There have been problems with both the Superior and the brothers in Billens and it is to this that Eugene writes.
I have to confess that the pen fell from my hand each time I made the effort to write you. What’s there to say to men who after so many years of religious life don’t have the first idea of their chief and essential obligations, and some of whom go so far as to threaten to leave if their obedience is not changed, in other words, if instead of being told what they have to do, they are not asked to place their orders, so that their tastes can be complied with … . […] He has infected everyone with his discontent and the men he had to deal with were weak enough to allow themselves to be influenced.” (June 23, 1833 letter To the Fathers at Billens – 447:VIII in Oblate Writings)
This is not something that just happened 200 years ago for I see it still happening today. I see it in our parishes and families, and in some of our workplaces. It is not always overt but it is there in attitude and whispered asides.
“…infected everyone with is discontent and the men he had to deal with were weak enough to allow themselves to be influenced.” This can erode our communities quickly and almost secretly. And I find myself having to question if and how I take part in it somehow – either actively or passively.
As I sit here and reflect there is a part of me that wants to ‘point a finger’ – away from myself – it is always so much easier to look at and blame another. But I must be honest and look at what my attitude is like. Am I gracious when asked to do something or am I long-faced and woeful. Do I run off and whisper in dark corners about how wrong something is? What do my ‘asides’ do to my community – how do they tear away at the fabric of our shared lives?
Is it really so necessary that I do things ‘my’ way? It is Lent – the perfect time to let go of some of that ‘ego’ stuff.