Because Eugene’s Roman Diary was meant to be a private journal recording his impressions, it gives us precious insights into some of his views. In this entry he speaks about two of the older Lazarist priests in the house where he was living in Rome. What he admires in these men is what he wants to see in his own Oblates.
I spent my recreation with M. Collucci , one of our Lazarists, seventy-four years old. I would not have given him more than sixty. I cannot express how much I admired his beautiful simplicity, the beauty of his soul and the sentiments he expressed with admirable kindness. He is almost totally infirm although it isn’t noticeable; however, that still did not stop him from travelling to give missions this year, but serious sickness obliged him to turn back, or rather his doctor’s orders, since he was all ready to keep on going. He told me that what always sustained him was peace of soul which he had always been lucky enough to enjoy in his holy state, and that he thanked God every day for his vocation. I had already noticed the charity he showed in always being ready to go to the confessional and how respectfully he treated everyone. I consider this holy priest to be a great servant of God. He told me again that what contributed most to his happiness was receiving everything from God’s hands.
There is also another invalid in the house who had not been out of his room for eight years. He was a great missionary but now is half paralyzed. In this state, he still hears confessions and is always happy and resigned. They are great models of virtue, and I equally admire the concern, charity, and care that the other members of the house render this poor sick man, and the attention they pay the first one. I also gladly observed how they all faithfully followed the house rules. Everything functions well on its own. I am grateful to God for having placed me in a situation where I could marvel at such sustained good conduct. There is only one thing that really bothers me, that, even though I am far behind them in virtue, they all smother me with every sort of consideration and treat me with respect I certainly do not merit.
Roman Diary, 16 December 1825, EO XVII
“You seek help from the elders. A society with elders is healthy. It’s not always that way in the West.” Bernard Lagat