Jean Baptiste Mille was 31 years old and had been ordained for 18 months – and here he was in Billens as superior of the scholasticate and novice master. Because of the political events in France, Eugene had had no choice but to entrust this responsibility on him. No wonder that he experiences anguish at the formation task that he must accomplish in the lives of those entrusted to him d=for such a brief time of formation.
Far from finding long the short period of time devoted to preparation, it must be confessed that it is not ample enough for the purpose of divesting oneself of what remains of the old man, of adorning one’s soul with the many virtues we lack and thus disposing ourselves to make to God an offering as little unworthy of him as possible.
Eugene gives him fatherly consolation and advice:
So preach humility and distrust of self and inspire a great longing for perfection, cost what it may to our nature to achieve it. It is a work of patience and one all too often seasoned with sorrows that is imposed on you. That does not matter, you have obedience to facilitate a task that would be very burdensome if you were left to your own natural resources.
Overcome evil with good; never lose courage; all who have exercised the same ministry as yourself have known the same anguish.
Ask God to enlighten you, ponder carefully all that depends on you for success, and then entrust yourself with untroubled heart and without anxiety to divine providence which will not let those who rest their hope on it be abandoned.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille and to the Fathers and Brothers at Billens, 3 November 1831, EO VIII n 406
Beautiful words for all those who are entrusted with the development of the young: parents, teachers, formators, spiritual directors, pastors… “entrust yourself with untroubled heart and without anxiety to divine providence which will not let those who rest their hope on it be abandoned.”