I fell from the clouds, my dear Father Martin, on receiving your letter. I was hundreds of miles removed from suspecting your dislike for the position I have placed you in.

Eugene had given Father Martin a change of community to Aix en Provence, and was surprised to receive a response that was not positive about the move. Seemingly Father Martin and Father Courtès had had a misunderstanding when he had previously worked in Aix.

It wasn’t too long ago that you showed feelings to the contrary and, as I remember, I was edified that I even made some comment about it. I therefore had every reason to be certain that what had happened such a long time ago had been entirely forgotten, as in effect it should have been.

As Superior General, Eugene had experience of some of the Oblates having difficulties with one another. His attitude was to urge them all to work for the common good.

Where would we all be if such grudges were perpetual? Soon we would all have to live alone, for the grievances you believe you hold against Father Courtès, others claim to hold against you, and there would be no end to it. Let holy charity consume all our disagreements in the melting-pot of religion.

For my part, I am quite determined not to suppose that we can be otherwise than duty requires. I urge you, for love of God, not to manifest either at Aix or elsewhere, any aversion to what I am obliged to prescribe for you. Peace and the common good depend on it. You have too deep a sense of your state in life not to understand this.

Letter to Fr. Joseph A. Martin, 10 January 1845, EO X n 865

“Peace and the common good” are good pointers for us to remember in times of interpersonal challenges.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Peace and common good. We have seen those qualities lacking in parts of the world today. And of course it is always easier to point the finger at someone else rather than to look at ourselves.

    There will always be imperfections if that is all that we are looking for. And we will hold on to all of those negative elements just because they seem to fill one up so easily.

    But what if we allow ourselves to become transformed – by God – by love? Looking through the eyes of our crucified Saviour. Seeing the wounds of those who come before us as well as their incredible gifts and beauty.

    And isn’t that what our state of life calls us to? Whether we be man or woman, lay or religious. Single or married…

    It is precisely in times of interpersonal challenges that we are called to look with love, with peace and with a sense of the common good.

    Eugene reminds me this morning to allow myself to be human and Christian in the fullest sense of those qualities; imperfect at best and yet willing to let go and learn, to be held, led and carried.

    Peace and the common good. This is what the world needs now. This is what we each need now.

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