In seemingly-hopeless situations, where do I turn?
Within three months of the death of Marius Suzanne, Hippolyte Courtès became seriously ill. Fr. Rey writes: “For the still lacerated heart of Fr. de Mazenod, this was truly a thunderbolt. He loved Fr. Courtès as much as Fr. Suzanne. With the latter, who was one of his first children, one of those who understood him best and who was entirely imbued with his spirit and his sentiments. Besides, Fr. Courtès, thanks to his talents, his rare prudence, his aptitude for affairs, his religious spirit, his devotedness beyond measure, was an indispensable man, on whom, after God, the Founder counted for the future of his work …” (footnote to EO VII 328).
Eugene, weakened by these blows, confides his struggle to keep going:
I tore up the letter I was writing to you, my dear Tempier, for it expressed too vividly the state of anguish, and how my heart is rent asunder by the condition in which our dear Fr. Courtès is.
Also you yourself would be too afflicted at seeing me as I am. I do not really have the strength even to write and tell you that I am left almost without any hope. [Dr.] D’Astros has just told me to give him the last rites, because he gives no hope of recovery in the event of a recurrence of what happened last night. Yes, what strength would be left (to him) after that?
For myself, while nothing shows exteriorly, I am unable to utter a word. The self-restraint I am obliged to exercise leaves me in a state similar to agonizing. I do not know if it is exhaustion or prostration or what it is. I do not feel the physical strength to do again what I did for that other apple of my eye who was taken from me, now that I am threatened with losing this one too…
And our Society, how would she be able to rise again after being bludgeoned by these two blows? I am overwhelmed by all this loss, I will never recover from it.
… I will content myself with offering Holy Mass so that the good God may have pity on me, and that he does not deprive our Society of one of her foundation stones ….
Letter to Henri Tempier, 10 May 1829, EO VII n 328
When everything appeared so hopeless, Eugene handed it to God. When I am faced with a seemingly hopeless situation, where do I turn?
“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10