Continuing our reflection on Eugene’s attempts to bring the young Nicolas Riccardi to his senses, we see how he tried to inspire him to see the importance of a mutally-supportive community in his life.
You rap out one after the other four lines which form a sequence in your letter: “I understand the loss that I suffer by leaving the community, I would be in despair if, and I know this only too well, I was obliged to leave it forever, I feel that I am made to live in community”. Say rather that you have a need, an extreme need, to live in community. That is why you are right in what you understand, but you do not understand enough the sorrow you cause by leaving the community. But if it is beyond doubt that you need to live in community,
Community is not about fulfilling personal needs, it is a two-way street of give and take, of mutual support:
and if it is true you would have reason to despair were you obliged to leave it forever, it is not less true that the community needs from those who form it that they do not give her the distasteful spectacle of an acute disorder, of an insulting disregard, of an unedifying irregularity, or a scandalous desertion, all of which trouble her tranquility, her peace, her happiness, and even compromise her existence.
Nothing can excuse your conduct, it is execrable in every way. You have let the Society down; your defection has not only been a scandal, you have hurt her substantially by the bad impression your fault must have made on the feeble souls who are not ready for such blows; and in quite another manner, you have let God down by trifling with what is sacred amongst men since in scorn of your engagements you have taken counsel only with your exalted imagination. You have obeyed only your own impulse or rather let us say, the demon who alone could inspire you with a resolve so contrary to your true interests as well as your sacred duties towards God.
Letter to Nicolas Riccardi, 17 February 1826, EO VII n 225
“Surround yourself with people who provide you with support and love and remember to give back as much as you can in return.” Karen Kain