THE LEAST I CAN DO IS TO OFFER YOU SOME CONSOLATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT IF NOT BY MY PRESENCE AT LEAST BY MY WORDS

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

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One Response to THE LEAST I CAN DO IS TO OFFER YOU SOME CONSOLATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT IF NOT BY MY PRESENCE AT LEAST BY MY WORDS

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think of many of the Old Testament writings; the journey to the ‘Promised Land’ which began with Adam and Eve and how through the generations God would send them a leader, to console and encourage them to remain faithful on their journey. It was communal and both personal as they passed through exile on the journey to find their homelands.

    I remember how on the Feast of the Assumption Eugene remained in the chapel as the others joined in a procession into the streets of Aix – Eugene’s experience of Mary Immaculate seeming to tell him he was right where he was supposed to be.

    I think back to the 2015 Convocation as we acknowledged and discussed issues of ongoing diminishment, changes to some of our structures and where we wanted to go from that point; and how thanks to the gifts of technology (Skype) Fr. Louis Lougen talked with us, acknowledging our joys and our sorrows, and reminding us that we were right where we were supposed to be. His words touching us on both personal and community levels.

    I look at how Eugene’s words touch me this morning; his letters may well have been written to others, his words spoken to others and yet these are shared with each and all of us who find a place in the Mazenodian Family. We each of us come together on our journeys and are right where we are supposed to be.

    Just like the peoples in the Old Testament, and the founding community, we come together and it is as community that we ‘stand together in confident hope.’

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