I HAD FALLEN ON THE MOST SCRUPULOUS PRIEST IN CHRISTENDOM

Having spent over three days making a copy the 200 pages of the Rule himself, Eugene now had to submit his copy to an official for verification. He arrived with his two large manuscripts at the Vatican office where this was done, and was not getting much response to his persevering request. His narrative continues. with a sense of humor:

I do not know if it was to oblige or rid themselves of me that they pointed to one of the secretaries who had his nose down as he wrote; he was the one, they said, who was given this kind of thing. I approach him politely, he shows me his desk laden with papers; I sympathize with him over his excessive work and propose to him forthwith that I come to his house in the evening. This does not suit him, he prefers to give me a rendezvous for his day off, that is to say Thursday at nine in the morning.
Nine o’clock prompt, I am at his door; my instrument of suffering was ready by then and before executing me, the holy man had already taken the precaution of saying his Vespers. You can understand what I grasped from that. I had fallen on the most scrupulous priest in Christendom; to that I owed being expedited in one day but the delicacy of his conscience resulted in my paying “usque ad ultimum quadrantem” [ed. Matthew 5:26 In truth I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny]. He had been told to check the manuscript, he did not spare me a single iota. He took my copy while I read the original aloud; in vain I hastened, he dogged along after me with eyes and nose, for he did not really see beyond his nose, physically as well as morally. He interrupted my agony for a moment while he took his coffee; he forcefully wanted me to drink a cup with him but I held out so that I would not cost him more than a glass of water which had become indispensable to me; I drank it drop by drop during my long session which lasted more than four hours and during which my throat lost its elasticity twenty times, which a mouthful of water restored immediately it was taken. At last, at half past one, I got through and pronounced the last word of my manuscript which might nearly have been the last of my life. Anyway I was through at the cost of having my throat inflamed for the rest of the day. By evening, I could swallow again and things returned to normal.

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

 

“Some people are making such thorough preparation for rainy days that they aren’t enjoying today’s sunshine.”    William Feather

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One Response to I HAD FALLEN ON THE MOST SCRUPULOUS PRIEST IN CHRISTENDOM

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    As I reflected on this today I found myself thinking of those who live by the ‘letter of the law’. I am not sure this is what Frank was directing us to, but it is where I have found myself. Here we find Eugene with this ‘little’ priest who will show him what ‘exactitude’ is all about. This poor man seems to be so caught up in it that he is unable to allow himself to be touched in any way by it. I wonder if he was at all able to even recognize or appreciate the beauty and joy of what was being read to him. I get the feeling that he was so caught up in the need for Eugene having an exact copy that he missed what the words were saying and conveying. When have I been in the same type of position as was Eugene? More importantly when have put others in the same position as was Eugene? For I am sure that I have tried on that shirt, probably more than once.

    If I am totally absorbed in measuring the quality of the light, it’s brightness, looking for perfection or more likely imperfections then that is all that I will find. Equally if I spend all my time trying to figure it out, I will miss the beauty and life that it invites. If however, I allow myself the freedom to simply step into the light and experience being touched by it, then will I be able to bask in it’s radiance and warmth.

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