Eugene remained in Rome for four months. Yvon Beaudoin continues the narrative of the conflict between the French authorities and Bishop de Mazenod:

“A short time after his return to Marseilles, in December 1833, the Bishop of Icosia decides to defend himself before the courts. The matter is going ahead rapidly when, at the beginning of January 1834, Cardinal Bernetti is instrumental in having an unofficial letter written from Rome in which he invites the Bishop not to go ahead with the court case and to live as far as possible in retirement, in accordance with the express wish of the Government. “The line of conduct called for here,” says the Roman correspondent, “is quite unconnected with the personal opinion held of you. You are esteemed as a bishop who has every quality that is needed to make the Church loved in time of peace and feared when there is war, in both cases conferring honour on the Church, even to the point of martyrdom; but you are not considered to be sufficiently flexible and easy to deal with when it is a question neither of peace nor of war.”

Yvon Beaudoin EO 8 pages XXV-XXVI

In consequence Bishop de Mazenod renounced his legal action and responded to Rome:

Since the Sovereign Pontiff is pained by the idea of this process in the courts, I renounce obtaining justice by this means. You are at liberty to say what I have decided in this respect, and that I place everything in the hands of the Holy Father.

Letter to Baron D Papassian in Rome, 14 May 1834, EO XV n 173

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Reading Yvon Beaudoin’s it is not hard to imagine how Eugene might well have been devastated in receiving Bernetti’s letter. There is a small place within my heart that struggles greatly as Eugene is “invited” not pursue the court case. Who among us might not be tempted to simply ‘shut down our hearts’ and walk away at such a sentence being leveled at us?

    “…to live as far as possible in retirement…” – it sounds like a death sentence. Perhaps if Eugene had been more like a smoldering wick it might have seemed possible – but his flame had never been that weak. It is not hard to imagine the torment of his heart – he was so perfectly human and he could have ‘reacted’ in so many different ways.

    I find myself looking at the vows which Eugene made: Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Perseverance. Total oblation of self to God, in service to the Church, his brothers and the many poor. I think of Jesus before the courts of his time. He too stood silent.

    “…but you are not considered to be sufficiently flexible and easy to deal with when it is a question neither of peace nor of war.” It takes immense trust and humility to say “Your will be done” and to walk through this type of fire. It is not with false servility or with ‘rolling over and giving up on life’ that Eugene would survive and come through this fire of life.

    What might this look like in the ordinary of our lives – here in this time and place? With our bosses – supervisors? With family members – superiors? It would seem that in life there can always be some kind of betrayal and abandonment. How do we handle them? How do I handle them? I find myself inclined to be like Eugene and to want to get up and fight for myself. Sometimes it takes more courage and strength to obey as Eugene did.

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