The following day, knowing that the Archpriest was going to make his recommendations to the Pope, Eugene was tense and restless.

Nevertheless, preoccupied for the whole of that day with this matter, I composed a letter for M. the Archpriest, urging him to make prevail the reasons that I gave him, so that the Holy Father might manifest the intention that the Congregation be not satisfied with praising but that it approve, something it no longer does and (has not done) for a long time. I was perturbed, it rained the whole afternoon; something in a word, I know not what, prevented me from delivering it, for twice I had taken up my hat, determined to brave the bad weather, and I turned back for a reason quite other than the bad weather.

He then came to his senses and realized that it was God who was going to look after the outcome and that Eugene needed to trust more in God and to stop trying to find other means to influence the decision.

I chose the recourse of going to pray to God in the chapel balcony, the while I supposed the audience was taking place, not that I had the foolish idea my prayers could produce the good effect that I desired, but because it seemed to me appropriate to recollect myself in the presence of Our Lord, somehow or other, while grace should work and the Holy Spirit should inspire the Head of the Church as to how he should decide our fate and the salvation of an infinity of souls.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 22 December 1825, EO VI n 213


There is an anecdote that perfectly conveys the humble spirit of Pope John XXIII. On the evening when he announced the opening of the Ecumenical Council, the first one since 1869, he couldn’t get to sleep. Finally, he called himself to order: “Angelo, why aren’t you sleeping? Who’s running the church, you or the Holy Spirit? So sleep.” And he did.

This entry was posted in LETTERS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning I awoke and found myself singing ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus’ – in fact it was what my being sang as I fell asleep last night. I knew immediately why I was singing it – because I have being trying to ensure that an upcoming event runs smoothly [read perfectly] for my brothers and sisters. Alas I have spoken to God about this and not in the most peaceful or grateful of manners but still things seem to be going awry and I have absolutely no control over any of it. A small inner voice seems to be saying very softly ‘that it will all be okay’. An even softer voice adds “I love you”. That immediately soothes me but quickly enough I return to my previous state of anxiousness. I seem to be intent on picking up my worrying and fretting rather than letting it go. Veni Sancte Spiritus. There is a fine line between doing all that I can and then letting God manage the rest of it, and trying to control it all. The phrase “Let go and let God” that I learned early on with AA comes to mind. I am sure were I to voice my worries aloud my friends would say it not a big deal, let it go, it doesn’t matter. Why does it matter so much to me? Where does this great need to control everything come from? Oh, I know where it comes from, but even that small bit of insight doesn’t seem to stop it from coming up again and again.

    Eugene’s twice picking up his hat to deliver a very specific (and perhaps detailed) message to the Archpriest. Well at least I am in good company. Even as I sit here sharing my thoughts with God only knows who, I wonder at my seeming inability to really let God be in charge and manage it all.

    This morning all that I can do is to go about my daily tasks and appointments. I have a liturgy meeting to go to, and they are usually a source of no small amount of joy for I learn so much from others while realising at the same time a little of the goodness that is within me. I will go a bit early, drop into the church to just sit with God – nothing else, just allow myself to be embraced by love (because in the long run that is all I really want). Then later on I will go to meet with another about the upcoming function and how we all can make it work. And most of all I will try to trust God in all of this, let him manage it. Just as Eugene did with this most urgent of matters to his way of living, as did Pope John XXIII with the running of God’s own Church. As must I. Veni Sancte Spiritus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *