I leave my room to take myself to the cathedral for divine service. Gladly indeed would I prolong still further my period of solitude, but St. Peter too would very gladly have remained on Mount Tabor. He was told as we are that one must come down from the mountain. Rest is neither due nor granted to us this side of heaven.
Eugene portrayed his retreat of Rule-focused prayer as being on Mount Tabor – a transfiguration experience in the presence of his beloved Savior. We have seen how the more he meditated on the Rule, the more amazed and moved he became at the beauty of his Oblate vocation. In the midst of that awe, he was reminded of members of his Congregation who almost seemed to scorn the beauty of their vocation and see their missionary work as a career and not a call.
Happily your last letter reached me at a point during my retreat when by God’s grace I had reached the state of detachment one has to have if one is not to lose one’s peace of mind amidst the contradictions and difficulties of life, and yet it seems to me that my indignation has grown against men who, called to perfection and enriched by the divine bounty with the most efficacious means to achieve it, do not respond to their call.
I have nothing but compassion for poor sinners, for errant men who have never seen the light except from afar, who do not know God and in consequence have no idea of the delight and happiness that there is in his service, in loving him, in devotion to him, in consecrating one’s existence to him, but for those who are not ignorant of these things and seem to despise them, it is only by taking time to deliberate that I can bring myself to endure their ingratitude and folly.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille and to the Fathers and Brothers at Billens, 3 November 1831, EO VIII n 406
Harsh words! A wake -up call to us not to make of our ministry a job to be done, a career to accomplish, but to see the use of our talents as a call – and to rediscover our awe at the beauty of our vocation.