An invitation to reflection: Am I killing myself at the service of others? When and how do I take life-restoring rest?

Marius Suzanne’s talents and zeal had led him to ignore persistent warning signs of illness and now he was dying of tuberculosis. Eugene, keeping watch, at his bedside, worried about the other Oblate missionaries who were just as dangerously neglecting their health and rest for the sake of their ministry:

I shall never cease to urge you to care for your strength. Never allow yourselves to go to extremes. This inclination does not come from God. You must, in exercising your zeal, discern what comes from God. Keep Fr. Honorat in check for he is to be watched and he ordinarily is affected by his imprudence, because he has less strength than he has will. In everything, do not be overloaded with work and do not believe you are wasting time when you are resting.”  

Letter to the Oblate community in Nimes, 1 December 1828, EO VII n 317

Again, while sitting at Marius Suzanne’s bedside:

In the meantime, I recommend the greatest moderation while on missions so that you do not tire yourselves. The sight before my eyes which distresses me every moment of the day, and in a most cruel manner, makes me determined to insist as far as you are concerned that you regard the least imprudence as a crime.”   

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 16 January 1829, EO VII n 322


“The bow cannot always stand bent, nor can human frailty subsist without some lawful recreation.”    Miguel de Cervantes

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    There have been times when I have woken and come to this space, reading thinking that St. Eugene was speaking directly to me. Even this morning I stopped to check that some of my old habits were not returning. It was not so long ago that a friend would remind me that I was ‘doing’ too much – part of it coming from zeal and part of it being the result of my own woundedness, of thinking that my doing would make me more loveable. It took me a long time to figure out that it was not God’s intention or will that I ignore myself, my emotional health, my physical health, my spiritual health.

    The word ‘Sabbath’ comes to mind. During a retreat this fall I learned about what Sabbath meant; more than just a day to not work and to go to church. I have to confess that I remember times when I heard that someone was taking time out, taking a ‘sabbatical’ and thinking rather ‘meanly’ that wasn’t that grand for them or weren’t they ‘special’ that they had time to do that; particularly if they were religious or teachers – after all how hard could it be to preach at church or listen to confessions, to teach others, to mentor or to walk with another.

    Ways of giving our all, of ‘being’ – a word that seeps to be before me and that I focus on a little more deeply these days. I need to check and make sure that I do not abuse that idea either.

    Franks mentions ‘life restoring rest’ and I think part of that might include ‘nourishment’ and allowing others to care for us. In resting and eating and being cared for we allow ourselves to go more deeply. The absence of extremes. It is in this way that my ‘ordinary’ becomes ‘extraordinary’.

  2. Peg Hanafin says:

    Thank you for sharing such wisdom and forcingvus to look at how we work every day. Very pertinent to my life Fr Frank.

  3. franksantucci says:

    Thanks for reactions.
    I am trying a new approach in these days to try to personalize the reflection with a suggestion for application. Hope it works. It certainly gets me more focused on the text as an invitation to active reflection.

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