AT PRESENT, I CANNOT DO ANYTHING ELSE BUT WORK

After a pause to reflect on and celebrate the 150 years of the death of Saint Eugene, our daily reflections on his writings resume.

We are in the year 1816 and we have reflected on the foundation of the Missionaries and their establishment as a community of mission preachers in the Provencal speaking villages and a developing permanent mission through their presence in the town of Aix en Provence. At the centre of it all was the person, the ideals and the energy of Eugene. In those first months he gave of himself with enthusiasm and energy as he describes to his father:

At present, I cannot do anything else but work, and it is quite contrary to my taste. But since God in his goodness requires it, I must conform. I begin usually at 5:00 a.m. and finish at 10:00 p.m., sometimes 11.00. I am lucky if I have time to say my office properly! It cannot be otherwise; after all, what does it matter? Provided that God is glorified and good gets done, that is all we can desire. That is the only reason we are here. What happiness to serve a master who takes everything into account for you. What folly to yearn for anything other than pleasing him!

Letter to Charles Antoine de Mazenod, 8 July 1816, O.W. XV n. 137

As he forced himself to maintain his schedule, those close to him outside of the community began to suffer. In this letter to his long-time friend Forbin-Janson he speaks about putting work commitments before personal affairs, and consequently his personal relationships suffer:

I am so far from wanting to make excuses, my dear friend, that I am writing you on my knees, as I have a real sense of having given you offence. If I could have answered you immediately after I received your good, kind, touching letter of June 22, I would have written absolutely in the same vein…
Have no fear anyway that your latest reproaches have struck home. I knew beforehand that I deserved them, and not a day passed without my making them against myself more than once. But what appears most shocking in my behaviour, is precisely the best argument I have on my side.
If I was dealing with the person furthest from my heart, someone of no consequence, I would have hastened to answer so as not to appear lazy, etc. In your case, I did not bother. The same reasons that have got in the way of my writing you still standing, I did not feel obliged to bustle about to come in the end to what I always wanted to do and never did. I played, for the same reason, the same game with my father who was up in arms on his side.
The upshot of it all is that I cannot get through all my work. The burden is so heavy that it frightens me sometimes for fear that it may totally overwhelm me. I did not write, because I put it off to the time I thought was coming when I would have an hour to myself, to do as I pleased with; and that moment never came. Today, I have taken my precautions. Even so, in the space of this wretched page I have just written, I have had to attend to several people and write three letters…

Letter to Forbin Janson, July-August 1816, O.W. XV n 138 and VI n 13

 

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