Frustrated in Rome with the slow progress in resolving the situation with the French government, Eugene chides Father Tempier for having waited six weeks before responding to an unjust condemnatory letter sent to the diocese of Marseilles by the antagonistic Minister of Worship of France.

It is inconceivable that you should have handled it as you have. You have dragged your feet in the matter and I am faced with an inexplicable lack of energy. One would think you were struck dumb or blind.
… the Bishop of Marseilles cannot forgo issuing a condemnation of the Minister of Worship’s outrageous letter. If you were at a loss to know how to reply to that letter, you ought to have turned to somebody who has some mettle, you ought to have written to Paris, have gone there if need be, rather than let seven weeks go by without replying to such a letter as the Minister’s. The blow struck at his episcopal jurisdiction demanded a protest…  That the first day should find you dumbfounded at the effrontery of the blow delivered I can understand, but that with reflection you were not moved to any action, surpasses my capacity to understand.

Having vented his frustration, he strikes a conciliatory tone by looking at the situation through the eyes of his faith on God’s providence and refocusing in prayer:

Moreover, all my observations are made without bitterness. I have made them because I owe you the truth; but above all I must acknowledge God’s will to which I submit myself heart and soul. I do not love you any the less for what is more mistake than neglect of my affairs, you wouldn’t he capable of that. You were lacking in discernment, but rest assured that my distress will lessen the moment I put myself in God’s presence.
I send my affectionate greetings to all and assure you of my accustomed esteem and friendship.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 5 November 1833, EO VIII n 473

This entry was posted in WRITINGS. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I struggle with Eugene and his words this morning, with his treatment of Tempier, with his temper and pain of being unable to speak out or act as he would wish. I can only imagine what it was like for Henri Tempier to read this letter. It is hard to read this; recognizing and accepting the humanness of those we love and look-up to. There is no place to run and hide from any of this and I can only think of how both Eugene and Henri Tempier had to ‘stand’ in the midst of this – reminding me for a brief moment of my Beloved and the constancy of his immense love as he is faced with this over and over – even as he holds us in a tender embrace.

    Jesus the Saviour – Eugene’s model for life. Jesus who stood silent in the face of the accusations against him – in the Garden, before Pilate, before the crowds who cried “Crucify him”, before the other two on the crosses at Golgotha, before all of life. We do not know of the thoughts and fears, the pain running through Jesus – only that he ‘stood’ in the midst of it.

    I was not immediately pleased with the choice of this letter from Eugene as the start to my day – to look at myself and others around me; to look at those who have stood and received my tirades with love and forgiveness – and the times that I have chosen or accepted to stand and face rants directed at me with love and forgiveness.

    A moment of small delight within the darkness as I am reminded of this small prayer from Eugene that has crept into my own daily experience and that I share:

    “Eternal Father, forgive my misuse of the life you have given me with so much loving kindness and preserved with so much mercy.
    Son of God, I ask your pardon for having derived so little benefit from the example of your life, the precepts of your Gospel and the grace of your sacraments.
    Holy Spirit of God, forgive me my neglect of your light and inspirations, and the remorse you awaken in my conscience.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *