In 1832 Eugene had been appointed Titular Bishop of Icosia, without a connection to an actual diocese. Now, in order for his episcopal status to be recognized by the government, he was expected to be linked to an actual diocese in France.

In his letter dated August 17 to Father Tempier, Father Guibert said that he had made the proposal to the Minister that the government name the Bishop of Icosia coadjutor to his uncle or even to the first vacant diocese; this would oblige him to take the oath and to prove to the Government and to the King that he was not hostile to them. (cf REY, I. 645)

Eugene’s response was a categorical refusal.

My dear friend, what have you done? What is this abyss you wish to hurl me into? I have reached harbour, and do you want to expose my frail craft once again to tempest and reef, which it would be impossible for me to avoid? No, no, no! I’ve learnt by experience. I am not up to achieving any good in that elevated position in this day and age…
One would almost say that Providence made a mistake over the century in having me born in this one, with the dispositions and, if you like, the qualities that were needed to do great things two hundred years ago. I’m unable to compromise with error, lies and impiety. I’m a man of dedication; but the frankness of my character and my uprightness in all that I undertake hinder me from clouding the issue, as you have to do to succeed when one has to deal with people who don’t have a sincere desire for what is good, and apply themselves to it only because it’s politically correct.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 23 August 1835, EO VIII n 536

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think of the early Christians who practiced a ‘way’ that was different from the Roman and the Jewish practices and norms of their day; and who were known by their ways of loving and the way they modeled and practiced that love.

    Eugene himself would have to adapt in a particular way so that he too could follow the model of Jesus and the Apostles; to adapt and find a way to live under the laws of his place and time. Those first early Oblates who came to Canada (or went to South Africa or to Ceylon) had to find ways to adapt to a new country and language and ways of surviving in a very different climate.

    And moving forward I think of the many who are members of the Mazenodian Family and who live in countries where it is forbidden to speak of God in the workplace and places where we live and work; where we are called by God to ‘be’ in such a way that we are available and models to all those we meet. Where we make it possible for all we meet to walk with us as we walk with them.

    I am reminded how many of us who are not professed Oblates adapt and find ways to live many of the Oblate Constitutions and Rules, sharing the charism and spirit that is expressed in that Rule of Life. I think of the invitation we have received to spend time together in Oraison two weeks from now; throughout the world every member of the Mazenodian Family coming together in silent prayer which Eugene de Mazenod himself modeled for us. So we find time in a 24 hour period where we will sit in silent prayer with all the members of our family – in our homes, chapels, churches or even in the midst of nature; we adapt and find a way to make it work without lessening its essential way of being.

    Dear Eugene – look at what the Spirit began in you and which you continue to share with us today.

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