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