THE FIRST OBLATE TO DIE

Jourdan never recovered from the mental anguish he suffered from and died on 20 April 1823, a few months after his oblation. He was thus the first Oblate to die in the Society.

Father Courtès, who was his superior at the time at Aix, wrote these few lines, the only ones we have on the circumstances surrounding his death: “[Father Jourdan’s] personality was gentle, shy and tended toward scrupulosity.” Father de Mazenod had written several letters to him from Paris “to bring reassurance to a conscience that was totally disoriented. The good advice offered was all in vain. The illness was making alarming progress. The person who at the time was in charge of the house at Aix, too inexperienced to tell the difference between a question of morality finding its source in mere scrupulosity and that which might arise from a mental aberration, never thought of adopting extreme measures until too late.” Bourrelier was at his bedside day and night. “One moment of inattention on the custodian’s part produced consequences forever regrettable. Finally, the wretched sick man, having exhausted his moral and physical strength, died on a Sunday. Father Jourdan had the makings of a man fit for community life. Gentle and humble, he would for a long time have edified the Society by his regularity and his obedience, if his scrupulosity, too long overlooked, had not damaged his brain and destroyed a life still so young.”…

Quoted by Yvon Beaudoin in ” Jourdan, Jacques Antoine” in Oblate Historical Dictionary, Volume 1.

Eugene wrote to all the Oblates to re-assure them:

What shall I say to you about the misfortune which has brought consternation to us all? I am dumbfounded and can scarcely believe it but I do not share your fears about the salvation of his soul. I finished yesterday in a most confident mood the five Masses that our Rules prescribe and, as our other Fathers will have done as much, I hope that the good God will have delivered him from purgatory and that he is enjoying at this moment the glory of heaven.
His was a very beautiful soul. Who knows? Perhaps this poor brother had never sinned mortally. Oh! I repeat, I have the greatest confidence that he is saved.

Letter to Father Sumien, 2 May 1823, EO VI n 103

Three years later, reflecting on this event, Eugene was to write to Henri Tempier :

We could count on our Jourdan who was very saintly, and whose death was of a kind that could not be imputed to his will.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 24 May 1826, EO VII n 242

 

Faith draws the poison from every grief, takes the sting from every loss, and quenches the fire of every pain; and only faith can do it.”     Josiah Gilbert Holland

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One Response to THE FIRST OBLATE TO DIE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I hear no harsh condemnation here, no judgements, simply a shared sorrow. This speaks to me today of tremendous sorrow, of incredible compassion and love (although those two are really part of each other), great faith and hope.

    It is powerfully written and we can almost feel and taste the sorrow and pain of Jourdan and those around him, those in his community. Dear Eugene, taking the time to write to his family, to console, to reassure, to remind, as a father does. Having read the letter written by Eugene to Jourdan we know how much he loved, cared for Jourdan. We see someone suffering and we (even though knowing we cannot) try to find ways to alleviate the pain – if no other way than just by offering our presence and prayers. Often that is all we can do. The thought that keeps returning is that God created/creates each one of us simply to love us.

    Eugene states: “…I hope that the good God will have delivered him from purgatory and that he is enjoying at this moment the glory of heaven …I have the greatest confidence that he is saved.” Eugene has faith, a surety that Jourdan is at rest, with God, ‘enjoying the glory of heaven’. Eugene’s love of Jourdan and even greater (if I can use the comparative) love of God, faith, total trust in God’s love for each of us.

    Finally this is speaking to me somehow of how as members of a community, a family, we each in our sorrows and in our joys touch and affect those around us. It is never a solitary thing and even though we might not be able to see it, our pain as well as our joy touches others. It is all with and through God – that is the only way it could “be”. Indeed “Faith draws the poison from every grief, takes the sting from every loss, and quenches the fire of every pain; and only faith can do it.”

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