IF YOU TALK TO SOMEONE IN THEIR LANGUAGE, THAT GOES TO THEIR HEART

The year spent in Naples was to be an experience of poverty, loneliness and boredom for Eugene.

I learned German for three months. In so short a time I made such great progress in that difficult language that my teacher led me to hope I would soon master it; but he fell ill and died, and with him went what I knew. He was a minor official in the King of Naples’ service; clearly he was happy with very little. The destitution of the emigrant’s situation prevented my father from giving me another teacher; we had to be patient. I have regretted all my life not having been able to foster the facility I had then for learning languages and pronouncing them well. I would have done some additional good in my ministry.

Diary of the Exile in Italy, EO XVI

He had learnt Italian when he was 7 in Nice, as the Diary recalls:

What did Eugene do? He called in aid all the passers-by. His family were living in the Sauvigne home, which gave onto the embankment, a public promenade beside the sea. Eugene was doing his work on the harbour and as soon as he was stuck for the meaning of an Italian word, he stopped the first pedestrian to come along, who was only too happy to explain it to him.

Diary of the Exile in Italy, EO XVI

He had always understood the importance of learning languages, and would push the Oblates to master the languages of the people they were ministering to. Another brick in the building that would be Eugene’s (and our) missionary spirituality.

I was intending to use this holiday period to learn English and Spanish, with the idea that these two languages would be of use in my future ministry; but it looks as if this plan is doomed to failure. In any case, it is only the former of these two languages that I will be missing out on, as I think I can learn the other one very easily, as soon as I decide to get down to it, as it has great similarities to Italian.

Retreat notes, August 1812, EO XV n 106

There is more to communication than words: how do I communicate my spirituality to those around me?

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“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”   Nelson Mandela

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One Response to IF YOU TALK TO SOMEONE IN THEIR LANGUAGE, THAT GOES TO THEIR HEART

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    How do I communicate my spirit? My internet was down earlier this morning and so was unable to communicate at least part of my spirit. For my coming here each morning to reflect and then share that is very much a part of me and my spirit. Earlier I had thought of all the little ways that I communicate my spirit, who I am – most often as not in words but rather than in deeds, what I do, how I am and how I serve.

    In getting to where I am now I had a small mishap and actually passed out and fell on the road. I need to go and get myself seen to. Would ask all who come here to say a quick prayer for me.

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