Not everyone in Aix was happy about Eugene’s departure and there was a sense of loss and insecurity in the community caused by the absence of this strong personality. Marseille was also not the only diocese in the south of France to be restored after the Revolution. The same thing happened in the neighboring diocese of Fréjus, and the new Bishop was looking for clergy. His attention was fixed on two of his men who were Missionaries in Aix and he began to demand their return.

Yvon Beaudoin explains the background: “Fathers Deblieu and Maunier, first companions of the Founder, left the Society in October, 1823. They accused Fathers de Mazenod and Tempier of having accepted the position of Vicars General of Marseilles and thus compromising the future of the Society and sacrificing it to the interests of a diocese and perhaps being motivated even by personal ambition (RAMBERT, I, 374). This, however, was only a pretext. They came from the diocese of Fréjus which, like Marseilles, had just been re-established. The new bishop, Bishop C. A. de Richery recalled priests originating in his territory and declared null any engagements taken in prejudice of a third party, by priests who had previously promised obedience to a bishop. Already little inclined to the exigencies of religious life and henceforth disengaged from their vows and attracted by promises of important functions, the two Fathers profited from the circumstances to return to Fréjus.” (Footnote EO VI n. 114)

Hippolyte Courtès was now the superior of the Aix community and had written to inform Eugene of Deblieu’s imminent departure. Eugene responded:

Although I was expecting for a long time, my dear friend, the apostasy whereof you announce the imminent explosion, this infamy is so monstrous that I can scarcely persuade myself that it be possible. This is the end result of so much patience and support given to a member more imperfect than it is possible to conceive…
…Adieu, my dear beloved, your sentiments are for my heart truly a consolation; but, in this painful circumstance, it costs me much not to be surrounded by all my true children so that we may help each other mutually to bear a misfortune which is common to us, since it weighs on the Society.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 9 October 1823, EO VI n. 114


“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”    Martin Luther King, Jr.

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  1. David Morgan says:

    “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  That is so true for me at this moment in my life. Not that I have not had Faith up until now, my attendance at a men’s retreat recently has set off a whole new explosion of the heart. I am more able to feel the connected between us all. I am starting to lead with my heart and not my head. It’s all about love. That’s what Martin Luther King’s quote above says to me.

    I have been reading about the “palace” intrigues these last few days. While I am amazed at their extent, I certainly sense that there is nothing shocking about holy men having squabbles over petty jealousies. In today’s gospel reading, members of Nazareth Synagogue were astonished at Jesus teaching to the point of being deeply offended by him. Jealousy and envy were prevalent then, in Marseilles and Aix and indeed in the Church now.

    I love today where Eugene asks that we may help each other mutually to bear a misfortune that is common to us. That is a heart felt statement.

    I journey to Madonna House tomorrow.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Like David I am not shocked by the political ‘going ons’ of Eugene’s time. It is saddening though. These two [young] men who were so much a part of the community, the society, leaving for the reasons they gave. To me this speaks of betrayal and manipulation, petty jealousies as you put it Dave. These two young men who were no doubt very zealous and trying to be open to the movement of God, of the Spirit within them, managing to get caught up in the manipulation of others who they may not have overly liked but who they listened to and who they needed to believe for some reason. Were they fed “a line” – perhaps, who knows but I wonder how much they then suffered because of their decision to leave. I wonder if they thought of what effect their leaving would have on their brothers. At the end of the day, everyone concerned, touched and feeling the pain of betrayal and loss.

    What we do to ourselves and each other. It continues today. I know that I am ‘guilty’ of falling into the trap. Please God that I am not a part of anyone laying such a trap. For I know that my own needs and wounds can colour how and what I see.

    For myself, I need to listen, truly listen to what I am hearing and then discern and listen to that sometimes very small soft whisper in my heart. What do You want of me Lord? Where will You have me go? Let me not get too caught up in myself, my wants. Let it focus – not on myself, but on You. Let it be Your words and not just my wants that are heard. Fill me that it be all who I listen to and hear, and love. And on that small, narrow path that you have called me to walk, let me continue to move – be it one step at a time, over one stone at a time, through the darkness. For it is not just myself who suffers when I fall down, or when I stray from the path you have set before me, but all those who I love, all those who love me.

    We pay a terrible price when we are divided and not one. “…we may help each other mutually to bear a misfortune which is common to us, since it weighs on…” Together will be the only way we move forward.

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