TO ADORE GOD AND HIS WAYS EVEN WHEN I FIND THEM VERY HARD

Eugene had been staying in Nice, in the hope of being granted permission to open Oblate missions in the Kingdom of Sardinia. The negative answer eventually came, and he now prepared to return to Marseilles.

... The plans I spoke to you about in my last letter have met shipwreck: heavy storm clouds cover the heavens. So there is no point in my prolonging my stay where nothing further remains for me to do. It is a pity, an immense apostolate is closed to us. They are turning down a providential offer of assistance: God knows how greatly they stand in need of our ministry! The fault will not be laid at our door.
I have done everything that depended on me, nothing remains but to lament how hard it is to do good in circumstances where so many succeed in doing evil and to adore God and his ways even when I find them very hard. It is the disposition I have tried to adopt in the latest misfortune which has befallen us, for I have felt very deeply the loss of our dear Father Capmas.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 24 January 1831, EO VIII n 383

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

HIS NOBLE CONVICTIONS EVOKE MY ADMIRATION

Jean Baptiste Honorat had been superior of the house in Nimes, but the events after the 1830 Revolution had forced te closure of the house and the departure of the community. The governnet was not allowing the preaching of parish missions, thus Fr Honorat proposed a different ministry not connected with parish missions.

I have had a letter from Honorat, as I expected, but I do not mean to write in reply as I think you are in correspondence with him. Please convey to him my opinion on the matter he asked me about. Full of zeal for the salvation of souls, he would like to preach to the poor, from place to place, convinced that his ministry would not be unfruitful, seeking nothing but the glory of God, and not wanting any wages other than his daily bread.
His noble convictions evoke my admiration although they do not surprise me; this holy priest is fully equal to all the demands of his state of life and is capable of exceptional zeal.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 20 January 1831, EO VIII n 382

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

I ADORE HIM AS HE SIGHS AND WEEPS OUTSIDE LAZARUS’S TOMB

It had been a difficult period for Eugene, and now an Oblate he loved and admired, Fr. Capmas, dying a painful death. Eugene reveals his grief and criticizs those who pretend not to have the need to express their grief:

At the same time I certainly do not boast to being insensitive to the blows that seem at times about to crush us…
I would not want that kind of perfection if it were offered me. I will even go further and say that I am in a way scandalized to see it lauded in some biographies and attributed (no doubt without foundation) to men who are thus, at the expense of truth, dehumanized and calumniated, in my opinion, in a cruel way.
Jesus Christ is our only model and he did not set us an example of that kind. I adore Him as he sighs and weeps outside Lazarus’s tomb and I despise and abhor displays of stoicism, insensitivity and egoism from people who seem to want to outdo this prototype of every perfection, who so wanted to sanctify every aspect of our sad pilgrimage.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 11 January 1831, EO VII n 380

This is one of the sayings of Eugene that has impacted me and made him such a model for me. As Jesus wept, so did Eugene, and so can we, because “Jesus Christ is our only model.”

 

 

 

 

So I tremble as I wait for the news you will give me on Thursday. My thoughts are all, on this occasion, for the common welfare of the family, more than of any personal consideration or affection. I prepare myself for whatever may happen with prayer and complete abandonment to the will of Him who is Master of our destinies and for whom we have been placed on this earth.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 11 January 1831, EO VII n 380

 

Here now is something else to add to your worries, my dear friend. If God in his goodness takes this poor sick man to Himself, you are going to find yourself in an embarrassing situation, and all because some in their wisdom would say that it is a useless precaution in time of health to make a will. I have nothing to reproach myself with on the score of not giving advice when it was needed. While passing through N.D. du Laus I had advised him to gather together the money he used to leave scattered about with unbelievable carelessness. He told me on that occasion that it was his intention to leave some of it to our family. I think it my duty to inform you of the intention he confided to me. Take steps to see that his papers are not destroyed. I make no bones about claiming ownership of them. I mean his sermons, instructions etc. Don’t let anyone at all touch them, and if someone has already been indiscreet, make sure you get everything back into your possession. Lazy or incompetent people are quite capable of decking themselves in borrowed plumes. Please God, all these precautions will prove unnecessary.

 

My patience has reached its limits over my enforced inaction; if by tomorrow or Saturday the 15th at the latest I have received no letters, I will do my best to come to an understanding with the Vicar General[1] and leave.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 11 January 1831, EO VII n 380

 

[1] Allusion to the expectation of letters from Father Grassi concerning a foundation in Sardinia. The latter wrote on the 10th, but still without being able to give a definite answer (REY. I. 502).

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

PRAY TO GOD FOR ME, FOR THE GRACE TO ACCEPT THE DESIGNS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE WITH PERFECT RESIGNATION

My worst fears have been realized. It is with sorrow that I inform you that the Lord has called our dear Father Capmas to himself … after a long and painful agony. I am told that although unable to make himself understood because of the extreme weakness to which he was reduced, even so he entered with deep piety into the spirit of the prayers made with him… Pray to God for me, for the grace to accept the designs of divine providence with perfect resignation. “God has given, God has taken away”[ed. Job 1, 21] and it is our duty to add: “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 10 January 1831, EO VIII n 379

To his confidant, Heri Tempier, he shared his suffering in accepting God’s will:

One must confess that sickness and death are finding their mark amongst us in an uncanny way: men less submissive to God’s will than ourselves would be dismayed. The thought does not discourage me – I think that this is because I am sufficiently used to bending myself to the impenetrable designs of divine Providence. At the same time I certainly do not boast to being insensitive to the blows that seem at times about to crush us.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 11 January 1831, EO VII n 380

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

BUT HE IS THE MASTER OF ALL AND OF EVERYONE!

God in his goodness wishes us to tread the path of trials and tribulations: let us accept everything from his hands.
We need to be fully rooted in these great principles, for at this very moment a great misfortune threatens us.

The “great misfortune” was the final illness of Father Joseph Capmas, of whom Yvon Beaudoin writes: “Father Capmas had entered the novitiate at 39 years of age. He had been novice master for some months, then missionary in the Upper Alps and finally chaplain to the soldiers ill in the isolation hospital (the “Lazaret”) at Marseilles.”

Perhaps at this very moment our dear Father Capmas has breathed his last. I have just today received a letter informing me that he is very near the end. However, just as the post was leaving he began to recover consciousness but this slight improvement does not give me much hope. You can imagine my anxiety. For three days I won’t receive any further news! It is a truly mortifying situation: I feel it deep down in the depths of my being. You know the man and understand like myself what a loss he will be to the Congregation if the Lord takes him from us. But he is the Master of all and of everyone!

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 10 January 1831, EO VIII n 379

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

IN TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS LET US ACCEPT EVERYTHING FROM GOD’S HANDS

… Father Grassi has written to me again and to the same effect. (Ed: Allusion to Father Grassi of Turin with whom the Founder was corresponding with a view to a foundation in Sardinia )
Let us compose ourselves in patience and a spirit of resignation to wait on the Lord. But we must never give up praying earnestly to be worthy of carrying out his holy will. God in his goodness wishes us to tread the path of trials and tribulations: let us accept everything from his hands.
We need to be fully rooted in these great principles, for at this very moment a great misfortune threatens us.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 10 January 1831, EO VIII n 379

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

I SIMPLY CANNOT ACCEPT THAT ANYONE SHOULD SETTLE FOR BEING LESS THAN ADEQUATE IN HIS CALLING

Eugene expected everyone who lived according to his God-given Oblate spirit to live a life of Gospel-inspired regularity. It upset him when he came across mediocrity in living this ideal.

By regularity I mean fidelity in shaping one’s life according to the spirit and the letter of the Rule. The Rule obliges us to work very seriously at becoming more perfect…
I fret with impatience at being hindered from bringing this home personally to all who do not understand it and who imagine that they have done their duty while still remaining far from their goal.
Enough on this point which pains me too much! I simply cannot accept that anyone should settle for being less than adequate in his calling.

Then Eugene sees that the way to achieve this regularity is by giving oneself totally to the Ideal in obedience, humility and detachment.

The root of the matter is the acceptance of obedience and absolute detachment as to whether one does this or that, whether this one or that one is the superior. Without that, you haven’t got anything

Letter to Hippolyte Courtes, 10 January 1831, EO VIII n 378

What is the Ideal of my life, and how do I live Gospel regularity?

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

BY REGULARITY I MEAN FIDELITY IN SHAPING ONE’S LIFE ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT AND THE LETTER OF THE RULE

Eugene continued to be full of the joys of the time he had spent in Switzerland with the community of Oblate students and their youthful enthusasm for religious life and community.

I would not have left Billens. It is a real heaven on earth.

He compared their idealism with that od some of the older Oblates in France who should have been even more exemplary to the young ones:

The virtues and innocence manifested in the life of all who live there would have been the joy of my life and have made up for the lower standards and lack of regularity of so many others who ought to be the ones giving them a good example.

Then Eugene gave an important definition of a concept he constantly used when he described the Oblate lifestyle: regularity:

By regularity I mean fidelity in shaping one’s life according to the spirit and the letter of the Rule. The Rule obliges us to work very seriously at becoming more perfect men of the Church – much more so than others.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtes, 10 January 1831, EO VIII n 378

The Rule is our way of living the Gospel and regularity (from the Latin word for Rule, which is “regula”) means living every aspect of our lives according to these Gospel values. “Regularity” – a good virtue for all of us to work towards.

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

I THINK IT IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF IGNORANCE WHEN ONE THINKS ONE KNOWS WHAT ONE IS IN FACT IGNORANT OF

Eugene’s two reflections on studies, to the young scholastics, were an echo of his own attitude to studies when he had been a seminarian 20 years before:

If I want to be of some use in the ministry, I still have a lot of studying to do, and it is quite clear that I could not undertake anything in my present state and keep a perfectly clear conscience.
I am well aware that there are priests who are less prepared than myself perhaps and who nevertheless press on, but it is a very great evil. And I think it is the highest form of ignorance when one thinks one knows what one is in fact ignorant of or knows only in a sketchy way.

Letter to his mother, 14 October 1811, EO XIV n 93

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

THE OBLATE APPROACH TO STUDIES

Eugene, in writing to Fr. Mille and the scholastics in Switzerland, stressed that all study needs to bring the student to an encounter with God.

But never forget that it is for God you are working, that the glory of his holy name is at stake. That the Church expects this service from you.
It means you must supernaturalise your studies, sanctify them by the integrity of your intention, leaving all self-love aside, not seeking yourself in anything; in this way, profane authors have the same capacity to lift your thoughts to God as do the Fathers of the Church.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 3 January 1831, EO VIII n 377

Posted in WRITINGS | 2 Comments