Eugene continues to marvel at the courage of the Oblates in the face of danger, and of God’s miraculous protection.

But the truth is my words are inadequate to express what they are doing. After reaching exhaustion at the hospital, they come back quite late in the night-time to take a little rest, someone arrives to tear them away from it to bring the help of their ministry to the sick in the city. They have themselves followed, both in Aix and Marseilles, by deacons who, to give them more time to hear confessions, bring holy viaticum and do the burials. The one at Aix  baptizes all the hospital children; they are continuously on their feet, while, if truth be told, there are curates and even pastors who, sick with fear, do not venture outside their houses; keep that to yourself; if it is to be known outside the city, which is disgusted by it, I would sooner it were through somebody else than ourselves.
And so it seems that God in his goodness watches over our men’s safety. It can be said that the house at Aix has been besieged and even invaded by death. Not only those who are divided from the missionaries by no more than the party wall, and who therefore lived under the same roof, have perished, but the wing of the house that we weren’t able to get possession of and which gives onto the courtyard was full of the dead who could be seen in their coffins from our windows and balcony. So the infection was right inside our house, what a hold it could have been expected to get on a family of twenty-two people all huddled together, what odds could be expected that they would not be decimated? But the Lord’s angel was watching over these devoted men and their brothers whose shield they wore. For three days I have not ceased blessing and thanking the Lord for it, for truly in my eyes this borders on the miraculous. But even while giving thanks for God’s help towards our Fathers, and the good fortune they have had to sacrifice themselves for their brothers, I cannot help being sorry for myself or rather, with more justice, cannot help recognizing that the Lord has punished me for my infidelities, in sending me to exercise a ministry elsewhere which deprived me of the happiness of sharing in their merits and participating in their glory. If I had been on the spot, nothing could have stopped me sacrificing myself at the head of the others. Far from the scene of the evil, I have been caged-up; but I am sick with annoyance in consequence.

Letter to Bruno Guigues, 1 August 1835, EO VIII n 529

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “But the truth is my words are inadequate to express what they are doing” and “so it seems that God in his goodness watches over our men’s safety”.

    As has happened this past week, my thoughts turn to those who have been taking part in the same retreat as I, and the sharing of our hearts with each other. Truly no words can adequately express the profound beauty of their hearts, the depth of wisdom and lived knowledge that they bring to our circle each day. I see how God calls them to be missionaries in their own communities and the love they bring to and receive from their communities and more. I do not have to stretch far to see in their leadership how God guides them and watches over them. And the joy of shared connections between us for some hold different members of the Mazenodian Family in their hearts. And that too is yet another gift to embrace and hold tenderly in my ever widening heart.

    Looking out from this new community which captures and invites my heart to take its place, I am able to reflect on our own leadership, in our houses and in our Provinces, our regions and with our Superior General. It is so easy to see how our Great Spirit, our Creator watches over us and guards our safety in and with and through our leaders, and all who walk with us.

    Looking at this beautiful letter from Eugene to Bruno Guigues I give thanks. I think of Fr. Albert Lacombe OMI who fell so deeply in love with the peoples who God sent him to minister to and with.

    And so this morning I see so very clearly how God in his goodness watches over us, watches over me and so I give thanks. Miigwetch.[Ojibwe word that means “thank you”.]

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