THE PEOPLE OF PROVENCE CANNOT SWALLOW THE DETESTABLE OIL THEY EAT IN ROME

A touch of Provencal gastronomic superiority – and a touch of virtue!

It is a pleasure! Here at least, my dear Tempier, the days of fasting are days of penance, especially for Provençals who cannot, whatever effort they make, swallow the detestable oil they eat in Rome. On rogation days, they observe what is called the strict minimum, that is to say, eggs and dairy products are forbidden. I thank God for my invincible repugnance for the foul oil and have contented myself these days solely with a piece of boiled fish on which I have squeezed half a lemon. Mgr. d’Isoard had wished that I dine with him; I took care not to accept his pressing offer because I admit that I felt nothing would have replaced the happiness that I experienced in doing three days of penance in the true sense and the real spirit of the Church.
Farewell for tonight, dear friend. Embrace on my behalf all the family. Pray for me; for my part, I make no station, not a step, without you beside me. I fear that Suzanne may have been over tired by that retreat at Allauch; he does not know how to be moderate, and I am always anxious about him. Affectionate regards for my dear uncle. Adieu.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 18 December 1825, EO VI n 212

 

“Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us.”      Peter De Vries

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2 Responses to THE PEOPLE OF PROVENCE CANNOT SWALLOW THE DETESTABLE OIL THEY EAT IN ROME

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    A bit of a mixed bag this morning and I wonder Lord what you would have me receive today, where you would have me be.

    I find myself easily distracted. The image that Eugene portrays is that of a mound of food covered in oil, not entirely pleasant but I have the feeling it was not quite as bad as as he makes it sound. I am sorry to say that I do not understand his talk of ‘rogation days’, even after stopping to look it up. I am wondering if it is just me this morning and my inability to enter into any real semblance of a reflection. For some reason my mind conjures the image of sand hills (as in the desert) and when the wind comes it picks up all the millions of specks of sand blowing them apart, away, scattering them so that they separate and become parts of other sand hills. What a strange image for I am that sand being picked up and blown away, being reformed into something else to be rescattered and and loosely formed. This is not the pretty, comfortable model of clay being remolded and smooth, but that of something uncontrolled, messy, wild and …. I think I would have preferred the image of clay being molded to that of sand being blown around only to fall back to the ground as sand. The only thing I can do at all is now to look to God. It is only as I turn to him that begin to see the utter futility of trying to build something of myself, for myself. I am those pieces of sand, on my own those small specks at the mercy of the winds and the seas and there is an aimlessness with all of that – on my own. But in the hands of God I begin to come together with the rest of the universe, I become that lump of clay being molded into form, into a work of beauty. I find myself moving some how from disconnectedness to a place of rest in an embrace of solace and mercy.

    I am a little perturbed at my experience this morning. It has been so clear, so unexpected and not what I would have thought I’d be able to imagine or see. A strange way to greet this day. Eugene returning to his thoughts and prayers of those he loves so dearly, me being put back together in a way that is almost too deep for me to be able to recognize or understand. I feel a little ‘off kilter’ but not lost. Like a fount, I feel thanks beginning to well up and so ask God that today might be simply a day of thanksgiving for all that I am given.

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    I just love it. When we are away from home what do we miss?
    For one from Provence it is the pure crisp olive oil of Provence. The heavy “rancid” oil of Rome would not do!!! I can hear him now.
    And then the tender love he shows Tempier and the Family.
    “I make no station, not a step with out you beside me” Wow. There is surely something each of us can take away from this phrase that reminds us of the founders tenderness and care. He was not a man of the head like so many are in the west or those trained in the western / colonial, patriarchal mentality, but of the heart where the Mistral surly blew strong.

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