MY BEST AND OLD FRIEND, I EMBRACE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART, IN WHICH IS CONCENTRATED THE LITTLE STRENGTH THAT REMAINS IN ME

Eugene continues the narrative of the last moments of the life of his friend, Charles de Forbin Janson.

I wanted to go to Aygalades to see the bishop; someone came to disturb me. And behold today it has been too late. At the time of departure for going to the side of the good bishop, Abbé Sibour arrived to tell me that he just had an infirmity which had frightened him and that he had believed himself duty-bound to inform me about it. I left immediately, but, in the interval, the bishop had rendered his soul to God. I found him dead. 

… It must be said that the poor bishop took very well what I said to him the day before yesterday and that he truly made the resolution to put order into his affairs, he even very warmly showed me his affection, when I was leaving him, in taking my hand and pressing it over his heart, which comes back to the expression which he used the day before while dictating to Abbé Janse these words which he addressed to me: “My best and old friend, I embrace you with all my heart, in which is concentrated the little strength that remains in me. Your old friend, Charles, bishop of Nancy.”(This was very likely his last signature, which I will keep in memory of our old friendship, which indeed goes back forty years.)

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 11 July 1844, EO XXI

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1 Response to MY BEST AND OLD FRIEND, I EMBRACE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART, IN WHICH IS CONCENTRATED THE LITTLE STRENGTH THAT REMAINS IN ME

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think of the gift that Eugene gave to his dear friend only days before he died, a gift of love which allowed Forbin-Janson to say goodbye to Eugene and to send his love. In his younger years Eugene had a difficult time saying goodbye to his friends when they died and yet here we have Eugene journeying with his friend as he begins to say his goodbyes and leave this earth-bound life.

    Many years ago I had the joy of being with my friend Ida when she found out that she was dying and given less than two weeks to live. She wanted my help in being able to say her goodbyes to her friends, family, and fellow parishioners. The hospital moved her to a private room, and I set about asking those she loved to go to the hospital so that she could tell each person how she loved them. What a beautiful death she had!

    Since that time I have received the gift of journeying with a few friends as they prepared for death. This entailed deep listening, praying-with and mostly “being with” as they moved each in his or her own way closer to the Beloved.

    Eugene’s honest love for his friend allowed Forbin-Janson to say goodbye and allowed another(s) to help him do that. I think of Mary and the disciples standing with Jesus at the foot of the cross as he was dying, of being there as he let go of life to join the Father.

    Tears well up within me for a moment – not for Eugene who would face his own death with love and grace, with his sons. Tears of gratitude for how I have been led in walking with others as they were dying. Today I serve as a member of our parish Funeral Ministry, a ministry that allows us to walk with families when a loved one dies. It is often the last way that we can be with those we have loved.

    Dear Eugene – one more way that you have taught me to love, simply by sharing your great heart with all of us.

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