I THEN COMPLAINED IN A WAY TO GOD FOR HAVING GIVEN ME MORE THOUGHTS, MORE DESIRES, MORE MEANS, MORE WILL THAN PHYSICAL STRENGTH

Eugene’s birthday found him in the somber mood of the reflection of one who is limited during recovery from serious illness and feels frustrated.

1830 marks the beginning of a very difficult phase in Eugene’s life. It was a dark night which was to last for several years and from which he emerged as a wiser figure who had grown much.

As you look at the date on this letter, you will recall my dear friend that I enter today into my forty-ninth year. I was busy yesterday, the whole day, with the thoughts that the circumstance of the end of my forty-eighth year brought to mind. I have groaned, as you can imagine, over a quantity of miseries; I thanked God for many graces, but I was saddened – and it is here that I have been wrong – to find in my life, as a whole, a field greater than that which I have walked on; I meant that it seems to me I have not really fulfilled my course. Is it my fault? Is it a question of time?

Looking back on his life, he is conscious of not having achieved all that he could have. He asked himself whether this was his own fault or had he been a victim of circumstances.

The director to whom I confided these regrets seemed persuaded that it is the fault of the times and the misfortune of circumstances. I then complained in a way to God for having given me more thoughts, more desires, more means, more will than physical strength.

Ruminating about what he could have achieved had he not had these obstacles, he wishes he had been born under different circumstances.

If, to be just, I agreed to admit to myself that I had habitually profited enough from the situations in which I have found myself to act, even with some courage, in the midst of obstacles of every kind, I felt rather annoyed in a way at not having been placed in another time, or in some other position where I could have discharged all the energy that was in me, and which fades because it is not used.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 1 August 1830, EO VII n 351

Let us remember that he is convalescing as he writes to Father Tempier, his confidant and confessor, and so he reflects his intimate thoughts and questions out loud as he writes. We witness a rare glimpse into the frustration of one who was used to being a man of action and constant activity and, who was now, incapacitated.

 

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One Response to I THEN COMPLAINED IN A WAY TO GOD FOR HAVING GIVEN ME MORE THOUGHTS, MORE DESIRES, MORE MEANS, MORE WILL THAN PHYSICAL STRENGTH

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I look at Eugene this morning with eyes of love and my heart hears his struggles with his own human limitations. “…if I had been born in another time – another place – to different parents – with different gifts…” This is not ingratitude or lessening of love – it is human. Frank writes of how we are gifted to witness some of Eugene’s intimate thoughts and his struggles. I think of how he wrote in his diaries, especially his diary entries from his yearly retreats.

    All that excess energy that was within him and that he felt was not being used – the word oblation comes to mind. ‘Here I am Lord, I am yours – do with me what you will.’

    Yes I recognize some of Eugene’s struggles – at first glance asking why would he think as he has and struggle as he did? Eugene did so much, gave so much of himself, of his life. Then I think about some of the times I have been struggling with my own weaknesses and limitations and perhaps sharing that with a dear friend (today many save that for their doctors or their confessors) and been told by that friend to look again at all that I have done, reminding me of where I have come from. It’s not just what I have done, but what God has done and does within me. Gratitude being my silent partner.

    There is a very small joy in me this morning because I am able to relate personally to Eugene’s words and struggles as he shares them with Fr. Tempier. They bring me closer to Eugene, the church and the Mazenodian Family for this is all part of his gift, his charism. I have never done the big things in life that Eugene did, like founding a congregation or having such an effect on the Church, or any government. But it seems to me this morning that in being able to relate to Eugene and his inmost thoughts and struggles, his experiences of God – it brings light to a hidden darkness that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.

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