One of Eugene’s constant concerns for his men was their health. They were so zealous as missionaries that they often sacrificed good sense when it came to looking after their physical wellbeing. He reminds the community superiors of their responsibility in this regard.

If this is so, how have you dared to let him undertake a mission? You could not do so in conscience… If Father Albini was unwell, why not wait for the help that I would have sent? In important matters, one must not follow one’s own inclination.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat. 23 August 1827, EO VII n 275

Look after yourself and take great care of everyone for illnesses make for loss of regularity.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 15 July 1827

“Regularity” does not refer to being on time, but to living one’s life according to the spirit of the Oblate Rule (“regula”). Writing to Marius Suzanne, Eugene refers to his own life as an example of having to ber careful. The accident referred to was a fall that had wounded his legs.

I was wrong, my dear Suzanne, I admit, not to have gone into some detail about the accident which happened to my legs.  Fr. Guigues will explain it to you, I have almost forgotten it. Since then other events have preoccupied my mind; the fear of seeing our brother Reynier perish from an inflammation, anxieties and exasperation, I do not know if I ought not to add fatigue, all that together have made me forgetful of my own suffering, of which besides I am always less conscious than that of others.

Letter to Marius Suzanne, 18 July 1827, EO VII n 273

Suffering and illness, however must be used as a positive force to lead each one to holiness – to bring them closer to the God who suffered for each one.

On this subject, I will not hide from you that I have read with joy the journal you have sent me. By being faithful to it, you will soon repair the almost inevitable gaps that a long convalescence occasions to the detriment of our souls. One must be keenly on one’s guard to sanctify oneself in these infirmities. One would think otherwise, but experience proves it.

Letter to Marius Suzanne, 18 July 1827, EO VII n 273


“Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.”     Saint Teresa of Avila

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It is hard to look at illness as a source of holiness, as a grace of any kind. So used are we to ‘doing’ that it can become a formula for our lives that surpasses all else. To let go of that can be so very hard at times. It can be far too easy to ignore our bodies and what they are trying to tell us, especially when there is zeal and fervour. When I get sick, no matter if it is a small short illness, or a long one I experience a poverty that might be hard to recognize and accept – to be helpless and unable to ‘do’ on my own, or less than normal. That I might be able only to move more slowly than I want to may also be hard to accept, but it can become a time of grace. It can become a time of ‘looking up’ beyond myself and my world, of having to ask to be picked up and held in an embrace that is all love, a time to reflect and a time to simply ‘be’ within that embrace. If I can but remember this when something is not going well within my body, remember it and face what is happening rather than trying to ignore or pretending to myself to ignore – out of fear of what could be wrong, or fear that I won’t be able to ‘do’ enough, or be good enough, or, or, or… What is my will in this? What is the opportunity being offered?

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