IT WILL COST ME MY LIFE TO LOVE YOU AS I DO

An invitation to reflect on the price I pay for loving others.

One of the strongest character traits of Eugene was his ability to love people and to express his emotions. Growing up, he was strongly attached to the members of his family, for whom he declared that he would have been willing to lay down his life. When he founded the Oblates, he considered each one as a member of a new family, of which he was the father. Right up to his death we constantly find expressions of this relationship between Eugene, the father and founder, and his Oblate sons – each one loved by him in a warm and deep way. These sentiments were especially intense with some of the first young Oblates who came to join him as members. He had watched over them in their youth and had accompanied them in their growth and formation as Oblates. He knew them and he loved them.

Now at the bedside of one of these sons, he feels all the pains of a father agonizing at the suffering and death of a son.

You must not be surprised, my dear Father Guibert, if I am in arrears with you. I have received your letter at a time so painful, and my anguish has been prolonged for so long that I have not found the time to write you. We have been on the point of losing our Fr. Suzanne and now it is seventeen days we are suspended between fear and hope.
This time it was not only spitting but truly a vomiting of blood, accompanied by a tenacious fever that has not yet yielded to the most assiduous care of the art of medicine…

Letter to Hippolyte Guibert, 26 November 1828, EO VII n 316

To another of his Oblate sons he wrote:

I have had prayers said here so that the good God will preserve for us this beloved brother; do as much yourself; as for me, the sorrow that I have experienced these past two days has been so acute and so constant that I consider it a kind of miracle not to have succumbed to it; happily, I have been able to shed an abundance of tears which, I believe, has saved me. There still remains however an extreme weariness. It will cost me my life to love you as I do. Nevertheless I cannot be sorry for this or complain. Adieu.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 15 November 1828, EO VII n 314

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“Grief is not a disorder, a disease or sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.”   Earl A Grollman

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One Response to IT WILL COST ME MY LIFE TO LOVE YOU AS I DO

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The cost of loving – it sounds so dramatic and yet I believe it to be true. Not easy though to focus on it in my own life. Looking at Eugene and always thinking back to Jesus, to St. Paul and to others – the price they have paid for loving greatly. What does that mean to love so greatly? To put yourself out there – open yourself to the other, totally -without masks or defenses. What if I am rejected or laughed at or ignored? Words like daring and trust come to mind. To give yourself over to another so completely then it could be devastating when the other moves away or dies. To let go of those you have given yourself to. And there will be times when we are asked to put ourselves out there in love when it might not be wanted, and to stand firm in that love with the risk of being jeered at, rejected or pushed away. The cost can be tremendous. My own experiences have taught me that I might not be prepared for the cost – it has come as a surprise and thoughts of ‘why would God allow this?’

    I note that Eugene did not stop loving though. He recognized and accepted his experience of pain and grief when he said: “…the sorrow that I have experienced these past two days has been so acute and so constant that I consider it a kind of miracle not to have succumbed to it; happily, I have been able to shed an abundance of tears which, I believe, has saved me.” I note that he did not run away from it even as he recognized the cost. His tears – a way of grieving and letting go.

    It is a mystery to me. I know only that I love and I do experience the pain that can be there with loving, the loss of self. But it would seem that when I love and there is a cost I tend to go deeper each time. Personally, I become more alive than ever I was before. It’s like moving forward towards the light of love. Impossible to ignore and turn away from. This is what we have been created for.

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