Young Father Louis Toussaint Dassy was very talented and full of zeal. He wrote to Eugene on March 19 to wish him for his patronal feast day. He also mentioned that the Arts committee of Paris had appointed him the correspondent of its department for historical works and that the Bishop of Grenoble was going to suggest that he be part of a commission “to draw up a statistical account of the monuments, of the finest buildings in the diocese and of all archaeological matters that could be of interest to religion: Church history, Christian literature and the Arts.”

Eugene commented in his diary:

He expresses, in this letter, the best sentiments of dedication to my person and to the congregation. He then comes to his favorite thought, science, archeology, etc. The minister of public education has sent him, in order to encourage him in his works, a superb work: “Les éléments de paléographie” [The elements of paleography]. He was appointed correspondent of his ministry for historical works.

He sees in this some fortunate results for the glory of our holy congregation, “It is always that you will not see me work with another motive. For the congregation, my spirit, my heart, my time and my life.”

What to reply to a man who expresses such wonderful sentiments? Certainly, I am far from thinking like him. I do not at all see any glory for the congregation in all this, but Father Dassy needs activity: that one is worth as much as another.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 28 March 1842, EO XXI

With a touch of realism, Eugene realized that this young man needed mental stimulation – but had to guard against  losing a sense of priority.

How do we manage the different demands of work and pleasure?

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It is the “being” that gives life to the “doing” and not the opposite. It can be a temptation sometimes to all ourselves to give into needs of being noticed and appreciated. Flattery and renown are not always life-giving.

    Where and who do we turn to when we empty and ignored If it is not our family and our intersecting communities then we might be looking in the wrong places. And even as I write I realise that I too am not immune to being stroked and noticed. But thankfully it is given by members of my family and community; reminding me why and who I am in the eyes of God.

    I think of how Eugene came to realise his priorities which included him preaching missions; just as he was offered to do by joining his good friend Forbin Janson. It was his friend who offered him a position with the Missionaries of France to preach the Good News. But Eugene held out and listened and waiting, he went “deeper” within himself and heard God speak to him, to remind him of the poor that he was called to serve.

    Community is very much a part of the equation. I recently had to make a very painful and difficult decision that could affect myself and those whom I belong to. It was different members of those intersecting communities that spoke with me and supported me. I got that “human touch” of God speaking and moving through our Mazenodian Family and others who allow themselves to be used by God. They asked how they could help and support me right where I am now. They did not pull me away from where God has planted me but rather helped me to look at my priorities with love and understanding.

    This morning God has set me back on my path and this evening I will enter into a weekend retreat on Zoom. This is how I recognize the glory of God’s Kingdom and our communities within it.

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