The message that Eugene and the Oblates always preached was that of God’s mercy and the possibility of a wrongdoer to convert and start again on a better path. Eugene lived this approach in his personal life too, and not only in the pulpit or confessional. Fr. Tempier had obviously complained about one of the servants in the house and wanted Eugene to fire him.
How can you ask me to intervene actively in a matter in which I would already derive intense suffering in a merely passive role. I have never voluntarily inflicted pain on anyone, even those who have done me the greatest injury, how could I cast someone into despair who is sincerely attached to me and has been manservant both to me and to my uncle?
Certainly he has caused me a lot of trouble, it has to be acknowledged, because of his very difficult character rather than from a sustained malice. I know that he has let everyone down in a very uncivil manner, as he has myself, and that is what hurts me most; but it is because of his character, it is a lack of formation and often through being over-attentive. I am saying this, not to excuse him: who is more critical than I am of his behaviour? Who feels more sharply the repercussions?
But I do it so that the cause of his wrongdoing will be understood and to raise the hope that he won’t repeat them again, for a month has passed now in which he has given satisfaction, I know that he’ll be unhappy to leave my household. How can I bring myself to plunge him into this unhappiness? To make someone who loves me unhappy, when I can’t bear the idea of those who mean nothing to me suffering! I can’t do it.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 9 October 1835, EO VIII n 548
The preacher of mercy put his preaching into practice in his personal life – can I apply these words to my life and relationships?