As we have seen in previous entries, Eugene’s dynamism and generous zeal had led him to periods of exhaustion and illness. His journal shows how ill-health had been a teacher regarding his way of doing things. Now at Barjols, it was not a question of his having let himself into a self-inflicted exhaustion, but having to accept the consequences of freezing weather and physical weakness.

It was a frustration that he tried to remedy by natural means. I quote some parts of his correspondence because they give an insight into medical remedies of the time.

In the meantime, the salep flows and the barley water and all the rest of it. Both my body and mind are sick of it.

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

Salep is a potion of roots of various plants, containing starch, gum and licorice. A couple of days later, he continued to report on the remedies he was using to get his voice back:

Also I am better; I gulp down goat’s milk, donkey’s milk and fresh eggs. That does me good.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 14-15 November 1818, O.W. VI n.34

A week later:

My voice has come back, and my chest doesn’t hurt any more. However, I am to content myself to giving instructions which I tailor to the actual strength of my lungs. I do hear confessions but it is clear that I am not at all tired out by them.

Letter to Fortuné de Mazenod, 22 November 1818, O.W. XIII n.20


“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

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  1. anda says:

    When I was very young I wanted to be a singer but it was “suggested” to me that that was not real work in the sense of being a job for which I could be paid. Long story short, failure with rote memorization of names ended my studies in law school. Over the years I have associated myself with my voice – speaking and singing – but a nasty cold 20 years ago has resulted in any simple cold I get sitting in my vocal chords for 6 – 8 weeks. Being at less than good singing/speaking voice for 8 weeks in February/ March and getting another cold a month ago, I have trouble identifying who I am without my skills intact… So I have tried photography, but my eyesight in one eye has temporarily become clouded. Rather than the Serenity prayer, I have found myself praying “God, grant me patience… and I want it now!”

    My potential listeners are nothing like the audience St Eugene had / would have had, the conditions nowhere remotely like those he dealt with, and I lack the graces to be as humble or patient. But as a “hanger-on” to our associates group” I can “try” to learn.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Oh my! Dear Anda – it is funny and interesting how we see ourselves and how we see others. I have always loved your music and admired the gift of it because I am not gifted that way at all. But whenever I have run into you or have been at gatherings together I think that what I noticed was not your voice so much but how alive you are. There is a naturalness and a sense of caring that draws people (and me) to you. There is a joy that is visible and easily seen in you. That to me is the Anda that I see and am getting to know. Just thought you might like to know that.

    I do so thank God that I was created in an age and era that was not Eugene’s. And even as I say that I recognize the great “technology and sciences” that we have now (they give us excellent health care and knowledge), but it seems to me in reading this (and the other entries) that our basic humanness (who we are as persons) has not really changed all that much.

    Eugene seems ‘fed up’ with some of the treatment (I certainly don’t blame him) and yet there also seems to be a subtle shift as we read on. The piece from his letter of November 22, to Fortuné de Mazenod sounds and feels softer and more accepting. Perhaps he prayed is own version of the Serenity Prayer. To me it seems that Eugene was allowed and lived his periods (long or short) of dissapointment but then gradually surrendered to God and found ways to live acceptance, obedience and humility and to be fully alive. That seems to be our experience in this age as well. Some things do not really change at all. The best part, at least for me in this age, we have vivid examples of how to do it, the path has been marked somehow and we just have to look to see it.

  3. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. I had to laugh, because even before getting to the end of the posting I found myself thinking of the Serenity Prayer. And then to read on how Anda shared “Over the years I have associated myself with my voice – speaking and singing…” and thought “yup that is me”. What do I associate myself with – my doing, of course my doing. But it goes deeper than that, as only you know, so very much deeper than that. And then reading what a year ago “..surrendered to God and found ways to live acceptance, obedience and humility and to be fully alive.” and ” …the path has been marked somehow and we just have to look to see it.” Did I really write that – I want to call it drivel (anothers word). Of course I was speaking simply about Eugene, or was I?

    I would love to be able to say that I have surrendered to you O God and found those wonderful ways to live acceptance, obedience and humility but don’t think I am there yet, and the fully alive – well sometimes I think maybe I am getting there. It’s not just the “joy” of living or loving, because I think it includes the pain and struggle and then being joyous and loving along with it (not inspite of it). I have had tremendous doubts and questions and only very small quiet voices as answers and listening – well its coming – hopefully. I seem to be powerless over it all, and I guess I am who I am, warts and wants and all. And even in all of that I cling to “my beloved”.

    I have spent the last month hearing over and over Eugene speak his lenten homily at the Church of the Madeleine, a voice in my heart, but not understanding somehow until this morning when I read St Eugene speaks – his second from yesterday – even that was not a posting so you alone know how I got it. I read it only after telling you that I would not let go, or turn back, or give up. Telling you (maybe to reaffirm myself) how I would not give up on being a full Oblate Associate even though right now there does not seem to be a lot of hope for that to be a reality here in this province, it seems so easy in other countries and I wonder why it has to be so hard here. You will need to straighten that out because it remains so very clear and strong within me. It has to do with Eugene and his charism and I do not see it being divorced from the Oblates. Help me out here. This calling business – it is a surety that is is messy and painful -and yet there is a certain joy in saying yes to it, to you, but the living it – a whole different story. You gave me these desires and love and let me to Eugene so surely it is up to you speak plainly if you want otherwise. “who can know the ways of God?” Not I I think. My roommates think I am crazy and should just quit everything to do with the Oblates, a bit of a fool in a way. And who knows perhaps I am. But all I seem to want to do is follow where you call me, “come” you say and I say yes without knowing where or how.

    This morning I know that I heard you say “my love is enough for you”. I wrote it down – my love is enough for you. I thought at first it was scripture but that turned out to be St. Paul and “my grace”. The voice was small but I know what I heard. It stopped me in my tracks as I am want to do when you speak to me, or when I hear you. Your voice, I cannot put words to describe it and yet I know it immediately I hear it. My love is enough for you and my only response can be; yes I want it all, I want all of it, it is all that I want.

    I again thank you that I live in the times that I do. And yet even now there are the ways that you get me to stop, force me to look at that deepest part of me and allow light to pull back the layers that bury you and I. No less painful than the stuff that Eugene had to eat and struggle with, but I am glad I am where I am. This morning at Mass the priest started with “I greet you in the name of the Father, and of the Son ….” He did not have his arms open wide, but they were, yours were and I thank you. That was how I began our liturgy, in your arms, on the cross.

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