An idea of the uncertain and dangerous situation in France is given in this letter that Eugene wrote to Fr. Mille, the superior of the scholasticate in Billens, about some indiscretions on the part of the students in their letters.

...One well sees that you have not yet acquired a right idea of the circumspection with which one must write in times of revolution. It would be impossible to let pass a certain number of expressions apt to compromise those who write to me and those who receive the letters. So, my dear children, I beg you to content yourselves henceforth to give news of yourselves to your parents through Fr. Tempier. The matter is too important to leave it to your inexperience.
Mazet, for example, did not realize that he committed an extreme imprudence by relating that the Bishop of Nancy [ed. Charles  Forbin Janson] had come to visit you as soon as he arrived in Fribourg. He did not know apparently that this holy Bishop is banned, that a price has been put on his head by the brigands of his diocese, that they spy on all his movements and that all those who have too close relations with him become suspect.
When necessary, one ought to fear nothing but, without necessity, one ought not to. Others, in addressing some of our Fathers, call them by their real names, others express themselves unconcernedly about what goes on at Billens; in short, in spite of my recommendations, you have all more or less committed some imprudence.

Letter to Jean-Baptiste Mille and the scholastics, 17 November 1830, EO VII n 371

Troubled times indeed. A reminder today of the many members of the Mazenodian Family who find themselves in dangerous situations in their countries at this very moment – ad an invitation to pray for them.


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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It is sometimes difficult to imagine what it would be like to have to worry about staying true to who we are. To have to be on guard constantly of what said and shared, of how another is addressed – to be always on guard. Oppressive is the word that comes to mind.

    Yesterday I returned to volunteer at St. Paul University, to welcome back returning students and greeting those who were there for the first time. The conversations were full of joy and anticipation, meeting new friends, excitement over the courses being taken; catching up with some and opening the circles of friendships to others. There were hugs, smiles, sharing of contact information and the opening of doors to each other. No guise, no need to guard oneself was necessary. Hard to imagine that it is not always that way for everyone.

    Last night I went to bed thanking God for being able to witness and take part in the joy of yesterday and this morning I find myself needing to go a little further as I think of the many who cannot enjoy the same freedoms. I am reminded of the words from the OMI Lacombe Canada Mission Statement: a pledge, a prayer:

    “Disciples of Jesus, with the heart of Mary Immaculate,
    sons and daughters of Eugene de Mazenod,
    we are called to be Oblate missionaries in this time and place.
    As daring members of the prophetic Church,
    we stand with the voiceless, sharing and making heard their cry,
    which is a cry to God who brings down the powerful and lifts up the lowly.
    In so doing, we risk finding ourselves among the marginalized of
    our community, our society and our church,
    taking our place among the poor and the powerless,
    walking with those who, like us, hold within themselves tremendous beauty,
    strength and gifts as well as weaknesses, brokenness and limitations, that together
    we may help and give ourselves in the service of the continuous unfolding of the
    reign of God within creation.”

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