Continuing our reading of Eugene’s chatty letter to his friend Forbin Janson, we come across the practical point that every dream has to have a down-to-earth foundation of the means with which to put it into practice. How to pay for a building, how to pay for the livelihood of the missionaries, how to ensure that the missionary activities be possible from a material point of view, are some of the issues.

Eugene was fortunate to have the possibility of borrowing money from his family, but it was not enough, and it would have to be paid back within a year. Thoughtfully, and I imagine with a smile, he asks himself which saint in heaven he could enlist to aid him…

So much for my story. But the amusing thing is that all that was done without my being held back by the thought that I had not a single cent (ed. sol). To prove I was not mistaken, Providence immediately sent me twelve thousand francs, loaned to me without interest for this year. Now tell me how to reimburse them. I have made a golden deal since the whole establishment, including repairs to the church, will cost me only 20 000 francs. But where shall I find this sum? I have no idea.
In the meantime the missionaries are on my back. They want to begin tomorrow. In vain I tell them we need time to fix the rooms and make the house habitable. They cannot wait that long. And then, what about means of livelihood when we set up the community?
I think I will commend myself to St. Gaetan de Thiène. When he rang the bell, the people would come and bring him something to eat.
We are four at the moment, without counting Deluy whom they sent to a parish not more than fifteen days ago. For the four, I have my pension of a thousand francs; that will take care of two. A third tells me he would have enough to live. As for the fourth, God will see to it, no doubt.
How do you manage in Paris? To which saint do you have recourse?

Letter to Forbin Janson, 23 October 1815, O.W. VI n.5

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett says:

    Eugene’s absolute faith in God and his belief that this is what God was asking him to do allowed him the freedom to continue to just move forward – rather than sitting back and waiting for established methods to provide the money for his house. He thought it through but continued on. It reminds me not to hang back and look for all the reasons not to do something – but rather to say “Yes” and forge ahead. God will provide – if we let him. And he does!

  2. St. Gaetan de Thiène-pray for us! I don’t know who you are, but I will join my father Eugene and start praying! Here at Galilee Centre, Ontario Canada, we place buckets near the doorway when it rains, cut and paste promotions, listen to dreams and say yes, But!
    But it is the mission before us and the needs are many! So we continue trusting in Providence, praying and working with those of like mind and heart. And yes, we believe.

  3. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Oh how I have struggled this morning – needing to find a suitable text to reflect on. I have read many and have reflected on them – sort of. I have been all over the place but not once did I read, then sit back and truly ponder – I was far too busy trying to think of what I could possibly write. Not the right reason for being here. And so I walked away for a few hours and came back – yes out of the necessity to write but that is only part of it. This is a habit that I have committed myself to, a part now of the way that I live. And God so very generously day after day gives me something to focus on, to look at and reflect on who I am in all of this and who God is in all of it, and where he is leading me. It sort of helps me to ensure that I am going where he would have me go, following, allowing myself to be shepherded. Going off on my own, where I think I should go and do what I think I should do – it leads only to pain and struggle, of the worst kind. It results only in me needing to plead and beg that he come and pull me out of the mire, clean me up and set me down again on the path walking with him rather than away from.

    But on days like to today it can be hard to find a place to settle into even for a few minutes and so earlier I found myself feeling disconnected – from myself, from God and all others. Not healthy. I received a joke from a friend in which he included my name, right after using the description of ‘Oblate Associate’. A gentle and loving reminder of who I say I am. Thank you God for Marc for there it was, seen by another not Oblate. So I came back here. So I came back to search for something, anything and I found it here in the last line of his letter to Forbin Jansen; “To which saint do you have recourse?”

    Eugene – I have Eugene – and a whole host of other saints – all who have gone before me, but truly, the one that I feel called to live like and move with, the one who I sometimes dare to speak of as being a father to me along with his community – Eugene. It is to him that I go to and read and reflect on how he did things, on his spirit, his spirituality. Aha!

    So here I am today Eugene, a little at sea, a little lost and distracted. I pray to you to guide me, to intercede for me. To you and yours I have recourse.

    With you I start out on my day, not so much totally focused but with you to guide me I will be good. To be recognized by another as an Oblate Associate, not for any great things I might have done, but for who I am, a wonderful little gift. I will now go to church to be with and celebrate with those who I truly love so dearly. Not a huge thing but it is everything. God so knows what God is doing!

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