FRATERNAL CORRECTION – BEING MINISTERED TO

We saw above how the new priest, Bernard Vachon, had been reprimanded by his superior in Aix, and was upset by it. Eugene’s letter continues to reassure him, in a fatherly way, that no personal harm was intended or done.

The first one I reproved in this matter was your superior himself who had thrown you too soon into a ministry which is not learnt by inspiration. He should know that a new confessor is liable to deceive himself and to be deceived. So he should have, after having given you verbally some counsels that are not to be found in the manuals, to insist that you consult him quite often about the cases that you meet and on the method that you have to follow.
We have all gone through that, my dear friend. It seems that you believed you knew enough to proceed without guidance, and that is where you deceived yourself: so much for what seems certain. But it is not a crime of which you are accused, so why be troubled? Why do you complain? I did not intend to write you about this but proposed on coming the next time to converse with you, frankly and in quite a friendly manner, to rectify what I might have found defective in your ideas and approve what might have been good.

Gently, he reminds Vachon that the aim of fraternal correction is always the good of the person, the effectiveness of his ministry and the glory of God:

So put your mind at ease and be well convinced that we never have any purpose, either in praising or blaming someone amongst us, other than the greater good of the member, the honor of the holy ministry and the glory of God.

Letter to Bernard Vachon, 28 February 1825, EO VI n.172

 

“Perhaps the Spirit of God is saying to many of us today, “I want to minister through you. But before I can ever minister through you, I must minister to you.” Don’t despise the educational experience of your drying stream. Don’t throw in the towel… Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be mature and complete. He wants to make you just like His Son.” Howard G. Hendricks

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One Response to FRATERNAL CORRECTION – BEING MINISTERED TO

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am struck this morning by Eugene’s gentleness, his love, he speaks to Bernard very much as would a father to his son. I do not know the story of Bernard Vachon’s life, but perhaps his experiences in life had not prepared him for this aspect of life, that of being chided so that he could only grow better. My own experiences in the first half of my life were such that when I was scolded, criticized or chided I took it to mean that I had failed, been totally wrong, I had been overpowered, judged and condemned. I had to learn that I was actually being loved whether it was by the folks in AA, the doctors who had to help me regrow a neglected body, some of the people I worked with, my fellow parishioners at church, etc. There was a wonderfully long list of people that God worked through, that God continues speaking through.

    Receiving love – it can be difficult sometimes, it’s almost like we have to learn how to receive it. Eugene’s words of: “So put your mind at ease and be well convinced that we never have any purpose, either in praising or blaming someone amongst us, other than the greater good of the member, the honor of the holy ministry and the glory of God.” I read that through a couple of times and it is only after reflection that I have a glimmer of understanding.

    “I want to minister through you. But before I can ever minister through you, I must minister to you.” Don’t despise the educational experience of your drying stream. Don’t throw in the towel… Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be mature and complete. He wants to make you just like His Son.” This speaks so clearly to me this morning. It goes beyond the words themselves. God wants to minister through me and that is why he has been ministering to me. “Come” he has been saying, “let me embrace you, let me heal you, let me fill your deepest wants and desires. Then shall you minister and give what you have been given.”

    One of those Ahhhh moments that sneaks up and transforms – its like coming out of the shadows into the light and warmth of the sun.

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