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

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I remember when I ‘prepared’ to go to my very first AA meeting – a life-time ago. I felt I was taking a huge risk, there was no surety. If I let go of the alcohol and drugs would I still have voice – even if it was raw and hoarse. Would I be just an empty bottle; caked in dirt and grime, cracked and broken and unable to hold anything.

    Back then – when God kissed life into me, new life. As I slowed down from running away I heard music. Instead of running from life I slowed down so I could listen, follow the notes. Back then.

    Gradually I’ve let go of some (not all) that was cluttering and filling up the space. I was introduced to a new music hall, a tune that I had never hard before, I did not know that it had been written. I stopped and sat down to listen, humming to myself some of the bars that slowly become a part of me. I have looked at so many of the instruments – not really feeling worthy to be any of them, but always being invited by my Beloved and by the conductor to get serious about it. In truth I did not have to worry about it for my beloved had chosen for me the most perfect one. I need only to remember to let go of those other melodies that were not for me.

    Now like a piano I am being fine-tuned. Some of the keys are discordant and yet others sound so beautiful. Not perfect but there is music now – I am like music and no longer just noise. I like this image of being an instrument where when the keys are played there is joyous music. There is ongoing tuning being done within me. I have been studying the Constitutions and Rules – the sheet music offered so I might play the particular melody. The notes all there. I want this melody to become a part of me. So beautiful are the notes, so resonant the tones.

    I can’t believe I am using this image. I think back to an image I was given some years ago of an orchestra with Eugene as the conductor. I really liked it, but I pictured myself just sitting down to just listen to the music rather than be a part of it. Somewhere along the way I have been invited to come up and learn the melody, be a part of this most magnificent music.

    I am coming to know that music within myself.

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