STRENGTH IN ORDER TO ACT WITH FREEDOM OF SPIRIT AND SEEMING SERENITY WHEN MY SOUL IS IN UTMOST DESOLATION

Eugene continues to share with Henri Tempier, his confidant, the aguish he was living as he assisted his niece at her deathbed.

So I confirmed, by a superhuman effort which upset my whole being, the vague understanding which she had that her end was close; she wished me to administer her the last sacraments; what a duty to fulfil!
I have necessarily to remain beside her; our Rules prescribe that we go, several times a day if necessary, to the sick persons in our care who are in danger; I stay right at my post and perform my ministry, but am very much in need of God’s assistance. I expressly bid you to let the Capuchin Sisters know my niece’s condition, so that they may pray and obtain for her the graces which she needs in this terrible moment; strength, courage, confidence in God.
As for me, I will need resignation when the fatal moment arrives, but for the moment, a surpassing strength in order to act with freedom of spirit and seeming serenity when my soul is in utmost desolation. Our sick girl is ever a model of patience which she exerts to the point of heroism.

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

Nathalie died a couple of weeks later on November 14 at the age of 19.

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One Response to STRENGTH IN ORDER TO ACT WITH FREEDOM OF SPIRIT AND SEEMING SERENITY WHEN MY SOUL IS IN UTMOST DESOLATION

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    As so often happens my thoughts are ‘all over the place’ this morning. Wondering why some have to die so young – not having the opportunity to sample and taste all that God offers us at this banquet of life. My thoughts turn to some of the people I know who have lost a child – whether young or moving into and through adulthood, myself included and 43 years later there is still some grief. My own helps me to understand and accept Eugene’s for he loved so greatly. It took a great toll on his spirit and his body.

    This morning as I sit here I contemplate going back to bed where I have spent the last few days with a ferocious head cold that has wiped me of my strength and ability to function properly let alone reflect and pray. And while I am getting better I seem still unable to order my body into having any great strength. I am drawn back to Eugene who has been so incredibly ill. He is there with his niece Nathalie who is dying while he himself is in a weakened state of health and his body is just beginning to recover from an illness that seemed to overtake him with the death of Marius Suzanne. He speaks of the superhuman strength that he needed in order to minister and be with Nathalie as the Rules prescribed and which his heart mandated. Not a drama queen but simply free to love incredibly deeply those he meets and then speak of that love and the anguish that comes when that person returns to God. Who among us is any different when we love another or many others?

    In his last paragraph Eugene wrote: “…a surpassing strength in order to act with freedom of spirit and seeming serenity when my soul is in utmost desolation” and the image that comes to mind is of Mary, Mother of Tenderness, standing at the foot of the cross as Jesus dies. I suppose it is not odd that I would liken Eugene’s being to that of Mary considering his deep devotion to her.

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