THE ANNOYANCE OF GOOD EXAMPLE

Continuing to reflect on the news he is receiving in Rome about the preaching in Aix, Eugene responds to the indifference and criticism of some of the participants in the missions.

I have not understood what Fr. Courtès wished to say to me about the humiliations of which he speaks; I presume that it is the contempt of those for whom we sacrifice ourselves.

He reassures the Oblates that this must not put them off. As long as their main focus in ministry is the welfare of the people, they must not be knocked off balance by those who are negative.

That is a very small misfortune. All I desire is that they preach in a profitable manner, putting aside all self-love. One will not produce much fruit otherwise.

The only key to a successful attitude to ministry is to realize that it is the quality of the life of the preacher, and not his words that changes people.

I hope that our Fathers will have told themselves also to act with much prudence, when having to do with persons so badly disposed. Recommend that they conduct themselves like saints, like real apostles, joining to their preaching an exterior modesty, a great charity for sinners.
Let people be able to perceive from their manner that they are not ordinary preachers, that they are truly animated by a zeal which is proper to their holy vocation. Let them not forget themselves if they wish to be truly useful to others.
Let them therefore pray much. The good God will then come to their help and all will go well.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 30 March 1826, EO VII n 233

 

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”   Mark Twain

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One Response to THE ANNOYANCE OF GOOD EXAMPLE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    At first reading I had difficulty trying to figure out what both Frank and Eugene were saying. Something so obvious and yet I was unable to grasp it. Then it hit me. I thought first of Francis, Pope Francis ,and how it was not just a bunch of pious and ‘holy sounding’ words that led me to listening to him with more than just my ears but my heart as well. They say that sometimes actions speak louder than words, and most certainly it seems that those actions must at the very least speak just as loud as the words themselves. In AA we would speak of those who ‘talked the talk’ and then there were those who ‘walked the walk’. Sometimes words can be very empty.

    Yet some of what Eugene seemed to be saying still baffled me. “Let them not forget themselves if they wish to be truly useful to others.” I seemed to get stuck right there, drawing huge blanks. “Let them therefore pray much. The good God will then come to their help and all will go well.” Eureka! If I pray well, when I pray well – then will I be focussing on God, giving of myself to/for God. My ‘true self’ as Richard Rohr would speak of. No focus on needing to ‘look good’, needing to use perfect and ‘holy’ words. It’s not a competition here. If I am here to share with others what God has given to me, that is his most perfect love, then that is what I shall do – it is not about me. There is a small prick of relief here for in truth I have nothing wondrous of my own to give, but to share what I have been given, to love – that is true joy and even as I think of this my being is filled with a small smile. This place which started today as a small annoyance in its own way has been a good example for me. Not sure how ‘fruitful’ this day shall be, but I find myself grateful for this reminder. Such a grace to be able to recognize yet another gift from God as I start this day. I pray that God that I will keep this before me as I go through the day -there is no need to be in competition with my sister.

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