I WAS IN IT FROM HEAD TO TOE

Much work still faced Eugene before the final brief of the approval of the Oblates could be issued by the Pope. Today’s technology would have assured its completion within a couple of days. In Eugene’s time everything had to be written by hand.

The brief will only be given to us after I shall have terminated a large work. I have to copy the entire volume of the Rules and Constitutions, because it is this copy which will be endorsed and put back into my hands. The original, to which are appended the approbations of the Bishops and the signature of the members of the Society, must remain in the archives of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars. I am somewhat dismayed by this task…

Letter to Henri Tempier, 18 February 1826, EO VII n 226

He tried to engage a professional copyist for the task but no one was prepared to do the work in less than three weeks – and that would delay Eugene’s return to France even more. So he decided to do the job himself.

I calculated that it would take about fifty hours of writing; I barged through this job in three days and part of the nights; I must admit it was an enormous task; I can also say that I was in it from head to toe; with head, chest, arms, hands, legs, feet and an unmentionable part of me being cruelly tried. But there remains not a trace of this temporary suffering which I was well inspired to offer to the good God, in expiation of my sins and for the good of our Society.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 27 February 1826, EO VII n 227

 

“Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful or to discover something that is true.”     William Ralph Inge

 

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One Response to I WAS IN IT FROM HEAD TO TOE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Here we all are, moving in our journey through Lent, one step at a time, forward, but slowly, not knowing what the next turn in the road will look like, not knowing what lies ahead but still, we have committed ourselves to this and so we continue on, walking into and the parting the mists with each step. God shows us as much as we need to take those first steps, then more for the next steps and so on. This seems to have also been Eugene’s experience in Rome.

    Here we have Eugene, he has already worked so very hard, has let go of much and yet he is still not able to see the end before him, only a small way in front of him so that he knows what he must do next. I believe he looked hard to find a copyist who was up to the task of not only completing the job quickly but also in doing it properly, as befitted the document. And so he makes the decision to do it himself. He gives his all.

    Without measuring, without comparing, what does that look like in my life? How do I give my all when asked to try to do whatever needs to be done? Do I give my all or do I simply talk around it? Even in the intimacy of Eugene’s diary I did not see him railing against God, or asking why, and indeed he did not walk away from the task, but did what it took, in his words ‘was in it from head to toe.

    I look at Eugene. I look at parents who live in a similar way with their children. So how do I live thus? Not so that I can rest on my laurels, but I need to be able to see the truth in how I live. I need to see not to only see missed opportunities but also to recognize and acknowledge the times and ways that I have said yes and given myself from head to toe.

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