In 1842-1843, the ten scholastics who were theology students and had been living at the Seminary of Marseilles until then, were sent to N.-D. de L’Osier. Father Guigues, the community superior was very unhappy because he needed more Oblates to help him to care for the influx of students. Eugene responded:

You are wrong in troubling yourself so much about what will happen as a result of my decision concerning your house. Your conscience should be perfectly at ease after what I told you. You are only repeating to me what I knew as well as you did, I don’t have to change my decision. I don’t have the time nor the will to disprove your reasons. Let it suffice you to know that it cannot be otherwise.

The commitments of the Oblates in France, Canada and England did not permit Eugene to send more personnel to help Fr Guigues.

Once and for all know how to accept your lot with a good grace and not aggravate my anxieties through demands which you should understand that I am unable to grant… I beg each one of you to stop complaining and murmuring. Your duty is to suppress this disorder which occasions so much evil. Do what is laid down for you without so much groaning which is heard in the house and outside. Make a virtue out of necessity and God will help you.

Eugene, with his typical dry sense of humor, exasperatedly adds that he does not have the power to create people out of nothing:

As for myself. I recognize my powerlessness to create and I remain at peace.

Letter to Fr Eugene Guigues, 27 September 1842, EO IX n 777

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Once again, we are invited to new awareness of what it was like for Eugene, as Bishop of Marseilles, as Founder of the Oblate Congregation and Father/Mother of what we now recognize as the Mazenodian Family. We are invited to become more aware of what it can be like for each of us in family, community, and leadership with and of each other; for those who are called to be parents, friends, teachers, superiors, councilors, and Superiors General. A constant stretching of the heart to trust totally in God and to share that experience in a very real way with those who have in some way been entrusted with and to our care and love. There is a burden that they do not call heavy only because they love so greatly.

    I am reminded again of how it works at a General Chapter where it takes great oblation and grace in allowing the Holy Spirit to inspire, lead and share in great moments of moving forward as one. And for those chosen to be a living part of such an experience to turn their will over to the Spirit and each other. I think of Jesus and his first disciples, great and small; each receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and then sharing among themselves and then allowing themselves to respond with how and to whom they/we have been sent.

    Many years ago, at a work retreat my Director General used me as an example to illustrate a point. He spoke of how he would often come to me at the beginning of a workday (we both started very early) and ask me to do something, to find a way to make something new possible. He laughed and shared how I would look and him and say “No” – it is not possible, that I did not know enough and that I was not the right person to ask (being as I was not part of the management or his leadership team). He shared with my colleagues and bosses how a few hours later I would go to him to ask questions and find out more about what he was asking for in terms that I could understand. And he shared how I would then say yes, leave his office and spend time trying to figure out how to make that work.

    Not the perfect “yes” for sure, not the perfect obedience or oblation. And there is still a part of me that works that way today – the only exception being that my “no” is often silent and I do not waste a lot of time before trying to discern what is really wanted.

    Strangely I am reminded of the image of Jesus in the center, surrounded by disciples and his flaming heart being shared with those disciples, back and forth with all and then reaching outward beyond the edges of the drawing to where we wait to be touched. Whether it was 200 years ago, 30 years ago or in the present time today we must “make a virtue out of necessity and God will help us.”

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