Eugene’s role as Superior General was to keep those entrusted to his care focused on the spirit of their vocation in the light of the charism he had received. This involved encouraging those who were struggling to keep focussed.
In this letter he writes to Father Hippolyte Courtès, who was responsible for the community in Aix which was being ill-treated by the local bishop and the ecclesiastical authorities.
My dear Son, I was watching each post for one of your letters so as to write to you. I feel that in the position you find yourself, the least I can do is to offer you some consolation and encouragement if not by my presence at least by my words. Who would have said that after twenty-five years of hard work and devotion we would be reduced to the status of suppliants waiting on the grant of a favour or rather, asking just to be allowed to go on living? This violent situation cannot last for ever, but it means we must adopt the late Fr. Emery’s maxim: prepare for a long haul if you don’t want to go under, everyone has to move on eventually. This maxim that my former teacher constantly acted on is wise: somewhat opposed as it is to my temperament. I do urge you to adopt it, or rather, I congratulate you on following it.
Providence wishes our growth to take place in the midst of tribulations. Hardly do we begin to draw breath on one side than we are fired on from the other side. Let us bide our time…
It is time for the community to stand together in confident hope:
Don’t be anxious. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Contradictions must come. I am confident that they are heralds of some good news. But once again, call your little community together and ask them from me to redouble their prayers, to overcome evil by good, to rejoice to be humiliated a little, to renounce all arrogance, I don’t mean of a personal kind, as I’m sure that such a thing can’t be found amongst you, but as a group, choosing humility rather than glory when God wants to have us go that road. Make no mistake, any other course would be pure illusion.
Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 8 June 1836, EO VIII n 576