In the case of the doubts around the suitability of Riccardi for Oblate life, Eugene had given him the benefit of the doubt. But, as superior of the Oblates, Eugene had taken a risk – convinced that the benefits of community would have made up for the young man’s failings.

Perhaps, if I had acted in my twofold capacity, I would have kept in mind the risk which the Society incurred through the lacks in your character but, being sure of the good that would result for you from entering the Society in which and with the help of which you would put to good advantage the talents that the good God had given you, while otherwise they would be almost useless, and also convinced you would find therein a powerful remedy against your perplexities and doubts, I do not say your scruples in the wake of the stubborn, multiple and voluntary faults that you had the boldness to commit, I did not hesitate for I believed you had a conscience, feelings, a heart.

To convince him, Eugene repeats the ideals which the community strives to be:

I did not doubt you would be enamoured right from the start with all the delight to be found in a family devoted to God and to the Church, making great strides in the ways of perfection, of which some of the members were preparing themselves by the practice of the most excellent virtues to become worthy ministers of the mercy of God to the people, while the others, by assiduous work and efforts of zeal that would be admirable in the greatest saints, reproduce the marvels operated by the preaching of the first disciples of the Gospel.

Letter to Nicolas Riccardi, 17 February 1826, EO VII n 225


“Our duty is to encourage everyone in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.”     Swami Vivekananda

This entry was posted in LETTERS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I have spent the weekend off and on reading a book called The Shattered Lantern – Rediscovering a Felt Presence of God by Ron Rolheiser OMI. I am almost finished and have found myself on most of the pages, a curious mixture of the strengths and the weaknesses that we move in and out of on our journey to having a contemplative life. The book speaks to where I have come from, where I am and where I would wish to go, of practices that will aid me in this and others that weight me down and hinder my recognition of God’s presence.

    As with the book, Eugene’s words and thoughts here help me to focus and recognize myself, seeing my strengths and weaknesses, as they were perhaps 10 years ago and as they are now. The ebb and flow – I have not ‘changed’ (except I have) but God has given me much to use to help me, tools, instruments, practices, communities and people to inspire, support and challenge me. I suppose I could walk away but that would be sure death. I find myself thinking of Peter when asked by Jesus if he didn’t want to walk away like the crowds upon hearing Jesus’s words and responding with a ‘yes but where would I go’ and yet later on denying Jesus three times and running away, only to return again and again.

    The community to which I am invited and drawn; which inspires and challenges; supports and walks with; models, teaches and prays with and for; this is how God speaks to me. As I thought during my periods of reading the book, of underlining and jotting down thoughts; reflecting on what Eugene wrote; and my life today I find solace and gratitude filling my being. This place (and many others throughout my day) is where I am encouraged in my struggles to live up to my own highest idea; and inspires me to strive and learn and become that ideal, keeping it as near as possible to the Truth (as spoken by Swami Vivekananda). Isn’t it interesting that we are all speaking in different languages but saying the same thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *