More on the Lenten fare in Rome! We have seen in past how Eugene’s system just could not tolerate too much oily food.

When Lent is finished, I will have a little more strength for I admit I have never in my life observed a Lent comparable to this one. It happens often that I go through the day with two badly cooked eggs in my stomach and even then it is forbidden to eat them three days of the week. It is beyond me, I cannot overcome the repugnance I have for the stinking oil they use in this house. When they give me fish, I swallow it without seasoning but sometimes it will not go down. I would vomit rather than eat three pieces of another kind of fish pickled in vinegar with spices that nauseate me. Often the soup is disgusting; it is a mixture of cheese, bread and greens; I always force it down my throat; but I compensate myself with fruit, I eat my bread with nuts, almonds and usually two pears with which I am not parsimonious. After all that, in the evening, if I followed my inclination, I would pass up my bit of bread; but I eat it just the same, except on Saturday, because on Sunday morning, I breakfast with chocolate, raw or cooked. In lieu of other penances, I offer this to the good God…
I smile sometimes when I think of the advice that St. Bernard, I believe, gave to his religious on the dispositions with which they ought to go to the refectory. I have little trouble entering into the spirit of this saint, and certainly it is not an act of virtue for me to proceed there as if to martyrdom; my stomach is turned just by approaching the refectory. I have no fear of sinning there by sensuality. In spite of all that, I am very well. I have not been unwell for a moment since leaving France.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 16 March 1826, EO VII n. 230


“Sometimes it’s good to remember how bad food can be, so you can enjoy the concept of flavor to the fullest.”     John Oliver

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I remember the first time that I travelled (on a holiday) down to Mexico. At the hotel where we stayed the staff told us that if we did not like the Mexican food there were several American fast food restaurants down the road. I had not thought about food when preparing to to there for my holiday and hearing this person say what they did I began to secretly fear what I was going to have to eat. What could be so bad about Mexican food I wondered. I remember responding that I was sure the food would be wonderful. It was! But at each meal I would secretly wonder what my food would taste like. I did go to an “American” restaurant once – the food there was not all that good.

    I wonder how it was for those first missionaries when they came to a new land, a different land and how it was for them to eat. I am sure that it was not always easy to try to adjust themselves to new diets and eat what they were not used to eating. I thank God for what I am given, sometimes more heartily than others.

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    Thanks Frank. A humorous reading by the Founder. We know what he is thinking. I enjoyed Eleanors though regarding those who travel and live in other cultures. Not always easy but the key is Hospitality and gratitude. But if both are lacking, no wonder it was difficult to swallow.
    It is time to start to prepare for the Easter Banquet.

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