WHAT HAS ALWAYS EXHAUSTED US MOST ON MISSIONS IS LACK OF SLEEP

While delighting in the conquests of the team of Oblates succeeding with he jubilee mission at Roquevaire, Eugene kept his feet on the ground and worried about the missionaries burning themselves out by sacrificing sleep in favor of work. He had learnt this personally through his earlier exaggerations, and so became sensitive to wanting the Oblates to avoid the same traps.

It seems to me, my dear Fr. Guibert, that you have been received with open arms by our Fathers at Roquevaire. Their need was extreme. Also, so that you may not be overburdened, I am sending you a curate of Notre Dame du Mont who will help you with confessions. I see that you need more than elsewhere to take care of yourself. Work sweeps you off your feet. It is wholly necessary therefore that you take all possible precautions to devote to sleep the time that our poor bodies need… 
You are obliged to begin the morning exercise at a very early hour; that is good, since it is necessary. But then let it be the rule that two missionaries take turns to rest until six o’clock. Bro. Hermitte can go to bed a little sooner; someone other than he can sound the bell at ten o’clock; do not keep him up for that. By going to bed early, he will rise always for the morning service, so as to be able to do the morning prayer and the prayers of the Mass; two other missionaries will get up, one to do the instruction, the other to say the holy Mass; the two others will rest. By this means, you will not be tired at all; put confidence in my experience; what has always exhausted us most on missions is lack of sleep; also, I do not hesitate to prescribe to you the aforementioned procedure which you will be permitted to put aside on the eve of the communions.

Letter to Hippolyte Guibert, 20 March 1827, EO VII n 267

 

“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”    Thomas Dekker

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One Response to WHAT HAS ALWAYS EXHAUSTED US MOST ON MISSIONS IS LACK OF SLEEP

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It is almost too easy for me to sit here this morning and say ‘of course’ – even Jesus took time to rest. In our passion and zeal we often want to ‘do’ more, and when that is combined with youthfulness we do not always realize what we might be doing to ourselves. Eugene’s own experience has taught him what can happen when we do not take care of ourselves, body and spirit. His organizational skills and ability to look at what team work can do so that all are taking part and still able to rest were so good.

    I keep thinking of the lines from scripture about the poor being with us always – written to illustrate another point but nonetheless valid. Though this is not an invitation to ‘slack off’ there is a truth in it that we need to heed – and it is not just for one group of people be they priests, missionaries, parents, workers – it is for all who give of themselves and share of themselves. We all need to take the time to rest and be replenished. There will always be some with high energy and others with less – but working together will ensure that we all profit.

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