I continue to reflect on Eugene’s self-evaluation for his spiritual director on entering the seminary. Today I find more revealing than the text that he presented, the lines scratched out in his rough copy of the document (underlined here):
I have always been exceptionally frank, and this makes me steer clear of using any kind of flattering compliments that would in any way at all call my sincerity into question. Out in the world, people got used to accepting me as I am.
I must be on my guard against making rash judgments, for I have a strong propensity to pass judgment on all and sundry; led to do this by a certain talent I have had since I was a child to judge with.
I have never been able to be content with explaining people’s actions on the basis of their intention, for it is my practice to pick up various small aspects of an action which escape the notice of most people, and which give me a well-nigh infallible clue to the person’s intention. I am hardly ever mistaken in this. So I am not very trusting, and attach little weight to the protestations of friendship and esteem of three quarters of the people who would have me believe they are fond of me.
My experience has given me confidence that my judgment is rarely wide off the mark, and I have to be very careful not to speak my mind when there is no need.
Self-evaluation written for his spiritual director in 1808, O.W. XIV n. 30
The quality of being quick to judge is clear in many of his writings throughout his life, particularly if the person’s actions or attitudes were not in keeping with the values and ideals that Eugene expected from that person’s state of life. This attiitude of frankness caused him to have enemies, particularly in Marseille when he was Vicar General of his uncle and had to be the “hatchet man” to deal with problems in the diocese, or problems with civil government authorities.