Not exactly a profound spiritual thought, but just a glimpse into Eugene’s chatty narrative to his friend, Henri Tempier, about everyday life in the seminary in Billens.

Everyone is very well. And in fact the only thing lacking here is wine, a lack shared by everyone in these parts. They drink it occasionally with visitors. For the rest, it does not enter their heads. The daily fare is very good. Every day they have soup, two helpings, a good piece of beef, a course of cabbage and newly-salted pork, very fine and tasty and very often too some local sausage. That makes three courses, not counting the sausages. At other times they have a plate of creamed turnips and cheese for dessert. At evening they often have veal. The morning and evening soups are made from stock and bread is freely available. You see there is no cause for complaint
With this they do good work, teachers and students, each does his duty. Classes of dogmatic and moral theology, philosophy, sacred elocution, mathematics, literature, history, geography, not to mention singing and liturgy. For the moment German cannot be fitted in, there are not sufficient hours in the day or even in the week. All these different occupations are well distributed, in such a way that not a moment of the day is lost.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 22 August 1831, EO VIII n 401

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Today is Monday morning and so I will go to St. Paul University to volunteer. I will spend the morning in a space called the “Oasis”, a space for students (as well as staff and professors) to come to chat and discuss, and just ‘be’ together. We talk, question, discuss and share about this course or that, some highlights and some low points; about a game that was played or a show that was seen; about how the weekend went. In short we chat – not necessarily about something profound or deep, but about what is happening in our lives.

    I think of Eugene’s mandate for the Youth congregation – they were to spend time in studies and time in prayer and time in play, etc., etc. Everything in our lives is a piece that completes and rounds out the full picture, sort of like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, which on their own do not look like much of anything, but together with the other pieces – what a picture they form.

    I am reminded this morning of some of Ann Mortifee’s music, in particular the song “Born to Live” from her ‘Baptism’ album.

    BORN TO LIVE (Ann Mortifee & Michel Legrand)

    We were born to live, not just survive
    Though the road be long and the river wide
    Though the seasons change and the willows bend
    Though some dreams break, some others mend

    We were born to give and born to take
    To win and lose and to celebrate
    We were born to know and born to muse
    To unfold our hearts, take a chance and choose

    We were born to love though we feel the thorn
    When a ship sets sail to return no more
    Though a door be closed and we feel the pain
    To chance it all and to love again

    We were born to reach, to seek what’s true
    To surrender all to make each day new
    We were born to laugh and born to cry
    To rejoice and grieve, just to be alive

    We were born to hope and to know despair
    And to stand alone when there’s no one there
    We were born to trust and to understand
    That in every heart there’s an outstretched hand

    We were born to live, to be right and wrong
    To be false and true, to be weak and strong
    We were born to live, to break down the walls
    And to know that life is to taste it all

    The other piece that I particularly like of hers is called “When the Rains Come” – it too is not what we might call ‘spiritual’ in the traditional sense but there I find myself walking, not alone, but with God and so many others. Perhaps it’s just a matter of how we look at it.

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