For Eugene the central focus for all Oblates had to be evangelization, and in particular the preaching of parish renewal missions. All time and energy had to be used for this purpose.

Our vocation being the missions, only by obedience must one do anything else. So direct Fr. Martin to use the free time that is left to him to prepare some instructions.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtes, 27 September 1827, EO VII n 283

It was this ideal that he reminded Fr Suzanne about regarding the time he was spending writing a book:

As to the matter in question, I am certainly very agreeable that you employ your leisure in composing something useful and, while admiring the dispositions of your heart and the detachment that you observe towards what you have produced and with which you have taken much trouble, never shall I put you to the trial of sacrificing them. All that I desire is that you be well persuaded that a good catechism, if it converts many souls, ought to be preferred to the most beautiful written work.

Then Eugene found out that Fr. Courtès was contemplating writing a novel, and this was the last straw:

Is it not unseemly that I learn only yesterday that Fr. C[ourtès] plans to do some kind of novel, and that I learn of it by chance from someone other than himself. If the plan is such that I have been told about, he can dispense himself from writing it, for I will tear it up with my own hands.

Letter to Marius Suzanne, 5 October 1827, EO VII n 285


“I write because writing is the gift God has given me to help people in the world.”     Anne Lamott


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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Poor Eugene – there they were, a congregation barely more than a year old, just beginning – with a specific mission and rules. And Eugene whose job it was to try to ensure that they follow and live as the Spirit was leading them. They were now a congregation within the Church with a specific mission and specific rules. And each of the men filled with the deep fires of passion and love – they also wanted to feel that they were using the gifts given to them by God. Eugene as their friend, as their Superior General would have to lead them – this was his job. Eugene seems to be reminding Marius Suzanne about what must come first and foremost.

    How does this apply to me in my life here and now, almost 200 years later? I know very well how easy it is to persuade myself that what I want to do is what God has in mind for me. How is God calling me to evangelize? How do I best use the gifts that God has given to me and still be a part of something much bigger than myself? How do I guard against it being “all about me”? Discernment is needed. And trust – for sure trust that I am listening to and hearing the Spirit and not just my own or another’s voice.

    And me a writer – not a published or famous writer, simply a person who has written for much of my life; like an artist who feels compelled to paint or the musician who feels compelled to play an instrument. How might I use my words to touch others?

  2. Dave Morgan says:

    This reminds me of Thomas Merton’s struggles with his Abbott about his wanting to write books. Fortunately the Abbot relented. The context is different here as Eleanor outlines. I have the urge to write from time to time but I enjoy reading so much, I rarely get around to it. Glad to have these reflections back. St Eugene never ceases to amaze.


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