Having left Switzerland, Eugene was now in Nice with his uncle, Bishop Fortuné. He was able to appraise the tension and dangers to the Church from the new government.

The civil authorities tried on every possible occasion to create difficulties for the diocese of Marseilles. Fr. Tempier, who was keeping things going as Vicar General had written to the newspaper about the dispute following an incident provoked by young people during a service in the church of St Theodore.

I would have wished that some expressions be removed from your letters and especially that you had not thought of printing your claim in a newspaper… I think that in the circumstances one must be strong but measured in one’s terms.

In Paris, the Minister of Worship, had published a letter ordering that there be no gatherings in churches except on Sundays and on four religious holidays retained by the Concordat of 1801. Eugene advised Henri Tempier to respond:

It is this tone that is moderate, but firm, that I advise you to take in the reply that you will make to the inconceivable and truly ridiculous letter of Monsieur Merilhou. I think one must keep the heaviest words for the last extremity. I admit nevertheless that there is reason to lose patience…. A little word on freedom could be inserted appropriately. We cannot hide from the fact that the persecution is beginning. Write to us immediately after Christmas; I fear some scandal on that holy night and they will not ask for better than to make you responsible for it.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 24 December 1830, EO VII n 375

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It was surely worse than a mere sense of déja-vu for Eugene during this time with new edicts and restrictions being sent out by petty government officials. But this time it must have seemed to be worse for it affected Eugene’s beloved Church, his young family of Oblates, his family (Bishop Fortuné), and his other self – his beloved friend Henri Tempier and all that Eugene and his Oblates were trying to serve, their ‘flock’ as it was. And Eugene who was so politically astute, knew very well what could happen. S0 he instructed Henri Tempier to not hide from the fact of what was happening, but rather how to stand firm in his beliefs without deliberately antagonizing the officials any more than was necessary. Not the ‘what’ but the ‘how’.

    It seems to me that what Eugene was saying to Henri Tempier can apply equally well as to how I handle some struggles, injustices and events closer to home, big or small. I cannot just turn my back and walk away from them anymore than I can go on attack against whatever or whoever seems to be the cause. I must first decide if I am going to face whatever it is or run away from it; and then if I am going to react or respond (the ‘how’ of it). We don’t have to pretend and hide from something that is happening, I think that we are called to face whatever it is and find a way to live with it. It’s all about the “how” we do that, and this is what Eugene seemed to be to Tempier.

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