In the previous reflection we looked at the letter of Eugene to the Bishop of Gap regarding the Shrine of Notre Dame du Laus. Now Eugene writes to Fr Guibert directly about the same delicate situation.

I admired the means you employed to bring this difficult man to a more reasonable frame of mind, and in taking the whole affair into your hands you got me out of a very embarrassing situation and saved the day. Discussion in the context envisaged by the Bishop of Gap would have been bound to come out badly.

Yvon Beaudoin explains the background in a footnote: “The Bishop and clergy of Gap were already having thoughts of resuming the direction of N.-D. du Laus and of making it a retirement home for elderly priests. As to the latter, Father Guibert was prepared to accept them but Bishop Arbaud found his conditions too onerous. The Bishop of Gap continued to find fault with the Oblates especially on account of the interests they had shown in Lamennais and of their moral teaching, inspired by St. Alphonsus. While saying nothing more about the dismissal of the Oblates, he asked for at least Father Guibert’s departure. Bishop de Mazenod refused and told the superior to pass on this refusal to the prelate, who left things as they were. The better relationship that now existed between Bishop Arbaud and Father Guibert saved the Founder from an embarrassing situation: basically, it was the latter’s moral teachings and past relationships with Lamennais that the Bishop did not approve.”

We had right, fair dealing and justice on our side, he had might and unbridled power in his hands and given his character and formation he would have used them. You were not too far out in what you said concerning Lamennais’ views. These gentlemen have always mistaken my esteem for the author with the use they imagined I made of his works, nor did they make any distinction as to period. I am also strongly in favour of the plan of action you propose to follow in his respect; for his part he ought to remove the obstacles he places to all vocations…

Letter to Hippolyte Guibert, 25 March 1833, EO VIII n 444

Again, an example of the many sensitive issues and tricky situations that Eugene had to navigate the Oblate Congregation through.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am again this morning reminded of the news that is coming out of the USA about abuse within the Church.

    A few days ago a friend sent me another email (one of a few that I have been getting) about the scandal of abuse within the Church – in particular the latest one to come out of the US. It is something that has been sitting uncomfortably and painfully within the hearts of many. I too have been struggling with it – what do I say to my friends – how do I manage to hold it within me and not lash out – at anyone? I think for a moment of Jesus on the Cross, and I think of those who looked at him on the Cross as he was dying.. Oddly enough there has not been a desire to lash out at those who are making statements, but there is horrible sorrow within me that does not have a release.

    My friend in his last email said that he is seriously leaving thinking of leaving the Church – if there is more abuse that occurs within the Church. Knowing it is not all clergy and that it happens in sports, in the work place and most particularly in the home – what to do, what can we do? I read what Eugene said: “…he had might and unbridled power in his hands and given his character…” and I remember Eugene’s response to the horrors of what happened within the Church in France after the French Revolution and how Eugene ‘ran into…’ rather than running away from.

    I share my response now to my friend in how I am trying to handle all of this.

    “On a very personal level I have had to deal with the Church’s betrayal in my own life so many years ago and each time I hear about more abuse – my reaction is that I want to run and hide telling myself I just don’t want to go there again. I am not sure I want to deal with it. So I take it in. Funny but my stance has been that of Mary standing under the cross – that is so very Oblate and has been my stance for many years now – from that viewpoint I look up into the eyes of Jesus our crucified Saviour and so then see the world through his eyes. To stand there at the foot of the cross is not to deny, but to take it in – it becomes the sacrifice. […] If we stand with Mary we simply stand there, in the midst of it, taking it in and carrying it. I think that is the stance of one who has suffered and been able to find healing.

    A few years ago I was looking at an old Church magazine and came across the ordination picture of a priest – one who had taken part in my abuse – I was devastated. […] I took the picture home with me and placed it on my desk so that I would see it as I began my morning prayer – thus forcing (and eventually reminding) me to pray for him. Healing came very slowly.

    I think that all of us in the Church who love her quite dearly are suffering with all of this. So often I do not know how to respond to all of the news that continues to come out – other than to hold it, to hold the victims and the abusers in my heart and then at the foot of the cross to offer them up to Jesus.”

    That sounds so incredibly ‘pious’ but it is my reality. I asked my friend to keep sending me emails and to talk with me – maybe together we can hold it and somehow stand together. I shared with him how one of the facets or components of my prayers since my conversion experience 39 years ago has been that I felt called to love and pray for in a very real way those who were unloved, those who for any reason did not receive love. It has been very hard to do that especially in the light today’s world. God alone knows how hard this is for me to do sometimes, but then God called for this insane way of loving and he gives me the grace.

    Forgive me for taking up so much space this morning, but this is what I have learned from Eugene which helps me not to give up in today’s world.

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