THEY REFRESHED MY SPIRIT

In 1813 Eugene had started a congregation of youth in Aix that had had much success. Twenty five years later he was delighted to receive a letter from two former members: Fr Leblanc (who was now a diocesan priest in Paris) who had recently met Adrien Chappuis (who was now an advocate in Paris) and had “chatted a lot about our father and common benefactor. Believe us that the memories of our past relations are so precious after so many years that they are still alive in our hearts.”

The three-page letter is full of fine feelings. “You are today,” this dear child tells me, “what you have been at all times in your ministry, as I observed you when I had the happiness of always being around you, who knew so well how to reconcile the kindness of charity with attention to duty.”

This recognition is very dear to me. It comes from a good priest whom I esteem to the extent that I have always loved him and that goes back to the first years of my ministry when this good Leblanc was among the most fervent disciples of my beautiful congregation of Christian youth, of which he was one of the first members,

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 18 February 1838, EO XIX

Eugene echoes sentiments of Paul’s last lines in his First letter to the Corinthians 16:15-18), when he refers to people who have served in the community :

“they have devoted themselves to the service of the holy ones—be subordinate to such people and to everyone who works and toils with them. 

 I rejoice in the arrival of … because they made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. So give recognition to such people.”

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One Response to THEY REFRESHED MY SPIRIT

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Imagine what it is like to be a teacher and to meet up with one or some of your students after a long period of time’ to hear how they are doing, and to realise the part that your love had played in their life; to realise and see the fruits of the love you had so readily shared with them.

    “They refreshed my spirit.”

    It was Father’s Day this past weekend and I can only imagine the joy and satisfaction that fathers and grandfathers realised as their own sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters shared with them the fruits of all of that love and how they were now seeing it shared and passed on in generations.

    “They refreshed my spirit.”

    I think for a moment when Jesus healed the 10 Lepers – that was huge – really huge. But only one came back to thank him, to ensure that Jesus knew what he had done for the leper. Jesus wasn’t in it for the thanks, any more than Eugene was; still his spirits must have been lifted to realise what his love had brought about in the one who returned.

    This is much more than ‘imitation’ of another’s life; it is fuller, more encompassing. It is inside as well as outside.

    How do I give thanks and then respond with my own life to that which has been given and shared with me? Do I expect it, do I take that love for granted? Perhaps one of the ways that I can give thanks is to model my own life on the life of those who have been models for me. Jesus – Jesus comes to mind and so does Eugene for he was a model to so many who have become models to me.

    Thank you Frank for how you are a model to me, to so many of us who come here each day. Our spirits are refreshed just as yours must also be.

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