I AM UTTERLY OUT OF MY ELEMENT HERE, BEING MOREOVER OF NO USE FOR ANYTHING OR TO ANYONE.

Poor Eugene! Frustrated because of his slow convalescence. Disappointed with the behavior of some of the Oblates. Annoyed because he could not be fulfilling his responsibilities as Vicar General in Marseilles. Now came the political crisis and we touch something of his raw state of nerves and anxiety for the Oblates and for his uncle, the 83-year old Bishop Fortuné.

Is it conceivable that you have had the hard-headedness, in such times as we are traversing, to leave me without letters from July 27 to August 4! I told you, in my last letter, to let me know immediately whether my uncle would consider it wise that I return to his side. I repeat the same question; I am utterly out of my element here, being moreover of no use for anything or to anyone.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 9 August 1830, EO VII n. 353

Four days later we find him still suffering from his inability to do anything.

Unless, my dear friend, you may have written letters to me on the 20th, the 27th and August 4th, it is impossible not to be afflicted over your failure to send me news of yourselves of which I have such great need. I am tired of repeating that, in the grave circumstances in which you are, it would not be too much to write three times a week. You can imagine that I think only of you and that I feel here like a fish out of water.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 13 August 1830, EO VII n. 354

We can all identify with the experience of worrying about loved ones who are far away and may be in danger – and we seemingly can do nothing for them because of distance, illness, age or other circumstances. We are encouraged by Eugene:

I will say to you however that I am not discouraged and that I am afflicted without being laid low. It seems to me that Our Lord will help us by his grace to endure all our sorrows.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 23 August 1830, EO VII n 359

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One Response to I AM UTTERLY OUT OF MY ELEMENT HERE, BEING MOREOVER OF NO USE FOR ANYTHING OR TO ANYONE.

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    As I first read the pieces from these letters to Henri Tempier I wanted to tell Eugene to get a grip and I sympathized with Fr. Tempier. But as I began to look a little deeper, I reminded myself that Eugene did not like having to rest and do little or nothing, and unlike today he was not able to turn on the news to see what was happening, to go onto the web or Facebook, and there were no phones for him to pick up and call Fr. Tempier.

    I am in the position of waiting for a couple of things to happen or not. I have no control over the outcome of my requests which are important to me each in their own way. So I wait. It has become a little bit about how I wait. I do not try to hurry either process, I also do not, or try not to let it consume me. I have reminded God (as if God needs to be reminded) that it is important to me in almost the same breaths as I have also asked to be filled with patience and love. Love that looks outward as I go about my daily routines and business. I can do nothing to prepare for that which I have no control over and so waiting it is. I am, I think, called (and maybe sort of forced) to live in the current moments. If at the end of the wait I am happy or sad still I will not have wasted my time or given up on anything or anyone.

    I want to continue to be as ‘graceful’ as Eugene when he said that he was not discouraged and even though sick, he was not bed-ridden. When both of these ‘processes’ began I told God that I would abide (with life and joy) what was his will for me. The waiting is not always perfectly smooth or peaceful, but it’s getting better. God does truly help me to endure our sorrows, no matter if they are big or small.

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