Father Mille was 33 years old, had been ordained a priest for only fifteen months and he was the superior of the Oblate scholasticate in Switzerland. He was young and inexperienced, but the political crisis in France had forced Eugene to appoint him to this responsibility. He was finding the burden heavy, and Eugene wrote to encourage him:

So if you renounce yourself entirely, together with your tastes and even the reasoning your mind may entertain, you will give a good account of yourself in the delicate task imposed on you. I am not trying to minimize your own estimate of the burden that weighs you down.
On the contrary, I agree that it could not weigh more heavily on your shoulders, but by living in close union with God, pondering frequently on the importance of your tasks and studying how men who have achieved success in this field have acted, you will achieve the same results.

Stay close to the God who has called you, reflect on the importance of what has been entrusted to you, and learn from others who have had more experience in this field. Good advice to all of us when we find the burdens of service heavy.

But you must apply yourself to your task and tell yourself again and again that God, Church and religious family will be demanding an account villicationis tuae [ed. “Give an account of your management” Luke 16:2]
 Go ahead finally with full confidence and quietly correct in the light of experience the small mistakes that come to light as you go on your way.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 25 September 1831, EO VIII n 404

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I seem always to want to shy away from the idea of any kind of accounting or measuring for I will most surely come up short.

    And yet when called I seem powerless to say no. I hesitate ,I doubt, I question – not so much to be persuaded, but because I fear that I might not be able to do what I have been entrusted to do. That word – entrusted. Daunting that anyone, let alone my beloved should entrust me with something to do, with a way to be. To be called, it is not a ‘free ride’, not just a ‘lark’ but rather there is a responsibility with all of it. There is a responsibility to somehow care for and share with, to walk with and to lead.

    Easier to accept and look at as a gift rather than a burden.

    And to trust – because at the end of the day I am going to have to trust that God will give me what I need, will provide me with the teachers and leaders that I need, the people to ‘walk with’ that I will need. The word ‘surrender’ comes to mind as I sit writing my thoughts. Damn, I will need to surrender. Another word that sits a little uncomfortably with me for it can be easy to say but to live…

    Throughout this time here I have held the image of a young child being told by a parent to do something. And laughing the child runs from arms that love, turning and coming back and then away from again. All the while laughing, testing, until finally the child turns quite abruptly, runs and throws him or herself right into arms of love, surrendering to that love, trusting in that love and then doing as he or she is asked.

    From the moment I opened this posting I have felt as if I am somehow being choked – fear does that to me. And I remember the small hidden commitment that I made to myself some years ago – that I would come here every morning and write, actually more – share myself – my fears and thoughts and responses and to bring them into the light, and hopefully find that I am not alone in all of this.

    “Go ahead finally with full confidence and quietly correct in the light of experience the small mistakes that come to light as you go on your way.” Eugene speaks to us – “A father’s communication with his many children…” What a wonderful way to start my day and to move into the weekend.

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