Fr. Yenveux, who had collated many of the Founder’s letters commented on this one: “Rev. Fr. Tempier, not having informed in time the Rev. Fr. Superior General of the date of the annual retreat at the house of Aix, and having asked Rev. Fr. de Mazenod to come and hear his retreat confession, the latter admonished him paternally that too often he only told him of things after they had been done, which is contrary to the deference due to superiors”.

The letter has interesting sentiments. Eugene, probably short on patience because of his convalescence and family suffering, was usually inclined to micromanage everything in the Oblate Congregation (we were only 30 then) and was irritated by Henri Tempier’s laid-back attitude of not keeping him informed. “Father Superior” he may have been, but this letter also shows that they were close “Oblate brothers” and this is what was important.

I cannot be annoyed with you about anything, even when you fail in some duty, because you do it rather by distraction or by some sort of habitual independence that your position has given you ever since you joined the Society. Notwithstanding such reflections, I must say I would have left unhesitatingly this very day in order to be with you, had you not let me know that your retreat which began on Sunday would last only four days. I thought I would arrive only after you had made your confession and would thus be of no use to you; so I have not stirred.
I confine myself to uniting my feeble prayers to yours in order to draw down upon you all the blessings that I could wish for myself, and that is not remarkable because I have never considered you other than as one who is identical to myself, that is why I not only love you very much, but share with you so willingly all my thoughts, while being surprised nevertheless that independently of our inter-related positions, you have so much trouble sharing yours with me.
Make a resolution once and for all to be less tight-lipped with me. I learn about things after they have been done. This manner of acting is diametrically opposed to the idea that one ought to have of deference and subordination, understood even in the mildest sense.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 6 October 1829, EO VII n 338

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene obviously felt ‘safe’ enough to not only write these words but then also to mail the letter! I imagine what it must have been like to receive such a letter – and then to hang on to it (vs throwing it in the fire) or worse – writing back in the same tone as the first letter. I wonder how Eugene felt after he had mailed the letter.

    I am again most grateful at where I have been led – Eugene is not just some ‘plaster’ saint but someone who is much like me in any ways. To be able to relate – what a gift that is.

    I wonder for a moment of Jesus and what he might have been like in the midst of his family, growing up and living like we do. I wonder what kinds of inner torment he suffered that was of course not written about in an outright manner but which maybe was alluded to. He also had a few ‘off’ moments or days.

    I sit here this morning recognizing both myself and some of those I love. A few “Aha” moments. When I love, when I fall in love – I tend to see only the light and the goodness of that person(s) – but as that love grows and deepens I also experience much as both Eugene (and I am sure Henri Tempier) did 200 years ago. Of course at this moment I am thinking of a particular person who I have come to love dearly but who I am often unable to understand or figure out what is going on. I think for a moment of the steadfastness of God.

    This loving of others is not always easy.

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