Continuing form our previous entry, we see how Eugene recommended that Louis Dassy not get carried away by his zeal for archaeology. The point he makes is relevant to all of us in our multi-tasking society: do some of our activities take us away from the real focus where we should be placing the best of our time and energy?

I am not absolutely opposed to your accepting to be part of this commission, for the reasons I have alleged, but I request you very explicitly not to establish yourself as the mainspring of this commission and not to be more concerned than the rest about it functioning well. Indeed, to the contrary, due to the duties you have to fulfil and from which I cannot dispense you. I insist that you take a back seat and be on it for giving advice rather than being active.

If you depart from this rule of wisdom, it is I who say that you will soon be like insipid salt, “what if salt loses its flavor”, I say no more, it is up to you to meditate seriously on this text, so that you may be preserved from terrible consequences which all of us must dread.

Thus, even while remaining within the limits I have indicated to you, if you realize that your piety suffers therefrom, your zeal for the salvation of souls is lessening, that you experience some distaste for the great ministry that is proper and characteristic of your vocation, leave aside all the books of science and bury yourself more than ever in the only study that is strictly necessary wherein we are assured of not meeting with disappointment or deception.

Good-bye. my dear child, I am speaking to you as a father, as a superior, as a bishop. I have nothing further except to embrace you and bless you.

Letter to Father Louis Dassy, 29 March 1842, EO IX n 759

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “If you depart from this rule of wisdom…”. This is not a threat that Eugene is uttering, but something far worse for he is aware of what can happen to a vocation that is not nourished: from within and from the outside.

    Years ago, when I first sobered up it was with the help of AA, the people, the 12 Steps & Traditions (like a Rule for Life), and a “higher power”. Still, I decided that I would do it on my own terms. My weakness and powerlessness were harshly and glaringly evident. But the God whose name I would not utter did not abandon me but rather picked me up and sent more to care for me. I am reminded of the good Samaritan in the gospel and how I experienced that in my own life. Some months later I met I met Jesus and realised within myself the story of the Prodigal Son, in my case the prodigal daughter.

    I can’t say I arose to fame or was known like the young man in Luke 18; but still God listened and sent St. Eugene de Mazenod to talk with me, to invite me to walk with him for a while. I began by committing myself to walk in his footsteps for a year at a time; those commitments were small, but they deepened and began to bloom and become fruit for others.

    St. Eugene and his many sons and daughters have been a part of my salvation, of my redemption. Living within me is a beautiful rule of wisdom, an exquisite Rule of Life which nourishes me. Many years ago, during a retreat I was asked what it might look like to become a living Gospel. I wanted that but it is only now that I have dared to look at myself in the light of those Gospel readings. The Gospel that is alive within me and not just some abstract but lovely little stories told by Jesus.

    This is life that grows from listening and living a rule of wisdom.

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