OUR MOTTO IS PRUDENCE AND MODERATION, BUT WITH VIGILANCE, FIRMNESS AND COURAGE

Finally, news came from Fr Tempier. He wrote to Eugene that in the facing the difficult situation: “Our motto is prudence and moderation, but vigilance, firmness and courage” (REY. I. 489). Eugene responded:

I approve your conduct entirely. I did not expect less of you. You have done what must be done. I wish I were able to give the same praise to those of whom you speak to me

The violent behavior of the mobs had affected the Oblates in Nimes, who had been forced to escape with the Bishop and clergy, and Eugene was not impressed.

Guibert, in Laus, had stood firm – but then they had not been violently threatened.

Guibert has written to me and has not imitated them.
 Unless things have happened that you do not mention, I cannot conceive how the chaplain left his post. He did not do his duty in these circumstances; did he not have sick people to care for? That is where I would have remained – beside them. This good example would have done honor to his courage and to his ministry which is wholly one of charity.

We do not know who this chaplain is, but it is an attitude that Eugene would condemn later again during the cholera outbreaks in Marseilles, when some of the priests of his diocese were too frightened to remain with their suffering people.

He then points his Oblates to their lighthouse: the Rule of Life to give them serenity and courage as they fulfilled their ministerial duties.

In the name of God, let none of this turmoil effect adversely the regularity of our people. Let them be concerned with these events only to the extent that is necessary for them not to be aloof from what is happening; but let their piety and the holy practices of their state not suffer the least detriment. On the contrary, may all redouble their fervor and their application to their duties.

Finally, his advice to the scholastics to keep clear-headed about what they were supposed to be doing:

Maintain vigorously their studies; learning is an indispensable condition to be utilized wherever one may be.

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

In the face of seemingly-overwhelming difficulties, all are reminded to redouble our fervor and our application to our duties.

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One Response to OUR MOTTO IS PRUDENCE AND MODERATION, BUT WITH VIGILANCE, FIRMNESS AND COURAGE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    As I read the response of Henri Tempier in his letter to Eugene I think of the movie “Of Gods and Men”. Those Trappist monks who remained with the villagers and how they struggled, both alone and with each other whether to stay or to leave. It seemed that they too counselled each other to act then with prudence and moderation, but also vigilance, firmness and courage – all these born out of great love.

    I think for a moment of Eugene’s life in the Sulpician seminary and how he was affected by the current government back then, and he too stayed where he was to serve the seminarians who were not yet finished with their learning. Was he remembering that time when he wrote to Henri Tempier about the scholastics telling them to “maintain vigorously their studies; learning is an indispensable condition to be utilized wherever one may be”?

    And in the present – now – I am reminded of the struggles and fear that seem to be washing over us as peoples and nations – the threat of a nuclear war that could happen if the rhetoric and shouts continue to escalate and even more locally as hatred and violence seems only to beget more hatred and violence. And I am reminded of yesterday’s gospel, the boat full of apostles in the midst of a terrible storm and the Lords words to them as approached them on the waters telling them to be strong, to not be afraid.

    There is a moment of quiet awe and even new strength as I again realise how St. Eugene, his words and his life are so relevant to me in the here and now and how they ‘come together’ with the scriptures and speak of what is happening in my own life, addressing both my hopes and my fears and how it seems the Holy Spirit speaks through it all.

    Today is no different as Frank adds to all with “He then points his Oblates to their lighthouse: the Rule of Life to give them serenity and courage as they fulfilled their ministerial duties.” And “In the face of seemingly-overwhelming difficulties, all are reminded to redouble our fervor and our application to our duties.”

    With all that is happening in today’s world it would be so easy to succumb to the fear and the hatred, to turn away from it all. Franks reminder causes me to question how strong is my faith and how I live it? The ‘Rule of Life’ – is it just for the good times or can even I call on it now in these times of fear and struggle?

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