Six months of emotional drain, grief and countless hours of keeping watch at the bedside of the seriously ill and dying eventually took its toll on the health of Eugene. He became seriously ill himself in Aix and was to be incapacitated for the next six months. After describing the suffering of Hippolyte Courtès, he continues to tell Tempier about his own physical condition.

The pain I have in my heart has been strong and persistent yesterday and today; it has now been clearly proved to me that one’s state of mind has an extraordinary influence on our physical condition. I am going to see if, in the event it is impossible to cure the soul of its wounds, I can, by means of remedies, neutralize the reaction that my body is undergoing.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 11 May 1829, EO VII n 329

Four days later he reported to Tempier:

This evening, at the same time as the preceding one, I felt pain in the heart, but while it hurt, it was not nearly as strong as during the evening before, and lasted not so long. Hence I was able, while having some trouble in breathing, not only to sit up in bed, but to get up…  My actual state is that of a man whose interior organs do not have enough room to dilate and perform their functions while I am constricted in the chest, in the heart, in the stomach, in the head, everywhere. It is something quite bizarre but does not disquiet me at all.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 15 May 1829, EO VII n 330

Six months of being battered emotionally, with little regard for his physical well-being, now caused havoc to his health. He had no choice but to listen to his body.

Today, in our age of instant global communication, our well-being is under constant attack by so many negative forces. How much time and energy do we focus on caring for our bodies so as to maintain a healthy state of mind?

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians, 6:19-20

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Before Christmas I noticed that I was more tired than usual – but I put it down to all the rushing around and preparing for Christmas. I put it down to my age and reminded myself that I was not getting any younger and then I told myself that I would slow down after Christmas. But it all took a small toll on me and I think that the only thing that ‘saved’ me was daily prayer routine which I managed to remain faithful to – even there though I experienced some troubles and struggles and my heart did not always seem to be fully ‘in it’ for me. I was tired – even in my time of prayer – in my most treasured time of ‘being’.

    I focus on St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: a temple of the Holy Spirit within me – whom I have from God – purchased at a price. Those words jump out at me and I ‘experience’ them in a way that I have not before.

    The small and the ordinary – what does that look like with all of this? Well I must acknowledge my own limitations, my age and my own well-being. I need to feed myself in a healthy manner that will maintain my body and not just give it a quick-fix that will burn off immediately. I need to rest properly for the only one calling me to do so much is myself. And I need to be faithful to my prayer life for that is what nourishes and gives strength to my very being. Paul reminds us that we are not on our own. In all truth, my life comes from the community around me, from my ‘being’ in communion with them. Being in the presence and in communion with – God, my Beloved, that divine life within.

    It is from this that I will be strong, that I will experience and live joy and gratitude, that I will be open to following where the Spirit will lead me. God continues to mold me and form me – I am not yet done. That is exciting!

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