Having turned down his mother’s invitation to spend some days with her, Eugene then invited her to go to the Bishop’s house in Marseille and spend some time with him.
Do not delay in coming to console me in this little disappointment by a long visit to Marseille. I long to spend some time with you. Do not delay too much because it is possible that I will be obliged to go away. If I go to Rome, it will not be much later than the middle of September, and I will go to Nimes for a few days before that.
Letter to his mother, 16 August 1825, General Archives Rome, AGR MJ I-1
We sometimes hear it said that Eugene demanded that the Oblates be detached from their families, while he himself remained attached to his. He certainly did remain close to his mother and sister, and there does appear to be an inconsistency here. Yet, when one looks at the broader picture, there was no doubt about his hierarchy of relationships: God was always in the first place, then his Oblate family, then the people whom he ministered to, and then his blood family.
What Eugene condemned was an excessive attachment to family. Throughout his life we find numerous examples of his allowing Oblates to go to spend time with their families in times of need, of the Congregation giving support to some of these families in times of material distress, and even allowing Oblates to minister outside of the Congregation’s mission so as to aid their parents financially for the time that they were in dire straits.
He recalls this principle in the Preface to our Rule of Life:
They must constantly renew themselves in the spirit of their vocation, living in a state of habitual self-denial and seeking at all times to reach the very summit of perfection. They must work unremittingly to become… free from inordinate attachment to the world or to family, men filled with zeal, ready to sacrifice goods, talents, ease, self, even their life, for the love of Jesus Christ, the service of the Church, and the sanctification of their brethren.
Also in the Rule of 1853:
“He must free his heart from every disorderly affection for things on earth, and from excessive attachment to parents and native land…”
“He who would be serene and pure needs but one thing, detachment.” Meister Eckhart