THE PRIESTS MUST CARRY OUT THE CHARITABLE DUTIES REQUIRED OF THEIR HOLY MINISTRY, EVEN IF THEY RISK CATCHING CHOLERA

An outbreak of cholera was always an event that filled everyone with horror. Eugene heard that it had spread as far as Switzerland, and he was worried about the danger to the young Oblates in formation there. He wrote to their superior, Father Mille:

… The first thing I want to speak to you about is the “cholera-morbus” that the papers tell us has penetrated Switzerland; it makes me very worried to know that you are so close to a danger-zone and so far away from me. We are under the same threat as yourselves, and it is beyond my understanding how it has not yet got within our walls, seeing the total absence of precautions that simple prudence would demand.
God is giving me the grace not to be afraid of it, but I am afraid for you, as you have demonstrated that your wisdom is not always equal to your zeal. A great responsibility rests on your shoulders and you must not forget that the least imprudence that compromises the community in your charge would be imputed to you.

Eugene’s recommendation was that the scholastics be kept safely out of the way, but that the priests be prepared to risk catching the disease in order to minister to the sick and dying.

In the event of its coming, those who are not priests must be put in a place of safety and the priests themselves must carry out the charitable duties required of their holy ministry, taking suitable precautions.

Letter to Jean-Baptiste Mille, 21 April 1832, EO VIII n 420

Eugene himself had risked his life in 1814 to do the same for the Austrian prisoners of war and he expected his Oblates to be prepared to do the same – that is the meaning of “oblation”.

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One Response to THE PRIESTS MUST CARRY OUT THE CHARITABLE DUTIES REQUIRED OF THEIR HOLY MINISTRY, EVEN IF THEY RISK CATCHING CHOLERA

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene is reminds Fr. Mille – yes to safeguard the young ones, but also to remember that this is what ‘they signed up for’.

    I ask myself what are the ‘suitable’ precautions to be taken. Would I have the courage to minister to those who were so ill as the ones caught in the outbreak of cholera? I would like to think that I would step out and care for those who were dying or sick but… More than just pious words here Lord. Do I look through your eyes? How mcuh am I willing to dare for you?

    I think of the ‘white helmet brigade’ – young men in Syria, who go out in the midst of the bombings and the fighting to rescue innocent people who have been caught up in the war of their own country – the ones who were unable to escape and flee their homes. And how these young men wearing white helmets are the ones who are being targeted by their own government. Oblation.

    Would I be so loving? Would I take advantage of the grace and courage, the love offered by God? I would like to say yes… Perhaps it is a ‘heart’ thing. If my heart would respond – openly and fully. Responding in love. Oblation.

    I go for a moment to the OMI Lacombe Mission Statement and to the part where ‘we risk finding ourselves among the marginalized’ and that is nice but not enough. “…together we may help one another experience the love of god, so we may be healed and give of ourselves in the service of the continuous unfolding of the reign of God within creation.” That is it. I try out the words again. I never thought I would be able to read those words with intention and truth, that would come from within me and from without. Oblation. It’s not about me, but about me following he who is love.

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