Since 1821 the Oblates had been present in Marseille with such a flourishing ministry that they were in the process of enlarging their community premises. Eugene wanted the novitiate to be transferred to a part of this house. His plans give us an idea of the simple lifestyle that he always wished for the Oblates.

I think you are likely to be busy finishing the house so that we can have the novitiate there if we definitely choose to transfer it to Marseilles; but I cannot overdo it in reminding you to keep to simplicity and strict necessity I have here under my regard fine examples. Should it be so necessary that the novices have mattresses on their beds? Alas! should we not refrain from having them ourselves? Rather than mattresses, I would complete our stock with a supply of good but coarse linen for bed sheets, towels, serviettes and dusters (we should go without table cloths as at Aix) a small set of kitchen utensils, books and the chapel.

Looking to the future, Eugene saw the necessity of having an investment of sufficient funds to look after the Oblates who were not brining any income to the community – and thus give them the necessary freedom for ministry.

After that, let us begin to restore what the Society has furnished for several years because it is urgent that we assure ourselves of having on our side some sort of annual fund for the needs of the members of the Society, if only to provide them with food and clothing, for I see the time is coming when Digne and Gap will no longer contribute anything and then what shall we do? Do not overlook that in all the plans that you might form.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 11 February 1826, EO VII n 223


“Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them! There is great freedom in simplicity of living. It is those who have enough but not too much who are the happiest.”    Peace Pilgrim

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene’s life sometimes sounds pretty spartan to me. As a guest at Madonna House where I stayed for a couple of years I had very little, some clothes (not a lot), a small bed to sleep on , it was enough. I discovered there that I had the freedom to be there and focus on what God was putting in front of me – God’s tender mercy.

    I look briefly at my addictions which can rob me of my freedom. I managed to let go of alcohol and drugs, of cigarettes and an endless supply of new clothes and beautiful purses and shoes. What do I try to use to distract myself from God and life? Is it books, computer games, clothes, buying name brands at reduced prices or focusing on how I look? Who am I wanting to impress? I ask myself how and what am trying to hide myself from and behind. What wants to rule my life? I look at the freedom that Eugene had – to give himself, his all to God and then to love out of that. He knew from his own life the many distractions that could divert his gaze from God.

    “There is great freedom in simplicity of living. It is those who have enough but not too much who are the happiest.” I have more than enough things and God is so very adept at providing me with what I need. There really is a great freedom in not having to worry about things. It does free me up. But there is also that part of me that keeps trying to step out to buy more, look better, want the latest…. God gives me great joy that comes from deep within me but if I am too busy focusing on things I won’t be able to recognize it.

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