Immediately after the first Mass of Hippolyte Courtès, Eugene wrote to the 20 year old Adrien Chappuis. He had been a member of the Youth Congregation and had wanted to become a Missionary as well. His behaviour as a law student, however, was causing grave concern to Eugene.
I include this letter because it shows Eugene’s fundamental value of oblation, put into practice.
Dear Adrien, would you believe it? During the most precious moments, you never ceased being present to me…
After the Mass and during the one that followed, my soul, which was constantly permeated with the intimate presence of God who just manifested himself to us, gave into a feeling of sadness it had never experienced before. First of all, the sight of my sins covered me with great confusion, especially when I weighed God’s goodness against my ingratitude, I groaned bitterly and begged pardon with tears;
immediately you were once again present in my thoughts, but then I felt the full weight of my care and an ardent desire for your true happiness, contradicted and compromised by the obstacles that you always put in the way. Knowing the superabundant graces that the Lord has granted you since he confided you to me, and the experience of the carelessness, not to say contempt, with which you rejected them…
Courtès, your childhood companion, your fellow disciple, filled with consolation, lifted up to heaven, because he was docile to my counsel, faithful to grace; and you who, even though in another state, could proportionately feel the same happiness, given over to dissipation, lacking in good works and merits, having sown only wind, able to harvest only tempests, because, forever refusing my kind advice, the counsels of my friendship, you have wanted to follow another route than the one I traced out for you.
This striking contrast threw me once again into a kind of inner desolation which made me offer even more ardent prayers for your salvation, to the point of offering to God, as I did several times, my own life in exchange for your perseverance and sanctification. I find some consolation in that thought, for majorem charitatem nemo habet ut animam suam ponat quis pro amicis suis [ed. John 15:13. “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”]
Farewell. May you one day understand my heart and console it!
Letter to Adrien Chappuis, 31 July 1820, O.W. XIII n. 31
Eugene’s attitude of oblation, of being prepared to give everything for the salvation of this young man did have positive results. Adrien completed his legal studies and later became Inspector General of Finances in Paris. He always maintained excellent relations with Eugene.
“As men cherish young plants at first and fence them about with hedges to keep them from hurt, but when they are grown they remove these things and leave them to the wind and weather, so God sustains His children at first with props of inward comforts, but afterwards He exposes them to storms and winds because they are better able to bear them.” Richard Sibbes