Everything was not always rosy in community life. Father Honorat was the hard-working superior of the Calvaire community in Marseilles and seemed to be going through a rough patch – as a result of which his community suffered, and Eugene had to intervene.

My dear Father Honorat … once and for all I ask you in all seriousness to abate your rage every time someone does not go along with your way of thinking. Those gentlemen of ours who asked you yesterday on my behalf for the theology book that was needed for Father Telmon to prepare his class went away scandalized by your manner of refusal. You paid no regard to the fact that there was a novice amongst them. Today you went after Father Sicard because he asked you in my name for the items he needs. Do you really think that these Fathers are obliged to put up with your bad temper? I assure you that they were far from edified. Father Sicard told me that he was afraid you were going to strike him.
I am appealing to you to exercise more control over yourself. These outbursts do more damage, and harm you more than you think.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 1834, EO VIII n 499

Father Honorat was a good and generous missionary and highly respected by Eugene, thus this reprimand needs to be seen in context, and as a reminder to all of us that we are not always aware of the consequences of some of our rash words, especially if we are tired and overworked.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I ask myself this morning “am I my brother’s keeper?”

    A friend of mine at church seems to have become really angry; displaying outbursts that are scary and that result in my being very uncomfortable when I am around my friend. I ask myself ‘what have I done or said wrong to be on the receiving end of such hatred’? I have found myself standing with those who seem to fire his anger and outbursts – as if to somehow shield them, or at least make them aware that they are not the real cause of his directed treatment. He lashes out at those around him for not being perfect and yet who among us can be perfect?

    It can be difficult to serve in ministry with him and I wonder what is going on in his life that he feels the need to strike out with such vehemence at others? I silently ask that question only because I recognize myself in his anger. There have been times in my life that I have been consumed by pain and anger, at loss of some kind of control within myself and my life; I have struck out at my family and friends as if to somehow protect myself from me. At the time I did not see how I was hurting myself and others. And I did not always have a “Eugene” to speak the truth to me.

    There is a sadness within me that another should be hurting so much, even as I look back on my own behaviour and mourn how I treated others.

  2. Patrick McGee says:

    In today’s world, with deeper understanding and scientific evidence, outbursts in community life are sometimes a symptom of untreated alcoholism. Even today, “with deeper understanding and scientific evidence,” men in community are unwilling or fearful to admit that outbursts of rage might be a sign of serious illness and need professional attention. The world in which Eugene lived did not have the medical and psychological insight we have today. Thus, brothers, we know better and we are more morally responsible to act.

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