AN AMUSING INCIDENT

Eugene’s personal journal gives us insights into his personality and sense of humor that we do not often find in his letters. He describes and incident at Notre Dame de Lumières with the text of the pastoral letter he was going to publish at the time that he would officially take over the Diocese of Marseilles.

… as I wanted to make use of some free time I had for myself in St. Joseph’s [ed. where he had done his retreat], I had the extraordinary idea of speedily composing the pastoral letter for my taking possession of the diocese. So I scrawled seven or eight pages on the subject. As I was being interrupted at every moment, I was not able to finish off this little work. I do not know why, it struck me to put these loose pages into this notebook when I left. Anyway the fact is that they were there when I got here, and I had forgotten all about the matter, when as I went out today with Fathers Tempier and Honorat to survey our mountain these same gentlemen who had gone ahead handed me a page of my script which they had just found on the ground on the high ground overlooking the house. I identify a page of my pastoral. I immediately re-enter the house to see if I might find the rest. To my astonishment I find nothing in the notebook where the pages had been inserted. I am just going to rejoin the Fathers to tell them about my misfortune, when they come up to me with another page in hand that they had spotted in the middle of a field of beans. The thing had its funny side, but I was still short, and in accordance with my bad habit, I only had this wretched draft, and I will not hide the fact that I was extremely annoyed to have to begin again a work that was practically finished, and that would have to be begun all over again as I did not remember anything I had written in my haste. So here we are now searching for the other missing pages. A waste of time, we ranged over a section of the garden without spotting anything, we had reached the point of asking ourselves if our truly flying pages had made shipwreck by trying to cross the river, or if they were flying along the main road to be used as lights for the charcoal burners’ pipes, or if some other still more humiliating fate awaited them, when the gardener’s wife heard us and told us her husband had that morning while digging his garden found underfoot several pieces of paper that he thought belonged to Father Honorat and left in the kitchen. Alas, these poor pages were very close to the flames! After a check, I think everything has been found.
But how explain this airborne rise and miserable fall? It was simply the wind that had blown open the notebook on the desk where I write, which is quite close to the little window… but the pages of the ill-fated pastoral which were loose were the wind’s plaything and it blew them without ceremony out of the window. Once outside, I am somewhat ashamed in my capacity as an author, but it has to be said, they were found so light that they traveled far. It is a bad sign for my poor pastoral that in all probability is not worth much. I am almost tempted to do it again. Anyway what was I doing beginning it so soon? They come out better when they are done the night before… This one will be stale before it gets printed.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 2 June 1837, EO XVIII

The last sentence makes me smile because my collaborator in Oblate Studies always plans everything a long time ahead and finds it frustrating that I work on adrenalin rushes at the last moment. It looks like St Eugene is on my side in this argument!

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One Response to AN AMUSING INCIDENT

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I love the small discoveries of humanness that we are offered here; today it is with the image of Eugene and others traipsing across the countryside looking for pieces of paper that the wind had caught, claimed as her own and then promptly dropped where she willed. Something so important that they had to search for while it seems that Eugene himself had forgotten about it until a lost page was discovered.

    There are small delights when we discover how we are both similar and yet different from our dearest friends who we journey with. I suppose similar to Franks joy as he feels that St. Eugene is on his side of the argument over the side of his collaborator.

    I look at how I am inspired often to fill pages when preparing to speak or share – even in this place here. It seems that often I need to get my own words out and onto the paper, or in most cases the screen. And then as I prepare to share them I find myself rewriting much – not correcting so much but changing. Perhaps that is how I work; I like to think that maybe I write my words in order to make space for me to hear the words that God would have me share.

    I sometimes think that God is ‘laughing’ with us – not at us but with us – the laughter of delight. This would be one of those times.

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