TO AVOID A COLLISION I HAD TO PLACE MANY THINGS AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

The Oblates had been at the shrine of Notre Dame du Laus since 1819 and, in those 13 years, had made it a flourishing center of mission activities which attracted many pilgrims. The local bishop, who was Jansenist and a Gallican, objected to the pastoral approach of the Oblates which was based on the mercy of God manifested in Jesus Christ the Savior and not on the rigorous harshness of legal prescriptions. He had written two strong letters to Eugene, who responded:

I deliberately put off replying to the two letters that you did me the honor of writing. I had hoped that further reflection would soften the extensive rigor of your thinking, and that you would not insist on cruelly grieving priests who pride themselves on having some claim to your affection and to whom you have not denied your high regard.
God is my witness that in my relationships with you, I have done all that depended on me to avoid a collision. I had to place many things at the foot of the cross, for I have scarcely been spared.

Letter to Bishop Arbaud of Gap, 20 February 1833, EO XIII n 81

It was always to the Cross that Eugene looked to for inspiration, strength and endurance in difficult situations.

He poses a challenging question: when I am upset with someone do I first lash out and then calm down and go to the foot of the Cross to ask forgiveness – or can I go to the foot of the Cross first as St. Eugene teaches?

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One Response to TO AVOID A COLLISION I HAD TO PLACE MANY THINGS AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associates says:

    Why have I not thought of this before? I re-read this short piece again and realise it is really loaded – I am seeing things a little differently this morning. Eugene does not skirt-the-issue and he speaks in truth; “…insist on cruelly grieving priests” but he does not appear to be a combative nor is his stance filled with anger as evidenced in his writing “I had hoped that further reflection would soften the extensive rigor of your thinking…”

    Again and again he inspires me, as does Frank when he poses his questions. There is within me that woundedness that can be raw and alive – it is from that place that I find myself ‘wanting’ to lash out when I am upset with someone – in both large and small fears and hurts. And that lashing out never – never brings calm or peace or any kind of satisfaction for it seems only to feed on itself and everything (including myself) seems to become empty. And eventually I do go to the foot of the Cross. Why do I not go to the foot of the Cross immediately? I remember my grandmother telling me to ‘offer it up’ for the sake of something. Back then – what did she mean to ‘offer it up’ – my sorrow, my wounded heart…

    Upon opening this today I read the title and thought immediately of going to the foot of the cross – to offer my struggles and my pains, my fears and uncertainties as a sacrifice? Where is that coming from? What kind of a sacrifice is that? The word “oblation” slowly enters my consciousness. To offer my sorrows and struggles, my desire to sometimes ‘get even’ or to ‘punish’ – to offer this my poverty to the Lord. A sacrifice, an offering on a tarnished tray and then to look up through the eyes of my Beloved and to ‘respond’ with love.

    This sounds rather pious – but if I can manage it eventually, then why not immediately? St. Eugene you disarm me.

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