Ordered to stay away from Marseilles, Eugene confides his anxiety for the Oblates to his friend and confidante, Father Tempier, and the only response possible for him.

My dear Friend, normal life is impossible at this unhappy juncture. My heart and mind are in an emotional state that breeds anxiety  that makes it impossible to rest in peace. Prayer is the only course open to me, any other activity is impossible. Apart from that, my imagination plagues me with unhappy and gloomy thoughts; as a result I sometimes even have nervous spasms. I mean I start involuntarily at the thought of the evil that I fear may befall the people who are dear to me, or of their death. For two days I had no letters from you. It was all that was needed to torture me with the idea that perhaps you were dead.
At the time of the first epidemic, when I was there on the spot, sharing the same dangers, I experienced hardly any anxiety for others any more than myself. It seemed as if we were all invulnerable; now that for my sins I am in a place of safety, the most acute suffering is never absent from me. Even so I really think that the Lord is watching over you, since up to the present not one has been taken ill in the course of the ministry, perilous as it is, that our Fathers have so heroically embraced.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 7 August 1835, EO VIII n 531

This entry was posted in WRITINGS. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    How is it that these two paragraphs written 200 years ago are so timeless? The love of Eugene for so many and his powerlessness to “do” anything except pray is no different than how we are called to be today in this time, in this place.

    In today’s world we seem to be presented with similar situations in our lives. My friend G. whose only way to keep loving a friend who has turned away from life (vs death) is to pray. Our own powerlessness in light of the ongoing mass-shootings in our own corner of the world is to pray. Our own welfare as we wait to hear news from our siblings and parents of their health, their coping and well-being in times of sickness and poor health. I returned from my retreat to hear news that a distant relative who has been sick has requested ‘assisted dying’ from her doctors; my heart, our hearts break as the only option left to us is to continue to love and pray.

    I am reminded of Jesus on the Cross and of those standing with him at the foot of the cross as he died. And even as I think of this I am reminded what Eugene himself wrote to Henri Tempier in that first letter to him.

    Our parish will be getting a new pastor in a few months. For many this will be hard for they have come to love this man who has been so pastoral and loving. And while they know they will come to love their new pastor still they will have to ‘let go’ of a particular way of loving and being with him; just as Eugene has had to let go of his ‘doing’ with Tempier and the rest of the Oblates. Just as did those disciples of Jesus as they let go of him so that he could send them his spirit (Paschal mystery).

    So often we too are called to stand and ‘be’ at the foot of the Cross – it is our only way to love. Prayer is the only course open to me… even so I really think that the Lord is watching over you…” This is what our faith looks like, what our love, trust, hope and being in and with and through with God looks like.

Leave a Reply

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