Do I believe that when a door closes, God opens a window?

In 1841 when the Oblates discerned that God was calling them to establish a missionary community in Canada, it seemed like an impossible undertaking for a Congregation of 47 men who could not cope with their many commitments in France. Yet they trusted in divine providence, and we have seen how much was achieved in four years. Requests for more Oblates continued to arrive. Eugene’s exasperation at not being able to do more is evident in this letter to the Bishop of Montreal:

If this keeps up much longer, very dear Monseigneur, there will soon be nothing left in France of our poor little Congregation. Here am I sending you three more men and, in order to make this response to the entreaties of our Fathers in Canada, I have to refrain from founding this year an establishment in the diocese of Viviers considered necessary as a hopeful source of suitable recruits for the service of the Church in the ministries undertaken by our Congregation. So I am doing for Canada more than is possible.

Eugene’s trust in God’s providence made him continue to dare the seemingly impossible:

…. Beginnings are feeble as a rule; the impossible is expected of no one. One must, we know, leave something to Providence. I implore you, Monseigneur, to impress this upon those who are obsessed with ideas of perfection which would discourage anyone from undertaking anything in this world.

Finally he refers to a journey he was undertaking to Rome to officiate at his only niece’s marriage and also to consult with the Pope and other members of the Curia on topical issues regarding the delicate Church-State relationship in France.

On the point of departing for Rome, I am in such a hurry that it is on the run that I scribble these lines while reiterating the assurance of my respectful and most tender sentiments.

+ C. J. Eugene, Bishop of Marseilles.

Letter To Bishop Bourget of Montreal, 9 July 1845, EO I n 58

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    Often a door closing looks like letting-go of something we have mistakenly held close, thinking it to be the only thing that matters, is good, or what we really need – simply because it is what we know… But there is something deeper waiting to be discovered through the open window which appears before our hearts, which can be seen through eyes of trust and daring.

    Looking at Eugene’s response to Bishop Bourget we see the living reality of trusting in God for those he continued to send to Canada and the growing of his family and congregation. Not just a holy ‘story’ but a lived reality throughout his and the congregation’s lives.

    For a brief moment I look at Eugene’s words about departing for Rome after just saying yes and I am reminded of another door closing as Fr. Louis Lougen finished his 2nd term as Superior General and giving his report of what had been done and what yet still needed to be looked at. The unknown and then the opening of a new window as the capitulants dared and humbly trusted the Holy Spirit to lead them in the choosing of their next Father General. And I idly wonder at the thoughts of Fr. Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso, O.M.I. as he very quickly set out for Rome and Nemi; after he flung open his own window of grace to hear the whispers of the Spirit.
    “Simplicity… Charity… Obedience…”

    What doors have I stepped through, allowing God to close?

    The closing of my doors is not the Beloved turning away from me, but rather tenderly picking me up and carrying me towards a new window that He has opened; offering a new invitation to dare, to trust. Setting me down as the window becomes a door to be walked through, figuratively and really.

    Small or big… Each night is a rest, allowing God to hold me as he gently closes the door of a day and each morning rising an invitation to look and see the beginning of a new day, a new window to look through. It all depends on how I look at it. It is trust and joy that transforms that window into an open door, that we can choose to step through – or not.

    This morning I choose to step through…

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