It was far more important, however, to straighten out matters with Bishop de Bausset since the latter had planned to take more extreme measures. On October 22, 1823, the archbishop’s interview with Father Courtès, who had been delegated by the Founder to iron things out with His Excellency, lasted for two and a half hours and very quickly took on a stormy character. The prelate insisted that the “missionaries belonging to his diocese were not to renew their vows and his threat to recall them seemed to be the club he was using to ensure his strongly expressed wishes of being carried out.” What was even more serious, if we can judge from the reply which Father de Mazenod sent to Courtès, a formal indictment gave an added sharpness to the notification regarding these decisions.

Leflon II p. 249.

Eugene’s reaction was to place his faith in God, who is the author of the evangelical counsels, to which the Missionaries had vowed themselves.

I have found it quite easy in my heart to pardon the Prelate for the calumnies of which I am willing to believe he is only the echo…
The Society is strongly assailed by the tempest but let us not lose courage… It is not difficult to perceive in all this a kind of aversion for the evangelical counsels and that makes me hope that He who, the first, made them honorable will take in hand the defense of His work.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 23-25 October 1823, EO VI n. 116

With faith in God, the Missionaries must persevere:

Let us not lose courage, we can only be destroyed if we allow it and that we will never do. I groan to be far from you. I grieve that you are alone in moments when we would need to share mutually our sentiments and our energy. It is too true that we are afflicted, profoundly afflicted, but we will not let ourselves be beaten… Even were we to be dispersed, we would not be less united.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 29 October 1823, EO VI n. 117


Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”   Vince Lombardi

This entry was posted in LETTERS and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Due to the big winter storms I did not get into Ottawa until after three am and then after four before getting home. I must admit to looking at this last night while waiting for my luggage, the next installment. But was too tired to be able to grasp anything beyond the words in the title.

    Again though I am struck with the similarities of what was happening 200 years ago and certainly today in my life. Were it I in the position of the Bishop, would I be any different than him? In my fear would I be tempted to listen to the wrong advice, to temptations that I would not normally heed? Might I cloak myself in some layers of piety and self-righteousness? And having some level of power might I then act in error? I would love to say no. Or if seeing a similar display would I stand firm and join in with the power? Would I turn away from it, hoping it might somehow right itself and that everything would eventually be okay and calm? None of those are winning situations at all, for anyone and yet I know only too well how easy it is to get side-tracked, to join in with the loudest voice(s), to become surrounded in false power and right or even in fear.

    To remain planted, to stay strong and true without striking out, with voices soft as thunder – that is difficult, and lonely (even in a group, in community for the decision will be made privately and alone with God and then draw upon the support of others who might surround you). Even as I write these words I think of St. Eugene, for that is certainly what he did in so many ways throughout his life. He did this with his church as he steadfastly brought the sacraments to those in prison, as he tore down barriers (physical) within the churches. I daresay as he lived out his love once he became Archbishop of Marseilles. He found a way to wed his love and respect for those most abandoned with his love of the church and all of her wrappings of wealth and power. The human equation, the both and.

    I find great inspiration and consolation with Eugene. “Let us not lose courage, we can only be destroyed if we allow it and that we will never do.” He would always find ways to move through and around, certainly a power to be reckoned with, and – respected. I find myself being pulled back, reminded, guided, all done in love. Exactly what is needed in my life. He seems to show me how I can shore up my weak fences and walls. It sounds like something out of an old movie about a saint or something, but called to a higher power, a better way of living and handling all that life throws at me. It’s not all the time, but it is true and there when I can but focus on it. And its not just something done to and for me, because even as I write this I realise that at some point I must make that decision to live in a particular way, and then to stay with it.

    It’s strange, but as I write this I find myself thinking of the Oblate Spanish Martyrs, together, standing firm Each of them having had to come to some type of an individual decision and then standing together as a group. “We can only be destroyed if we allow it and that we will never do.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *