Throughout these hectic days when Eugene was spending all his time shepherding the progress of the application for approbation of the Oblates, what gave him the inner strength to keep him going? It was his constant striving to live united with God, and with the members of his Oblate family in France. In particular, it was the gift that he had of being able to share deeply with Henri Tempier. He had written:
it truly seems that the good God wills me to pursue my task while united to him, and he does not let me offend him, at least not in a manner I can perceive.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 4 January 1826, EO VII n 216
I begin, my dear Fr. Tempier, by rectifying a statement of my last letter which would be too absurd and ridiculous were I not writing in intimacy and trustfulness to a friend, the confidant of my most secret thoughts; certainly I would not have let it slip out with any other person.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 10 January 1826, EO VII n 217
The need for deep friendship was an important feature of Eugene’s personality. Henri Tempier was the one to whom he was the closest: his first Oblate companion, his vicar in the Oblates, his assistant vicar-general in Marseille, and his confessor, spiritual accompanier and “life-coach” until his death. Together they endeavored to live in unity with God and to lead others to the same relationship. Here was the source of Eugene’s strength in the most difficult moments.
This spirit is expressed in our Rule of Life:
“Sincere friendship can foster the growth of an apostolic person, enabling one to love others as Jesus loves them.” CC&RR, Rule 18b