Journeying towards France by slow stage coach, Eugene wrote to his Oblate family from Milan, where he was able to pray at the tomb of the patron saint of the de Mazenod family, St Charles Borromeo.

I have reserved my place for Thursday morning; I will be at Turin Wednesday evening or at the latest, Saturday morning. My first care will be to run to the post office to seek the letters you must have addressed to me there and which I am longing to receive, as it is indeed for a long time that I have been deprived of news of the family. I hope that you are all well… It is high time that I see you again. I dare not tell myself how long I have been living away from you. If I had considered that before leaving, I would have had much trouble deciding myself to set forth on a journey so prolonged.

Had he taken only human considerations into account, and had he known the prolonged difficulties he would have faced in Rome, he would never have had the courage to undertake this task. Yet, God led him gently step-by-step and Eugene had achieved all that was necessary.

The good God spares our weakness by leading us gently to his ends. Until now, it has been impossible to succeed better from every point of view…

He echoes the experience of St Paul:” “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

For the rest, the happiness of pressing my friends, my brothers, my children to my heart means everything to me on earth. I embrace you all with these sentiments; I embrace my uncle, mama, my sister and her children. This morning I thought of you all at the tomb of Saint Charles and am about to return there. Adieu, we are no longer so far from one another as when I was at Rome. Adieu.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 14 May 1826, EO VII n 240


“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”   Mahatma Gandhi

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning I can almost picture Eugene setting off for the post office to check for letters. So keenly he misses those who are dearest to him and wants to receive word back from them. We used to wait so patiently (or not) for a letter to arrive in the post and now we wait just as impatiently for email letters to arrive in our digital mailboxes. Whether we run to our mail boxes or check our In Boxes – that sharing of our lives with each other is so important to us.

    This morning seems to continue to speak to me of communion – of being in communion with God, with each other, with all of creation in a very palpable way. The longing to join with and be one that God seems to have made a part of our very DNA, this driving force which gently leads us into and through love. It would seem upon reflection that not only are we powerless to love no less than perfectly those that God has put with us, we are also powerless as we demand and expect that love in return. It is not one-sided. We are born to be ‘in communion with’. One with God, one with all of creation. It is as Eugene said – “The good God spares our weakness by leading us gently to his ends.” And even as I write this I realise – this is how God loves; loving us and demanding, expecting, waiting for no less in return. Wow!

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