I am annoyed that Bernard is not more sensible of the value of the life and exercises of the novitiate. Lest he be deceived, it is there that is being laid the foundation of all the good he is being called to do.
Jean Bernard’s initial lack of cooperation as a novice soon changed and he did indeed lay the foundation of an outstanding missionary life. Or rather, he allowed God to buid the foundation according to theh process described by Eugene:
One must begin with self-renunciation; room must be made for the Lord to work in. Our clay is no good to serve as the building’s foundation. Abnegation, humility, and finally holy detachment as to all that God can ask of us, and which he makes known to us through superiors, here is the treasure hidden in the solitude of the novitiate. My God! how badly one knows oneself if one hopes to do anything without that! The most lively zeal will bring forth nothing but the vanity of pride.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille and to the Fathers and Brothers at Billens, 3 November 1831, EO VIII n 406
“Our clay is no good to serve as the building’s foundation” – we need to let go and let God do the building