AT THE SERVICE OF BOREDOM PERSONIFIED

A few years’ earlier Eugene had written about serving God in situations in which he felt no attraction at all:

If tired out body and soul, I want to seek some rest in a good book or in prayer, etc., and the business of the house obliges me to go on some boring errand or make some tedious visits, persuaded that preference must always be given to what God requires over what one would oneself desire, etc., I will not hesitate, and I will do it with such good grace that, supposing I had the choice, I would prefer what the service that God has confided to me requires to what I would have a greater personal liking for.

Retreat Notes, July-August 1816, O.W. XV n 139

 It is not often that in Eugene’s writings that he lets his guard down and writes a humorous judgement on others. Writing to the 20 year-old Adolphe Tavernier – a member of the youth congregation and then a lawyer, with whom he was to maintain a friendship for the rest of his life – he describes a boring visitor and how he went out of his way to welcome him patiently:

Yesterday I was going over your little letter again and was about to answer it when “boredom personified” arrived and settled himself comfortably in my presence dressed up in all his finery; he sat down on my poor sofa as if on his throne, and full of his brand of wisecracks he made himself so comfortable that he did not budge until nine o’clock. Blessed by that bell which came, alas, too late to rescue me from his terrible blows. Indeed, had it been permissible to give in to its natural effect, I would have fallen fast asleep at the very feet of the throne where I was slumped. But no: my grim task was to do violence to nature and entertain the personage who was slowly killing me.

Letter to Adolphe Tavernier, 12 October 1819, O.W. XV n.151

 

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.”   Saint Francis de Sales

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2 Responses to AT THE SERVICE OF BOREDOM PERSONIFIED

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    To do with “good grace” something that must be done but which is onerus or boring. I have to admit that “good grace” are not always the words that come to mind to describe how I might start to go about those tasks which do not appear to be life-giving. I have certainly gotten better over the years or maybe I have just become more adept at covering up what is initially going on inside of me, my thoughts about it all. I do not know that I would be able to say as Eugene did; “I will not hesitate, and I will do it with such good grace that, supposing I had the choice, I would prefer what the service that God has confided to me requires to what I would have a greater personal liking for.”

    I loved this – to be able to see his very humaness and his sense of humor – that brought a smile and a giggle. We have all been in similar positions, at least I know that I have. And I know that I have not always been filled with patience or forgiveness at the time. I can only hope that my thoughts were not written on my face. I think in the future when such an occassion arises I will try to remember this story – if nothing else it will put a smile on my face and make me feel better about the whole thing.

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    As I reflect upon these words of the founder, I could see how contemporary words could say a similar thing. “What we water grows”. If we water frustration, frustration grows, if we water impatience, impatience grows, if we water the sense of entitlement, yet the ego grows and we come to believe that the world circle around “MOI”.
    Some time doing things that I may not like to do, if I change my attitude, the time flies by and it wasn’t as painful as I thought.
    We are having record heat at the novitiate 10 days of +38c / +100 f. and no rain. Pray for the farmers and prayer for rain.

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