Softening his attitude for the sake of his 87-year-old uncle, Eugene was prepared to make the oath of fidelity to the King, but on condition that he can stay in Marseilles as suffragan bishop to Fortuné, but not accept to be a bishop responsible for a diocese.

So once again it is my justifiable conclusion that nothing else is required of me but to remain in my present state, recognized as such by the Government, to which I don’t refuse to take the oath, if it asks for it, as suffragan or vicar general of my uncle, since I have always had it as one of my principles, although it didn’t want to believe it, that the ministers of the Church are established for the spiritual order only, that they must submit to what God permits, maintain peace by the influence of their holy ministry, avoid letting themselves be the instruments of any party whatsoever, be they legitimists or republicans, as that would be to compromise the Church, the defence of whose interests is their principal duty.

Eugene was prepared to take these steps only out of dedication for his uncle, on whom the diocese was weighing heavily

My determination in this position will make its impression, I think, on you and my uncle. My reasoning is based on principle, consistent always with the just affection I owe him and that I have pledged to him with all my heart. And why, after letting my conscience and head have their say, should I not let my heart speak too?

His heart tells him that if he were to accept a diocese in another part of France, the separation from his loved ones would be too heavy.

Yes, anything that would separate me from so venerable and dear an uncle, from you and a very small number of others, would be of all exiles the least bearable, practically a death sentence. Who will say that I am obliged to make so many sacrifices?

Letter to Henri Tempier, 25 August 1835, EO VIII n 537

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Small steps; Eugene is moving forward with very small steps.

    “Who will say that I am obliged to make so many sacrifices?” Although Eugene is speaking the truth, I am reminded of how his letters to his mother read when he wanted to become a priest and even after his ordination. She who loved him, as he went off to follow Jesus who was calling him.

    “…the just affection I owe him and that I have pledged to him with all my heart.” He is speaking of his uncle as he writes this, but it reminds me of his relationship with God – is that not how he loves God?

    None of us is ever ‘obliged’ to make such sacrifices – but we do – out of love, out of being unable to deny what our hearts truly desire, what our entire being holds sacred and true. At some point in our lives – whether we are young or not so young God invites us, calls us – sometimes relentlessly – to say yes and to walk through the fears, to face our hidden wounds and allow them to become reopened, raw and vulnerable, naked – just as they were and are with Jesus on the Cross. Co-operators of the Saviour.

    The cross cannot be separated from this way of being any more than it can become separated from the resurrection. I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King Jr who said: “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last!”

    I love this side of Eugene, who is unapologetic for being human without pretense. This is how I react when I faced with certain things in my own life – the bringing up of wounds long hidden, safely armoured in the darkest corners of my being. They fight to remain where they are, colouring my sight and heart with their darkness even as I slowly allow the light to unmask them.

    I need to remember this when I am with others who are struggling and fighting for their lives too.

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