Study was one of the ways in which the Oblates prepared themselves for evangelization. Eugene had been consulted by one of the seminarians as to the use of a particular book of moral theology. It was by a theologian, Concina, who was known for the rigidity and severity of his views. Eugene had agreed, but with further reflection, he realized what this meant for scholastic Brother Pons, who was “inclined to embrace opinions that are far too rigid.” He immediately wrote to him to stop using this book and to turn to the moral theology of Alphonsus Liguori which was based on the redeeming love of God

It was wrong of me, my dear Bro. Pons, to allow you to nourish yourself with Concina being, as you are, inclined to embrace opinions that are far too rigid. Concina will never be the author for our Congregation. Doctrinal uniformity being prescribed for us, we take it especially from the surest authors and prefer to derive from those whom the Church has recognized as having reached heaven a teaching quite contrary to that for which you have taken a liking.
Liguori, Blessed Liguori, who is going to be canonized, has been adopted by us as the doctor with whom we ought to be more in agreement. The Jesuits and some other Congregations are still more exclusive than we; I am content for the moment with the term I have employed; so, my dear Bro. Pons, let Concina lie in the stacks of the library and take Liguori in order to moderate the severity of the opinions that you have adopted too lightly.
You can console yourself for this separation by the thought that you are advancing along the right path, by following in the footsteps of saints. I was hoping to tell you all this viva voce; but my conscience prompts me not to leave it until tomorrow, since I’m at fault in giving consent upon too little reflection.
Adieu, dear son, I bless you.

Letter to Alexandre Pons, 28 January 1830, EO VII n 342

“To put into practice the teachings of our holy faith, it is not enough to convince ourselves that they are true; we must love them. Love united to faith makes us practice our religion.”   Alphonsus Liguori

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    If I didn’t already love St. Eugene then this would most surely have caused me to fall most deeply. Here again is Eugene with the face of love. “I know I said that but after a little reflection I realise that I have made a mistake and would rather that you do this.” His letter to Bro. Pons is a letter filled with love, with a heart that is open wide.

    I am one who needs to spend time reflecting on what another says, asks for, etc – I need to hear it, take it in and process it and only then respond, like Eugene did with Bro. Pons. Even after he had spoken he continued to think about it about it to the extent that he wrote this letter to Bro. Pons not even wanting to wait until they would visit and it could be said face to face. I think of Eugene’s heart here and the word ‘freedom’ comes to mind. The ‘letter of the law’ can be rigid and exclusive and so Eugene advocates that Bro. Pons be nourished and reflect from the standpoint of love.

    It is not enough to just learn the words (i.e. the law) but follow them, live them and be them in love. The how we learn and do and be, not just the what.

    Eugene sees that there is much to offer and many ways to be. He chooses that his shared spirit will not be rigid or exclusive but rather based on love and that show the same freedom that Alphonsus Liguori advocated. Eugene wrote “…by following in the footsteps of saints.” Is this not in part what we do as we come here each morning to be nourished?

  2. Patrick M McGee, OMI says:

    What a wonderful post, Frank! I love the citation and the good sense of it! Thank you, Saint Eugene!

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