The Archbishop of Aix, who changed his mind nearly as often as he changed his clothes, also decided to draw profit from the situation. Leflon gives us the picture:

Forever changing with the tide and poorly disposed toward Father de Mazenod, whose interests Maunier and Deblieu had worked together to damage to justify their own defections, Bishop de Bausset quickly followed in his suffragan’s footsteps and announced his intention of reclaiming all his subjects from the Missionary Society. Nothing further was needed to throw panic into the community at Aix; two more priests decided to leave; Moreau for the Trappists and the other to join his diocese. According to Rey, the scholastic Jeancard, who would one day become the auxiliary Bishop of Marseilles, was also ready to leave, although his actual leaving did not take place until 1834. Each mail brought the Founder news of impending withdrawals which might easily turn into a stampede and mark the beginning of the end.

Once again, the Founder faced the issue squarely. His first concern was to restore the confidence of the motherhouse which had been severely shaken by the decision of the Fréjus Council and by Bishop de Bausset’s adoption of that decision. A long letter to Father Courtès, therefore, undertook to point out its weak points.   Leflon II p. 247

It is a great crisis of which the consequences can be terrible…; but His Grace the Archbishop was not unaware that we were making vows. Was he not presumed to approve them when he continued to employ us as he did? I would be curious to know if our casuists from Fréjus consider the vows that St. Ignatius made at Montmartre with his companions to be null!
How many religious bodies have begun by thus engaging themselves before the formal approbation of the Church! The whole archiepiscopal administration knew of our engagements and made no complaint. I had spoken thereof to M. Duclaux who saw nothing other than what was quite edifying in that. All that proves there was no undue rush. The Society of M. Coudrin, spread over several dioceses of France and of which the headquarters is at Picpus, at Paris, makes vows as we do; never have the bishops complained about them; apparently the demon is more hostile to us than others.
Do not worry much. I fear lest this may do you harm. It is a new worry for me for, at present more than ever, I ask God that he will keep you as the apple of his eye.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 10 October 1823, EO VI n.115


“Vows made in storms are forgotten in calm.”    Thomas Fuller

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What a hard time this must have been for the budding community. It must have been a time filled with fear and doubt, particularly for those in Aix, wondering who would be called by their Bishop to be the next to go. I would think most certainly the men would have all been questioning themselves, do they stay or do they go. And if they stayed then how did they stay. Did they simply ‘dig in their heels’ ? Their lives in Aix could not have been easy. It may have been what they felt called to but that did not necessarily make it easy, and with a group who were speaking ‘with the authority of the Church’. Wow.

    And there was little that Eugene could do from where he was. Has this ever happened to me in some way, in my life? Of course – it happens to all of us, maybe in smaller ways, but still it happens. How do we handle it? Do we give up, do we just give in to the ‘authority’ whatever or whoever that may be. Do we continue to fight but in such a manner as to do it without love? I keep thinking of the phrase from a hymn “to walk humbly with God”.

    Eugene did not come out with guns blazing. He did not deny his truth but he thought of those around him on both sides and prayed. “Do not worry much. I fear lest this may do you harm. It is a new worry for me for, at present more than ever, I ask God that he will keep you as the apple of his eye.” He loved and I believe he was thinking of how to continue on (with all that he believed he was being called to be and do) that would be for the building up and life of his society. He was about ‘building up’, not tearing down for he truly loved the Church.

    It’s funny but when I first came here this morning and read, I could not immediately find much that I could relate to. I was tempted to just think of it as a story and then was surprised that I would in some ways relate it to something in my life – not in great big ways that would change the course of a community, a society, a congregation, but most certainly in a small way that would or could affect me, my community, those around me. I can’t say that I have received any answers to what is happening in my life, but certainly a bit of insight. This reflection has given me strength to continue on, to move and live with love. I cannot say that I feel filled with right or might, just that I am maybe “on the right track”. And for that I am grateful. I have received much support and love, enough for sure to wrap around myself as I put one foot forward in front of the other. It is enough.

    I do not know if it is tiredness or what but I am unable to wrap myself around the quote. What am I missing?

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