Jacques Marcou was 23 years old and had been ordained less than a year. In those days the studies for the priesthood were very rudimentary and took two years (as opposed to a minimum of 7 today). For this reason Eugene insisted that the young Oblates spend time on preparing their sermons and then get them approved and improved by one of the more experienced Oblates. Father Marcou was spending some time helping a local pastor to prepare the youth for confirmation, Eugene advised him:

I do not wish you to preach sermons which have not been written out and approved. I counsel you to have the utmost reserve and not seem to have a mania for speaking in public, at the risk of being scorned; keep yourself to what is strictly necessary. Be doubly prudent and circumspect when the Bishop is on the premises.
If you are invited, refuse absolutely to preach, giving as pretext your hurried departure from Aix which did not permit you to bring your notebooks and your youth and inexperience which oblige you expressly not to risk compromising the Word of God.

Seemingly the Pastor with whom Marcou was working was a difficult man, and so Eugene counseled the young man:

tell yourself beforehand that it is very important to endure everything from him and from those who are beside him; the good of all demands that you make on this point strong resolutions and that you do not fall away from them.
Adieu, may the good God go with you and bless your steps.

Letter to Jacques Marcou, 11 August 1824, EO VI n 150

“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth’.” Dan Rather

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I was struck today with the thought that I wasn’t too sure if I really wanted to hear what Eugene was saying and how this might apply to me in my everyday life. Yesterday in one of our break-away groups the mention of obedience came up although it was in response to a different scenario. There can be such a freedom in obedience for it does not need to be only a top-down or controlling thing. I am thinking of how Eugene has written here to Jacques Marcou who is young, probably filled with zeal, with passion and ready to take on the world. Eugene tells him how to prepare his homilies, how to preach and then and even offers him a “way out” should it be necessary (as in the case of being invited to speak when the bishop is around).

    There is within this letter a lesson in humility and the gift of wisdom. I think of those in my life who have directed and mentored me, of my teachers [many of whom were not in school]. I think back to the times (not always so long ago) that I thought I had most of the answers – to everything and when I did not always heed that inner voice of wisdom, or what was offered from another. Perhaps the times when I have listened, and followed accordingly but only grudgingly, to the letter of the law. Who have been the teachers in my life? Who are the teachers in my life?

    How do I listen and obey, how do I listen and follow accordingly? Is it with grace or begrudgingly? Am I able to let go of myself, my ego, my need to be better than others, to be on my own? My attitudes will get in there – will they be in the way or help foster openness and learning?

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