Anniversary of the death of my father.
Requiem Mass in spite of my confidence that our Lord had long since granted him entry into his holy Paradise. This commemoration is a duty, which does not mean that I wait for this anniversary day to discharge myself of the duty of prayer for my father.
Every day at Mass I do this for him and for all those who have a right to my remembrance and to my gratitude.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 10 October 1842, EO XXI
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
Eugene’s confidence in God despite opposition:
You are right in being resigned to what God will decide for you. He will never ask of us anything beyond what we can do. People are more demanding than God, but it is not people whom we are to please.
If we do God’s will, we shall succeed against peoples’ expectations and in spite of them
Letter to Fr Eugene Guigues, 27 September 1842, EO IX n 777
Father Daly was an optimist whose sense of judgement was to lead the Oblates into some trouble later on. It did, however, encourage the Oblates to invest themselves in this part of the world and to begin a highly successful missionary province.
“Father Daly,” as we read in Chroniques de la province d’Angleterre, “was endowed with a prismatic imagination which embellished everything and made every prospect appear in its most brilliant side. ”No doubt carried away by Father Daly’s enthusiasm and encouraged by the warm reception received at Dublin, Father Aubert soon entertained great dreams. His letters to Bishop de Mazenod have now disappeared, as well as the one he wrote to Father Honorat at Longueuil (Canada), however this Father gave a resume of it when he wrote to Bishop de Mazenod on November 23: “Reverend Father Aubert wrote to us from Dublin to give us very consoling news which even will yield an influence here in Canada among our friends and enemies. He even promised us a man for next spring. It’s encouraging to have a house with a novitiate in England and one in Ireland. Numerous candidates are expected for the novitiate. Surely God is interested in us and our dear Mother is protecting us.”
When he arrived at Dublin on August 8, Father Aubert was cordially received by the Archbishop and the city’s mayor, Daniel O’Connell. The latter showed interest in the spirit of the Oblates and promised to protect an Oblate foundation. On their part, the Bishops allowed recruiting.
Eugene wrote in his Diary:
There is not anyone up to the great O’Connell who does not wish to contribute towards it. He wants to be the first subscriber and he authorized Fr. Aubert to use his name in the prospectus for sending to him the offerings that will be made to us. He wanted to be affiliated with our society and he received the scapular from it.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 20 September 1842, EO XXI
To Father Aubert himself, Eugene wrote:
I want to use the remaining blank space to congratulate you on your conquest. What you tell me about the excellent O’Connell keenly interests me. He is a valuable patron…
Later, we will be able to do more than give him the scapular. When he really will have benefited you, I can give him a canonical share in the works and merits of the Congregation, as I have just done for the benefactors in Canada.
It remains for me to urge you to write more often, at least once a month.
Letter to Fr Casimir Aubert, 26 September 1842, EO III n 2
As Superior General, Eugene had to deal with the weaknesses and foibles of his Oblates. He always regarded himself as their father and was hurt when they did not realize this.
Letter from Fr. Bermond. My letter has provoked a reply which proves to me that he falls short of being the type of man to send to Canada.
It is not at all a question whether he is a brave child, but he takes things too personally, he misinterprets the conduct of superiors towards him, takes offence at it, retains a memory of it. He nurses the thought that I am prejudiced against him because of the reports that have been made to me against him.
It’s in this way that all those who have some reproaches to make close their hearts while distrusting my sentiments, which is a very fatal error for them. They do not want to understand how much I am a father. More than some imperfections and some miseries are necessary in order to change the sentiments that God has given me for all those who have vowed themselves to him in the Congregation. And Bermond in particular renders me little justice if he writes that the affection that I have for him has been weakened by the difficulties of Laus. [ed The Oblates had been forced to leave the shrine of Notre Dame du Laus, causing suffering to Eugene]
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 4 October 1842, EO XXI
Father Bermond and Eugene were to have a stormy relationship in the coming years. Despite his shortcomings, Fr Bermond did a lot of good missionary work in Canada. God certainly uses us all – warts and all!
When Eugene wrote in his diary at the end of the day, he recorded not only the happenings, but also his personal reactions. The Diary reveals a wry sense of humor in the way in which he expresses himself privately. The Diary was not intended for others to read.
In this entry he comments about one of the Oblates who had a clique of somewhat disturbed nuns around him with whom he conducted correspondence on esoteric spiritual topics. Eugene had no time for this.
Here are some religious, some men who claim to alone have the secret of perfection, who perform high spirituality with some bigots whom they call earthly angels and who are only fanatics who mimic in the most ridiculous manner the souls of the elite, whose language they do not even understand which they take into their heads to use, to even exaggerate in their farcical correspondence. What a pity!
Eugene wanted to send this “spiritual” Oblate to Corsica as a missionary.
It is unimaginable to what degree this good Father deludes himself. His letter inspires pity. He claims that his mother would die if he were to go to Corsica, that he is compelled under pain of sin to not kill his mother, therefore, he is not able in conscience to comply with my obedience to go to this country. There are some proud religious!
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 1 October 1842, EO XXI
Despite being the cause of this outburst, the Oblate in question proved himself to be a dedicated and successful missionary for the succeeding 30 years.
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Father Casimir Aubert, was an Oblate respected by Eugene and a person with whom he shared many of his more private thoughts. Eugene confided to him:
I am sorely tried by our Fathers in Canada. Fr. Baudrand, utterly outraged with the lack of agreement to be found in the ideas of Fr. Honorat and Fr. Telmon, has filled our houses with his exaggerated complaints… and it is 2000 leagues away that these things are happening! It is impossible for people around not to notice this disorder and our fine future in those regions is terribly compromised.
In the midst of these woes, Eugene exclaimed:
However, God works miracles for us. In spite of the difficulties caused by this treason…
He gives thanks for the generosity of lay benefactors who generously gave material support to the missionaries, and he continues to give thanks for God’s blessings:
As for the spiritual, the most abundant blessings have accompanied the ten missions which our Fathers have already given.
The fine ministry of the Oblates began to attract vocations and also requests from other dioceses :
Two excellent priests have joined them, others are announced. The Bishops of Toronto and Quebec are asking for us.
But I am fearful lest all will come to nothing through the fault of those unworthy sons who have no idea how to endure anything, sacrifice anything or excuse anything except their own faults. I am outraged as much as afflicted by such conduct.
Letter to Casimir Aubert, 26 September 1842, EO III n 2