Two months earlier, Eugene had accepted to do the parish mission in the town of Barjols because he recognized its urgency:

More than fifty pastors are asking insistently for a mission… However, I am inclined to give you preference. It seems to me that our duty is to rush to where there is the most urgent need. They asked for us at Marseilles; we could expect consolation there, whereas at Barjols we must await only contradictions and difficulty…

Letter to the Pastor of Barjols, 20 August 1818, O.W. XIII, n. 14

 Barjols was the main town of its district and was sometimes referred to as the “leather capital of France” because of its numerous tanneries and industry. It was known for the anti-religious sentiments of those who were in charge. The six Missionaries, who expected “contradictions and difficulties,” set out from Aix full of the apostolic enthusiasm and courage of their newly-made oblation. On arriving at Barjols, instead of finding hostility, they were overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome they received.

Our reception seemed like a triumphant march. Vespers had finished when we arrived; the whole population rushed pell-mell to meet us before the procession started. The principal townspeople, the mayor and his assistants in full regalia followed the clergy. 
When we arrived at the church, we found it crammed and as many people remained outside as there were inside

Letter to Henri Tempier, 10 November 1818, O.W. VI n. 32

 The “contradictions and difficulties” on the part of the authorities were to come, but the ordinary people were starved of spiritual nourishment and responded warmly to the presence and message of the Missionaries.


“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”       Nelson Mandela

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I like what Nelson Mandela said about courage. I do not know that I am able to conquer my fears, but I do find the courage to walk through them. They do seem to have a habit of popping up again and again, but it becomes almost easier to deal with and walk through them each time. They seem to be deeper, coming from a deeper place but then so is the recommiting that I must do (it does not seem to be a one time thing – for on another level it will happen over and over). Perhaps it is the freedom that comes from those commitments that allows us to move through the fears. The picture that comes to mind is of a spiral growing upward and although much of courage and the freedom seem to come by going deeper the awareness and consciousness seems to grow outward to include more. They (the fears, doubts, struggles as well courage, commitment and freedom) do not so much follow from one to another as to be in the same space (or time) and I move back and forth in and between.

    St. Eugene, by sharing his joy, his struggles and his commitment not only tells us it can be done and how to ‘get there’, but invites us to follow and walk with.

  2. John Mouck says:

    I have read this recount of this event in Eugene’s history in a previous post. What immediately pops into my head has little to do with courage (even though almost everything Eugene did took great courage), but rather making assumptions and “The Four Agreements”:

    1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

    2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
    Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

    3. Don’t Make Assumptions
    Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

    4. Always Do Your Best
    Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

    I would add to “Don’t take anything personally,” humility – I know that any good I accomplish doesn’t come from me but rather from Our Father manipulating my hands, teaching me what to speak; just as I, as a father, guided my daughters’ hands in mastering a fork and taught them words.

    Ahhhhh, maybe someday we will have the wisdom of the Toltec…haha

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