THE ROLE OF CONSOLING ANGEL

For two months, Eugene was at the home of his sister, convalescing and also performing “the role of consoling angel” (Rey I p 478) to his 19-year-old niece, Nathalie de Boisgelin, who was dying.

He describes the situation to Fr Tempier, and shares his anguish:

She confided to me that even if she desired it on the one hand, she was extremely repelled by it on the other because Purgatory made her horribly afraid and she trembled in all her limbs just at the thought that on leaving this world she would be separated from God, since in Purgatory one cannot see God while going through cruel expiation of one’s sins. She wept while speaking thus to me.
Judge for yourself my position. Obliged, by duty of conscience, not to divert her mind from the death which she told me must be very close, and to suppress in my heart all the anguish and havoc that the sight of her did to me! You will know that I neglected nothing to inspire in this beautiful soul the amply justified motives of confidence which she ought to entertain.
But martyrdom on the rack, or iron claws or fire are nothing in comparison with the torments that conversing with her thus for half an hour made me feel. I cannot conceive how my heart does not burst on such occasions when I am forced to contain it while behaving and speaking as if no upheaval was going on within me.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 28 October 1829, EO VII n 339

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One Response to THE ROLE OF CONSOLING ANGEL

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Poor Nathalie and Eugene both. Eugene most likely wanted only to console her, to kiss away her hurts and struggles. But it was his job to speak from a Church stance. Having come from his own prolonged recuperation and rest – he would still have been in what I can only call a ‘weakened’ state as he tried to console and love little Nathalie. His love was such that it tore apart his heart to see her suffering as he did.

    Eugene’s role as he sat beside Marius Suzanne would have been a little different from this one being played out with Nathalie de Boisgelin. It reminds me how we are given the grace and strength to do as we must. It does not obliterate our sufferings but it does allow us to somehow rise above them. This would have been the only way that Eugene was able to manage his sorrow while playing the role of consoling angel.

    While some of these daily writings seem to have no inspirational values – these things that Eugene experienced, big and small continued to shape him as he went along. It is important to know not only the ‘big news events’ of his life but what it looked like from day-to-day. As my Spiritual Director says; it is in the ordinary that we find the extraordinary. It is like that in my own life – just as it was in Eugene’s.

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