The life of anyone involved in public service and ministry is always open to criticism. In receiving criticism it is easy to allow it to make us blind to the good that is really being achieved.
The pastor of Brignoles, whose “age and infirmities” had prevented him from taking part fully in the mission, had written a critical letter to Eugene in which he condemned the Missionaries for not having left enduring results after the mission in his parish.
You tell anyone who is willing to listen that: “the fire left only ashes”. If that were the case, you would have succeeded in filling us with deeply felt sadness; and even though we certainly knew that we were not responsible for such defection, we would be nonetheless afflicted by it; but, thanks be to God, I find something in your own letter to reassure me.
Eugene then pointed out, quoting from the old pastor’s own letter, that some of the “fire” had remained burning in the parish.
First, you told me that no girls went to the feast-day dance; that is already something, that half of the population remembered the principles that we had taught them. Who knows if the young men in great number would not have followed the example of the girls if, supported as they should have been, they would have found the necessary help in a Congregation? That was our view. Moreover, you tell me that the dissipation did not nearly produce the results that I seemed to fear; this is due to good things remembered from the mission.
The pastor had also contradicted himself on the question of attendance at Mass and communion.
There remains only to reject your blaming me for not speaking enough about the Sunday Mass. If your age and infirmities had allowed you to take part in the morning instructions, which gave an explanation of the Commandments, you would be aware that we said everything we ought to about this matter.
Letter to the Pastor of Brignoles, 23 August 1821, EO XIII n. 39
“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” Frank Howard Clark