Eugene’s concern for his Oblates was holistic – it included every aspect of their lives. He wanted then to be all for God, great saints, dedicated community members and zealous missionaries prepared to give their lives for their ideals. In order to do this, however, they needed to look after their health. They were young and energetic and in their generosity and missionary zeal they pushed themselves beyond their human capabilities. Eugene had to apply the brakes:

Eh bien! why do you behave in a such manner as to shorten your days? How is it that after the hard exertions you made at the mission of Tallard, after the fatigues and sufferings of the mission of Lauzet, where you had to struggle against hell and all the elements as well, the inclemency of weather being so rigorous that the people of that region could scarcely bear it, you go back to Tallard and rest yourself by preaching again twice a day and forget the care of your health to the point of confessing thirty hours without stopping!
And you would wish me, my child, not to be appalled by such behavior! You may very well say you are not tired at all, that you eat and sleep well, that does not suffice to appease me, such excess is destroying your existence. I do not wish you to expose yourself to the consequences that can result. That is to be understood in the future once and for all.

Letter to Marius Suzanne, 23 April 1823, EO VI n 102


It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think God must prefer quality to quantity.”      George MacDonald

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  1. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    This call to rest and care for our selves is not easy. For we learned it from the founder himself. How he too would work himself sick. And yet, I wonder if he saw himself in others? And isn’t it true for most of us. It is easier for me to say to you, take a break, have you had a day off? So each of us need each other to remind us of self care and invite the other simple to rest.
    Be gentle my brother, my sister and call me to the same.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think immediately of Eugene writing this to Marius and am filled with a smile. Eugene of all people exhorting someone to slow down and take care of himself. But it is in truth one of his more characteristic weaknesses and so who better to recognize it in others. And it is given with such incredible love, with the endearing tenderness of a parent to their child.

    I look at my own life and while it is true that I myself have slowed down, there is still within me a tendency to try to do more than I should, really more than I need to. I feel I should change that “more than I need to” to “more than I am called to”. I find myself needing to ask “why am I doing what I do?” Who am I serving? Is it God, is it by brothers and sisters, is it myself? If I am busy serving myself [building up myself somehow with good works etc] then I run the risk of not seeing Jesus in those I am with, those I am serving.

    And even if it is all done in the life and the fire of zealous love – still I do not believe God asks us to kill ourselves rather than to rest. I am thinking here of how Jesus was with his disciples, and how he would withdraw and go away to pray, how he seemed to take them with him – to learn, to prepare. He was not always “on”, nor did he ask his disciples to be that way.

    So who shall I rely on to be my Tempier, or my Eugene? Who will the voice of my God sound like. It is my family, my community, those around me in my daily life. Jack has said it so beautifully. It is you.

  3. anda says:

    Jack! Eleanor! AndFrank!!! Please, please remember this post!!!

  4. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    I hear you Anda. Thanks for always being there for support, encouragement and welcome.
    And to all, Blessed Foundation Day, 25 Jan, 1816.

  5. John Mouck says:

    What an appropriate posting on this the feast day of St. Francis de Sales!
    Here are 2 quotes from him:

    “And as a general rule, it is better to preserve more bodily strength than is absolutely necessary, than to damage it more than is necessary. Bodily strength can always be lowered if needful, but we cannot restore it at will.” (Introduction Part 3, Ch. 23)

    “It is this holy passion which causes so many books of piety to be written, so many churches, altars, pious houses to be erected, and in a word which makes many of God’s servants watch, labour, and die amid the flames of zeal which consume and spend them.” – St. Francis De Sales, Treatise on The Love of God Book 5, Ch. 9

  6. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I love the conversation! On-line community – but it’s community. Isn’t it absolutely wonderful how God works for, towards and among us!

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