Eugene, as founder of the Oblates, considered himself the religious father of each member. Hippolyte Courtès had a special place in Eugene’s life. As an adolescent he had been a member of Eugene’s youth congregation, then he was in the first group of novices to join the Missionaries, and always remained close to Eugene as a valued co-worker and adviser.

In writing to him, Eugene teases him by giving him all the reasons why this letter was not strictly necessary

Perhaps it would be more in keeping with strictly keeping the vow of poverty to deprive myself of the pleasure of writing to you and thus spare you the postal charge for my letter. Besides, I know that you are not deprived of my news, since Father Tempier takes care to give you them and even to pass on to you my letters. But apart from that being a case of insisting a little too much on perfection in that virtue, even had I no other reason to write you than the mutual pleasure of a correspondence that is appropriate,

He then lists the reasons, apart from the great pleasure that it gives him to communicate, why it is important that they have direct communication:

you are superior of the most worthwhile house of our Society,
you have under your direction the hope of the Company [ed. the novices],
you are one of the principal members of the family,
so it is right for me to write you from time to time directly, and I do it without scruple and with all the satisfaction that I always feel in all my relations with you whom it has been my habit and happiness to love since almost from the time you began to exist.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 2 February 1826, EO VII n 222


“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”  Clarence Budington Kelland

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “he lived, and let me watch him do it.” I really like this quote. I went back to Eugene’s writings this morning to read in full the letter to Hippolyte Courtès before returning here to reflect. This one line although written by an American author reflects so much what I receive from daily reflecting on what Eugene has shared of his life in his writings, be it in his diary, or his letters to others.

    I am always a little surprised at how I so often find Eugene speaking to me through his life and experiences two hundred years ago. I am a little surprised at how and where I am led, what I find myself looking at in my own life and heart. I am surprised at my own willingness to share it here in a limited fashion, but to share it. How open is my love and my life? Is it there for all to see? I think that I must ask God for the courage and the grace to love and live as did Eugene.

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