Eugene had hoped to spend his last hours in Billens with the scholastics, but Bishop Forbin Janson had unexpectedly arrived to visit, and Eugene had had to spend time with him instead.

God alone, my dear children, can know what a sacrifice has been imposed on me by the touching and insistent friendship of the excellent Bishop of Nancy. I had promised myself several hours to enjoy your sweet company, my heart felt the need to be expansive, to express to each of you the sentiments of this tender affection with which it is filled for children so worthy of all my love. It was necessary to suppress, to stifle somewhat this outpouring of a soul which powerfully felt the need to communicate itself, and on leaving you I had to bear away my sorrow, my regret, without any of the consolations that I hoped from your last embraces and the moments I had saved in order to devote them to you entirely.

He then launches into one of his many expressions of fatherly pride and love for his Oblate sons.

This sacrifice has been so painful that I have dared to offer it to the good God in expiation of what perhaps is excessive in the affection that I have for you, if however one can love too much the children who have never given me the least reason for displeasure, who advance with fervor in the way that God has traced for them and who give such fine hope to the Church and our Congregation which they serve already so well by their regularity and their good example.

Whatever his human affection, his love for the Oblates was always linked with their spiritual welfare. The closer they were to God and in practicing the means to be good religious and missionaries,

Dear children, may God keep you always in the dispositions in which I see you! May you ever grow in wisdom and virtue since the store thereof is inexhaustible. You know that the attachment of your father is proportioned to the efforts that you make to approach more closely the perfection for which we all ought to strive.

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


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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am struggling with some of Eugene’s wording – this morning it seems to be a little too much ‘over the top’ and I am allowing only the words ‘tender affection’ to touch and soften, to disarm me. Frank and Eugene’s words going around and around that seem to temp me to find an excuse to walk away. Going over it again I realise it is only a few words that have wormed their way into me. Do I ‘have to be worthy of love’? There it is – that’s what I am struggling with. A very old wound that has been hiding, but that has somehow been woken this morning.

    I am a little disappointed – today begins Class 2 in our Oblate Studies and later on this morning I will head off for a retreat with Fr. Bonga. “I” would like to start of this day inspired and able to fully respond.

    Perhaps I need to just sit here and let the discontent to drop away rather than allowing it to find life. That way I will be able to come here later and perhaps sit a little longer with Eugene and what he was saying.

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