Letter from my nephew Louis de Boisgelin who informs me of his decision to become a Jesuit. I am not surprised by that resolution, knowing the piety and exemplary life of that young man. I will not oppose his vocation if, as I hope, it is from God. His letter is full of generosity and strength.

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

The decision of Eugene’s eldest nephew caused havoc in the family, especially with Eugene’s mother, who had been vociferously opposed 30 years earlier to her own son’s vocation.  Now she was reacting strongly to her grandson’s decision.

In his journal he reflected:

A letter to my mother. I told her clearly that it is a matter of my nephew’s vocation. There is nothing for her to be troubled. It is a grace that God is offering him, that much the greater since the way that he is called to follow is more perfect, removing him further from the world and leading him closer to God. We ought to thank the Lord for thus perpetuating the priestly order in our family. My great uncle began with the past century; then came his nephew, the Bishop of Marseilles, then myself. It is very consoling that the fourth generation is furnishing its own.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 20 July 1837, EO XVIII

To his mother he wrote:

… So, my dear Mother, act the Christian in this situation as ever; and if nature suffers, may supernatural thoughts strengthen and encourage you to offer with a good heart to the Lord the sacrifice he is asking of you as of us. God in his goodness will keep for you still the consolation of hearing him preach and hearing his Mass….
Goodbye, dear mother. Looking at the bright side, priests are of infinitely more use to their families, both when their parents are still alive and after their death, [ed. to be able to celebrate Masses for them after their death] than are lay people. Let us bless God for everything. Goodbye. Affectionate greetings.

Letter to his mother, 20 July 1837 EO XV n 187

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Do I let that last line go or not? Did Eugene believe in what he wrote to his mother? And does it really matter now? Probably not. Instead I allow my focus to shift.

    Yesterday we Oblate Associates were invited to join the Oblates in celebrating the Anniversary of the Approbation of the Constitutions and Rules and of the Congregation herself. The Oblates renewed their vows and then invited the Associates to renew their commitments. To be invited to celebrate with them, in the style of family – the Mazenodian Family, was pure gift. To be allowed to be “a part of” was a joy. The Oblates celebrated and thanked God for calling them as they have been called and we Associates celebrated and thanked God for calling us as we have been called to live as lay persons. Each and all of us grateful and full of joy to be as we have been created to be.

    I have never been more aware of the immensity of the gift that the Oblates have shared with us – their most precious of gifts – the charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod. A gift not given grudgingly but rather with love and joy.

    Yesterday, in our celebrations and gratitude to God for calling each of us to live in the state and way most suited to each of us, we honoured each other. And perhaps that was what Eugene was urging his mother to do. We always want those we love to know the joy that is ours, even and most particularly when the other chooses a slightly different path through life.

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