It had been a difficult period for Eugene, and now an Oblate he loved and admired, Fr. Capmas, dying a painful death. Eugene reveals his grief and criticizs those who pretend not to have the need to express their grief:

At the same time I certainly do not boast to being insensitive to the blows that seem at times about to crush us…
I would not want that kind of perfection if it were offered me. I will even go further and say that I am in a way scandalized to see it lauded in some biographies and attributed (no doubt without foundation) to men who are thus, at the expense of truth, dehumanized and calumniated, in my opinion, in a cruel way.
Jesus Christ is our only model and he did not set us an example of that kind. I adore Him as he sighs and weeps outside Lazarus’s tomb and I despise and abhor displays of stoicism, insensitivity and egoism from people who seem to want to outdo this prototype of every perfection, who so wanted to sanctify every aspect of our sad pilgrimage.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 11 January 1831, EO VII n 380

This is one of the sayings of Eugene that has impacted me and made him such a model for me. As Jesus wept, so did Eugene, and so can we, because “Jesus Christ is our only model.”





So I tremble as I wait for the news you will give me on Thursday. My thoughts are all, on this occasion, for the common welfare of the family, more than of any personal consideration or affection. I prepare myself for whatever may happen with prayer and complete abandonment to the will of Him who is Master of our destinies and for whom we have been placed on this earth.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 11 January 1831, EO VII n 380


Here now is something else to add to your worries, my dear friend. If God in his goodness takes this poor sick man to Himself, you are going to find yourself in an embarrassing situation, and all because some in their wisdom would say that it is a useless precaution in time of health to make a will. I have nothing to reproach myself with on the score of not giving advice when it was needed. While passing through N.D. du Laus I had advised him to gather together the money he used to leave scattered about with unbelievable carelessness. He told me on that occasion that it was his intention to leave some of it to our family. I think it my duty to inform you of the intention he confided to me. Take steps to see that his papers are not destroyed. I make no bones about claiming ownership of them. I mean his sermons, instructions etc. Don’t let anyone at all touch them, and if someone has already been indiscreet, make sure you get everything back into your possession. Lazy or incompetent people are quite capable of decking themselves in borrowed plumes. Please God, all these precautions will prove unnecessary.


My patience has reached its limits over my enforced inaction; if by tomorrow or Saturday the 15th at the latest I have received no letters, I will do my best to come to an understanding with the Vicar General[1] and leave.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 11 January 1831, EO VII n 380


[1] Allusion to the expectation of letters from Father Grassi concerning a foundation in Sardinia. The latter wrote on the 10th, but still without being able to give a definite answer (REY. I. 502).

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “We must lead men to act like human beings, first of all, and then like Christians, and, finally, we must help them to become saints.” This – from the first time I heard it ‘impacted’ me, touched me deeply and seemed to turn my world on end. Sometimes unsure if I even understand it – but still it has come to me this morning.

    Reading Eugene’s letter I think of Jesus as spoken of here – fully human; finishing what he was doing, running and meeting Martha and Lazarus – four days dead. Even as Jesus weeps he is speaking of believing, faith and then calling Lazarus to come out. Eugene with Jesus as the model. Eugene, so able to share his emotions, allowing all of them, his humanness, brokenness to be part of him.

    I have struggled and still do at times with the thought of Jesus being my model. So unattainable was He for me, for so very long, and my unworthiness, my imperfections, my brokenness – they all played a huge part in that. And when I would look at Jesus I would stop and say – but that was Jesus, Son of God, divine and I would separate him because of that from his humanness. Back to Eugene who was broken and yet he was able to hold the two together for the third to become a reality. That whole!

    Underlying the retreat that Fr. Bonga gave to us was that theme; Human, Christian, Sanctity, Mission. As I began and still am beginning to look at my own brokenness Eugene’s words from The Preface are once again fully alive within me. The whole – that is what is within me this morning – that is how our sometimes sad pilgrimage is sanctified.

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