Yvon Beaudoin gives us the background to Eugene’s letter: “The Founder had seen the Pope again on October 2, and was to leave Rome on the 11th. He received however the letter dated September 28 in which Father Tempier sent him a letter from M. Barthe, Minister of Worship, in which he declared the Bishop of Icosia to be incapacitated from exercising any ecclesiastical function in the Kingdom and to be no longer vicar general of Marseilles. Father Tempier consequently put it to his superior that he should stay on in Rome so as not to expose himself to expulsion from France by the police.”

I won’t pretend that I wasn’t upset at the last point you make, more because it delays my return to my family than from sorrow that obstacles have been placed to the exercise of my ministry. If it didn’t damage the principles of the Catholic faith or the Church’s discipline. I would on the contrary be delighted by this turn of events, it is the nicest thing that could happen to me and it would get me the peace and quiet I have been longing for for so long, but infinitely more since I’ve seen how impotent one is to accomplish good works even by self-sacrifice…
I have received the fullness of the priesthood, and this is for myself and for the whole Church the best witness possible that I have served it well; it only remains for me now to make use for my own personal sanctification of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that I have received so abundantly and from which I have not yet derived as much profit as I would like.
It would have been a reasonable expectation on people’s part to think that I am still young enough to be able to do something for them. As God disposes differently, and allows wicked men their way. I will turn it to my profit, at least this is my hope in reliance on his mercy; whether in France or in Rome, it will be open to me to choose a place of retirement.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 8 October 1833, EO VIII n 465

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett says:

    There is a small piece of me that wishes to giggle as I read Eugene’s last words – “I will turn it to my profit […] it will be open to me to choose a place of retirement.” As if Eugene would ‘give up’ just like that and spend the rest of his time using the gifts of the Holy Spirit for his “own personal sanctification”. Empty words – knowing this will never happen. But oh how he expresses his struggles as a human being – perhaps that is one of the things that I love most about Eugene.

    As if he would seriously entertain the thoughts of using the gifts of the Holy Spirit simply for his own sanctification. “I have received the fullness of the priesthood…” that is who he is. Eugene’s statements which arise from his disappointment, his pain of seeming abandonment by the Church; his pain of being separated from his young community and family, and being told to wait and not try to defend himself.

    “…this is for myself and for the whole Church…” He knows who he is in the eyes of God and so he expresses his pain and struggle. Although he writes the words as if he plans on giving up – he does not quit, he doesn’t give up his ‘oblation’ to God and the Church, to his friends and sons. I think of Jesus and his struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial against him and the road that he walked to Calvary, of his seeming powerlessness and death.

    What does this say to me in the light of my own seeming powerlessness and helplessness? Do I feel guilty for entertaining the thoughts of wanting to quit, to run away and hide? Seeing Eugene in this light I receive hope during my own moments of struggle and feelings of weariness.

    I know Eugene’s struggles in those difficult years and I know the full story; yet once again, I see them in a deeper light. This is yet another wonderful gift as I witness his humanity – I carry it with me as I begin a new day.

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