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

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Again I find myself focusing on Eugene’s love for others. His focus on loving and how he turned to God time and time again throughout his life.

    For a moment I think of my grandmother many years ago when I was a teenager and visiting her. And although I by then left the church we were walking to daily Mass because was her habit. I can remember asking her why she went to church and she told me that she was old, that my grandad had died long ago and that her children had grown up and moved away, and that most of her friends were dead. She only had God left to go to and that if she didn’t she would curl up and die. I thought she was strange but she was my nana so I went to church with her and sat there.

    Here I am today, moving towards being the same age as she was back then we walked to church together. I know now what she meant. Not that all my friends are dying, but sometimes it seems there is nowhere else to turn but to God. A dear friend dies; another comes and asks for prayers because she has cancer again, this time in the other breast; another has not enough money to continue on and she feels helpless hopeless; the news announces more fighting in Aleppo and it looks like more people will be unable to get out of there; Christmas is coming and old memories threaten to overwhelm. None of these is too hard to bear or insurmountable on their own – they are all everyday things, but still they matter.

    I look at Eugene going to offer Mass and asking God to have pity on him – turning to God for his consolation. I begin my day in this sacred space, looking at Eugene as my model and blessedly being able to see how it leads back and forward to Jesus and to other holy men and women that I know – a small turning to God. I then move into a period of contemplation – time to just sit and be with God, in the presence of God not asking simply being. Throughout the day I will turn, small quick turns to see God, to focus on him, to ask him for help – or just to say His name. Whether it be Aleppo on the news, a beggar sitting in the snow and wind, my friend in a cast with Christmas plans derailed, my own ability to change any of it – I can turn to God, my most constant companion, my Beloved.

  2. Peg Hanafin says:

    Yes, Christmas rises latent feelings of sickness and those loved ones returned home to the Lord.

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