Eugene was always concerned about the health of the Oblates, but never concerned about his own. Here, the community of Aix tries to convince him that he must not pretend that he does not have a body with needs. Rey narrates:

The Aix house was always the favorite of Fr. de Mazenod – it was a home “for which his heart longed, and where he constantly wished to be.” For some days there was a question of his undergoing a treatment at the hot springs in Aix: a severe pain had suddenly afflicted his left arm and gave him no relief. Brother Guibert was the spokesman for all when he wrote to Founder “We beg you, dear Father, to take a little more care of yourself. I think you act as if you do not have a body. You are so necessary to us – and your arm above all. Why do you put off taking the waters to another time? What if the delay will be harmful to you? May the good God grant that all this has no further consequences … Take care of yourself, or come here and we will do it for you”

Rey I p.333

Do not worry any more about my arm, my good dear friend, it is completely cured; my journey will therefore be put off until after Easter for only necessity could have forced me to leave my chains at this moment. I thank you very much for the concern you have had for my temporary indisposition. I would have been consoled even if not healed from it by the pleasure that I would have experienced in being obliged to spend several days in a row with you.

Letter to Joseph Hippolyte Guibert, April 1824, EO VI n 132


“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”   Buddha

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  1. Richard Chelin omi says:

    This is really a passage from which one can learn, especially myself. I often find that many of my brothers for the sake of the mission forsake their health. Am I am one of them. And like Guilbert, we have brothers who remind us that our health is important for the mission so that we may help others. And with brothers supporting each other makes us share in our founder’s last words of Charity Charity Charity.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I read this and thought well I have never forgotten to take care of myself, take care of my body for the “mission” (I write it thus because that’s my little personal way of escaping and ignoring it in my life – sort of like saying this only applies to priests, to clerics who are missionaries). But have I ever done it, even just a little bit, for my career? Have I ever gotten so busy volunteering and doing “good and worthy” things that I totally ignored the needs of my body, like getting enough rest or good nourishment. Did I allow myself to become worn down through lack of attention? An imbalance.

    Part of it for me might come from an over developed sense of unworthiness, not being quite as good as another [so less than another]. And there’s the way that I was brought-up – you had to be almost dying in order to say that you were sick, so I learned early on how to ignore pains and aches. It was an imbalance.

    As I learned in AA and as Richard Chelin reminds us, we can’t help any others if we ourselves are sick or totally worn down. So we have others, each other to remind us. Always there are others around me to remind me, to pull me back, to gently scold me. This is the everyday stuff of friendship, love, community. We do it for and with each other, whether we are members of a family with our siblings, our parents, our children; whether it be with some of our colleagues, team mates, best friends, brothers and sisters in our community, lovers and spouses. “Take care of yourself, or come here and we will do it for you.” Not a threat, just an invitation, a promise, a reminder.

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