in favour that we send away from our communities our sick when they are in danger of death. They have the right to a care of the best order and the consolation of dying in the arms of their brothers is certainly something for a good religious who knows the value of supernatural aids.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 26 June 1826, EO VII n 249

 

“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”   Martin Luther King, Jr.

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PERHAPS IT IS NECESSARY IN HEAVEN THAT THERE BE IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LAMB REPRESENTATIVES OF ALL THE FAMILIES WHO COMBAT ON EARTH FOR THE GLORY OF HIS NAME

Two young Oblates, from Gap, were preparing for their priestly ordinations on 30 July 1826: Joseph Alphonse Martin and Victor Arnoux. The latter was young and needed a dispensation from the Bishop in order to be ordained.

I hope that Ferrucci will send you the dispensation of age for Arnoux although he has forgotten to have me sign the request. With what impatience I wait for the ordination of these two priests, Martin and Arnoux! It is like rebirth for me to see these two children raised to the priesthood.

As Eugene rejoiced in the addition of two new priests, he recalled that Jacques Marcou was on his deathbed and reflected on a community of Oblates around the presence of the Lamb in paradise.

May the good God keep Marcou with us! Losing him is not what we want but the Lord knows our needs. Perhaps it is necessary in Heaven that there be in the presence of the Lamb representatives of all the families who combat on earth for the glory of his name: in this case, we could count on our poor Jourdan, who was very saintly, and whose death was of a kind that could not be imputed to his will.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 24 May 1826, EO VII n 242

 

“A friend who dies, it’s something of you who dies.”   Gustave Flaubert

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THE CONCERN OF THE FATHER FOR THE HEALTH OF HIS OBLATE FAMILY

Eugene’s intuitive and loving personality is expressed in these letters as he reflects on the health of his Oblate sons who were ruining their health through their missionary zeal.

I commiserate with our dear Suzanne; these pains are a sore trial. Tell him to obtain a flannel waistcoat, or at least a sleeve. But let him rest, although at Marseilles he may be tempted to do the contrary. This is not just advice that I give him. If such a thing is too difficult at Marseilles, let him go elsewhere, provided that he rests… The ailment of our poor Suzanne concerns me. What I have found good is rubbing with oil of sweet almonds, mixed with a certain drug, and very smelly. I embrace once more our dear patient whom I love too much not to feel all his ills.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 24 May 1826, EO VII n 242

I am worried about the persistence of the pain of Fr. Suzanne; recommend to him to take the waters that they have ordered for him, as is necessary. As for Fr. Marcou, I do not cease to recommend his health to the good God. I have had him prayed for by the Religious of the house where I am. You must not be in a hurry to have him travel; there are examples that, with extraordinary care, a person who has vomited blood can be restored….
You have not told me if Fr. Dupuy no longer suffers from his former tiredness. Give him my best greetings, as well as to Fr. Jeancard, who also must need rest. I embrace him very tenderly, as well as all of you.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 30 May 1826, EO VII n 246

 

“Treasure the love you receive above all. It will survive long after your good health has vanished.”   Og Mandino

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GIVE HIM MORE CARE THAN HE COULD HAVE IN HIS FAMILY HOME, EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO SELL LINEN AND CHALICES

Writing to Fr Courtès, the superior of the Aix community, about transferring the dying Jacques Marcou to the Aix community from the Nimes community, he expressed his paternal concern.

But how much the happiness that I promise myself on seeing you again is going to be marred by the state in which our dear Father Marcou is at present. Therein lies a sorrow which nothing can console. The fear of losing this child saddens me excessively. I would wish to precede you all, which is only right since age would qualify me, although not old, to be the father of all of you.
I need not urge you, if Fr. Marcou comes to Aix, to give him more care than he could have in his family home, even if you have to sell linen and chalices. I do not think the climate of Marseilles suits his health, the air of Aix will be better for him, only you will need to designate a place to use as infirmary.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 31 May 1826. EO VII n 247

 

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.”   Mother Teresa

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EVEN IF WE HAVE TO SELL EVERYTHING DOWN TO OUR SHOES, LET NOTHING BE SPARED TO LOOK AFTER HIM

Arriving in Turin, Eugene found mail from Marseille, containing news of the serious illness of Jacques Marcou. He had been one of the first members of Eugene’s youth congregation in Aix in 1813 and had joined the Oblates in 1821. Eugene had a fatherly affection for this young man, whom he had known since childhood (cf http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=1763)

The first thing to which I reply, because it affects me to the depths of my soul, is the sad news of the dangerous illness of our good Fr. Marcou. I am desolate because so rare is recovery in such cases that I cannot cajole myself into believing I shall see him cured. However some I have met here and there who, even advanced in age, have spit and vomited blood; so you must not lose courage and especially do not fail to give hope to the sick man.
I need not tell you with what care and charity you must treat him. Even if we have to sell everything down to our shoes, let nothing be spared to look after him;
if his relatives were to propose that they take him home, do not consent; it is amongst his brothers that he ought to find all the services his condition demands, day and night, spiritual as well as temporal.
The only thing I recommend to you is to take all suitable precautions lest, if sadly it happens to this dear Father to fall into consumption, that our other young Fathers may not be thus exposed to some unfortunate contagion; you must mark all that he uses, etc. After that, or better say, above all, we must pray every day that the good God may preserve this good Father, if such be his holy will. I will say Mass for him for I have taken the resolution to reserve my Masses for the Society. Write something on my behalf to Fr. Marcou, to show him my very sincere and very lively affection.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 24 May 1826, EO VII n 242

 

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”   Anthony J. D’Angelo

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THE GOOD GOD SPARES OUR WEAKNESS BY LEADING US GENTLY TO HIS ENDS

Journeying towards France by slow stage coach, Eugene wrote to his Oblate family from Milan, where he was able to pray at the tomb of the patron saint of the de Mazenod family, St Charles Borromeo.

I have reserved my place for Thursday morning; I will be at Turin Wednesday evening or at the latest, Saturday morning. My first care will be to run to the post office to seek the letters you must have addressed to me there and which I am longing to receive, as it is indeed for a long time that I have been deprived of news of the family. I hope that you are all well… It is high time that I see you again. I dare not tell myself how long I have been living away from you. If I had considered that before leaving, I would have had much trouble deciding myself to set forth on a journey so prolonged.

Had he taken only human considerations into account, and had he known the prolonged difficulties he would have faced in Rome, he would never have had the courage to undertake this task. Yet, God led him gently step-by-step and Eugene had achieved all that was necessary.

The good God spares our weakness by leading us gently to his ends. Until now, it has been impossible to succeed better from every point of view…

He echoes the experience of St Paul:” “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

For the rest, the happiness of pressing my friends, my brothers, my children to my heart means everything to me on earth. I embrace you all with these sentiments; I embrace my uncle, mama, my sister and her children. This morning I thought of you all at the tomb of Saint Charles and am about to return there. Adieu, we are no longer so far from one another as when I was at Rome. Adieu.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 14 May 1826, EO VII n 240

 

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”   Mahatma Gandhi

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THE FIREPLACE WHERE THE MOTHER OF GOD PREPARED THE MEALS OF THE HOLY FAMILY

Eugene’s passionate love for God was the foundation of his life. It was not a dry intellectual relationship, but a holistic one that touched all aspects of his life, and particularly his affectivity. As he describes the house of Loreto, he meditates on the intimacy of that house thinking of how Mary prepared the meals for the holy family.

The Santa Casa [ed. Holy House] is situated in the middle of the church. The interior is the same as when carried by the Angels; so one sees walls of brick on three sides of the House; the back, behind the altar, arranged in a kind of small sanctuary, is entirely walled with what once were silver panels; today, alas! I think they are only of shiny brass. There is to be found the fireplace where the Mother of God prepared the modest and meager meals of the Holy Family.
The holy House is enclosed, I would say cloaked with marble, that is to say, the exterior wall seen from the church is entirely encrusted with marbles and statues of prophets and sibyls, as well as bas-relief representing several episodes of the life of the holy Virgin, such as the Presentation in the temple, etc.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 7 May 1826, EO VII n 239

 

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”   Aristotle

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ORAISON: COMMUNION WITH ALL LOVED ONES IN THE LOVING PRESENCE OF JESUS

On pilgrimage in Loreto, we see Eugene’s normal other-centered style of prayer in action. Throughout his life he always tried to be aware of the presence of God in his heart in everything that he did – and he carried all his loved ones in that same heart: his Oblate family and his blood family.

This morning I had the happiness to offer Mass in the revered house where the Son of God became incarnate … my intention was for the family, an intention extended to those worthy to belong to it…

An important moment for Eugene each evening is what we know as oraison. A time of communion with all those who were close to him in the Eucharistic presence of Jesus. (cf. http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=897 and other entries on the website by entering the search item “oraison”)

All our friends will not be surprised that I kept them in mind yesterday evening in the holy chapel, uttering a little prayer for each of them in particular. I did not come out until forced to do so by fatigue.
The piety of the faithful who come and go in the chapel, and who do not leave until they have kissed the walls several times, with an effusion of affection that is very touching, inspires me with inexpressible tenderness and causes me to be at one with them.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 7 May 1826, EO VII n 239

 

“Poetry is for me Eucharistic. You take someone else’s suffering into your body, their passion comes into your body, and in doing that you commune, you take communion, you make a community with others.”   Mary Karr

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ONE WELCOMES THE MOMENT WHEN OUR LORD COMES AGAIN INTO THE HOUSE IN WHICH HE LIVED ON THIS EARTH

Writing from Loreto to Tempier in France:

Without being yet much closer to you, I am nevertheless at 172 miles from Rome which I left on Ascension Day at half past one in the cab of the stage coach. The journey was quite happy and punctual for I arrived yesterday at eleven in the morning.

Loreto is famous for having, what tradition identifies as, the house of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, transported from Nazareth. For Eugene, this was an important opportunity to meditate on the incarnation. In celebrating Mass in this house he was keenly aware of the presence of Jesus, this time in the Eucharist and in the same place where he had been physically present during his lifetime.

This morning I had the happiness to offer Mass in the revered house where the Son of God became incarnate; it is not a palace but nonetheless it inspires sentiments that one does not experience in the palaces of the earth’s great ones. When one celebrates in this holy place, one keenly welcomes the moment when our Lord comes again into the house in which he dwelt during his sojourn on this earth.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 7 May 1826, EO VII n 239

 

“What a person takes in by contemplation, that he pours out in love.”   Meister Eckhart

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LIMPING OUT OF ROME

 Had dinner with the teologo Lanteri. Reserved a place in the carriage for Sunday the 30th, to return to France, by way of Loreto, Milan and Turin.

Roman Diary, 22 April 1826, EO XVII

 The weather was cold and damp; I do not know whether it is to that or to being somewhat overtired that I should attribute a very strong pain in the muscles of my left thigh and such weakness in that limb that I can hardly walk. I was supposed to leave tomorrow; I postponed it till Thursday.

Roman Diary, 29 April 1826, EO XVII

 Instead of getting better, I am getting worse. Nevertheless, I forced myself to go out; but I could walk only with extreme difficulty. When I got to the Marquis of Croza’s place, he wanted to have me take a ride in his carriage with him; that exercise did not do me any good, and when I wanted to come home, I thought I would not make it. If that keeps on, I will have quite a trip, since I have decided to end my stay and leave definitely on Thursday.

Roman Diary, 30 April 1826, EO XVII

The muscles in my leg are more painful and weak than ever. I could not go out today and I was able to say holy mass only with great difficulty. This discomfort seems very much like sciatica to me. If that is the case, I shall indeed have to arm myself with patience.

Roman Diary, 1 May 1826, EO XVII

 I do not know if I ought to regard this delay as quite fortunate in one way; but the fact is, I tell you so that someone may not alarm you unduly, that on Saturday, I caught a pain in the thigh similar to the one which struck me in the arm two years ago. I was not able to walk so you can imagine my predicament for God knows how much I use my legs. Happily the wife of a doctor who saw my pitiful state gave me a small phial of the same ointment which Trussy had ordered for my arm; believe me three applications sufficed to remove all pain and give me back the ability to walk. I am quite well now and I am going to leave without the slightest anxiety. I would have wished to dispense with mentioning to you this minor inconvenience but too many people saw me limp and, amongst others, two Frenchmen who leave today for the south of France. I feared that they might speak of me and that they might exaggerate my trouble in a way as to give you a fright, when it was nothing.
 I will be at Loreto on Saturday and will not leave until Tuesday; I count on being at Milan on Pentecost Day and will leave on the third day of the Feast if I find a conveyance.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 4 May 1826, EO VII n 238

After all that misery, a final smile: “The trouble with being a hypochondriac these days is that antibiotics have cured all the good diseases.”   Caskie Stinnett

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