I have reflected in detail on this letter of Eugene because it gives us an idea of the realistic difficulties facing the Missionaries in their animation of parish missions. The letter ends rather harshly as Eugene reminds the pastor: “This letter will seem severe to you, especially if you have forgotten the content of your own.” However, Eugene had the responsibility of defending the good reputation of the ministry of the Missionnaires.

Your letter will stay with us as a memorial of man’s ingratitude. It will teach our missionaries that they should not expect any other reward from men for their work except insults and scorn, and that they should place their trust only in God… 
This letter will seem severe to you, especially if you have forgotten the content of your own. It is not, you should see it only as the necessary response to what I have received from you. In conscience I had to refute the charges which outrage my ministry and the group of which I am a part; but I have done so only in the interest of truth…
I am no less filled with veneration for you all of whose merits I know and appreciate, and I am no less disposed to prove to you now and always that you do not have a more devoted friend; these feelings are sincere and not incompatible with my desire to freely use the right to say what I think when someone unjustly attacks our conduct or intentions.

Letter to the Pastor of Brignoles, 23 August 1821, EO XIII n. 39


“The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment.”   Elbert Hubbard

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    My gosh – who knew that so much could come from one letter. I am reminded a little of what Ron Rolheiser wrote earlier this week carrying the tension when we love but not the abuse, not the lie.

    At first reading I wonder how Eugene manages to do it, to let go of what the pastor has written to him, to defend his missionaries and then to continue to love. I imagine the early hurt and possibly anger he felt on receiving the letter. If it had been me I would certainly have needed to wait a bit and cool down before responding. I would have needed to let God guide me. He defended himself and his missionaries step by step, not unkindly but certainly firmly. Then the coup de grace, he says that he loves the man – not just a quick ‘love ya’ but that he loves him and is a devoted friend. And rather than doubting his expression of love I believe it for this is where I see Eugene’s “all for God”, his turning himself over totally for God. This is where I see God loving and living through Eugene – pure and simple.

    How shall I love today? How shall I let go of what might rise up to meet me? How might I live out my own ‘all for God’ and allow God to love through me? Saint Eugene pray for me this day.

  2. David Morgan says:

    I enjoyed this series of St Eugene letter responses to the pastor at Brignoles. Reflections:

    – It shows how the Oblates work as specialists. Almost like a swat team, the Brothers arrive to lead a mission engagement at the request of the parish priest, and then move on.

    – It shows that Eugene was a strong leader able to communicate frankly and say what he needed to say, without glossing over the pastor’s critical letter or ignoring it.

    – It shows that St Eugene was human. There is a little sense of defending the Honour of the Brothers, Honour being one of the big 4 human pursuits that take us away from God according to St Thomas Aquinas.

    I agree with Eleanor that the love shining thru from St Eugene for the pastor from Brignoles is Grace to behold. Does my love for the other show through after their criticism? How do I handle criticism? What would Jesus say?

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