Writing to the community superior about the Oblate whose exaggerated preoccupation with his health had led him to lose focus, Eugene continued:
Such great precautions cannot be taken without notable loss to the interior life. At the same time there is a serious weakening of personal virtue. I do not know if he had held on to even the least vestige of religious life, at any rate he was far from understanding the value of perfection as affirmed by all who serve as models in this field. It was inevitable that his behaviour would be affected by an outlook so little in accord with the spirit of Jesus Christ …
You know that this man has a solid foundation, but over-much esteem for learning to which perhaps he gave preference over sanctity caused a withdrawal of grace and light; then, over-much care of his health led him to neglect even things that can never be abandoned with impunity. From that results a state of imperfection from which it is vital that he emerge [if he] does not want to leave himself open to complete collapse.
Letter to Hippolyte Courtés, 7 January 1832, EO VIII n 413
Too much of a focus on learning and on personal health had led him to a loss of focus on spiritual “grace and light” – a dangerous situation for a missionary’s relationship with Jesus Christ.
I was struck by John Piper’s statement: “If God’s love for his children is to be measured by our health, wealth, and comfort in this life, God hated the apostle Paul.”
Where does God fit into my physical concerns; how does care for my body fit into my spirituality?