In November 1834 Eugene wrote to Cardinal Thomas Bernetti, Secretary of State in Rome, in response to a letter from Rome to cease and desist any actions against the French government, this would include trying to clear his name and respond to the charges of having his name removed from the electoral lists so as to make him an alien in his own country and in effect lose his citizenship.

never did it enter into my head and never did I commit myself to not opposing an attack in the courts, if it were directed against me. […] In fact, it is not I who began the process, it is the Government. […] I kept silent patiently, when suddenly, without my making any move towards it, without even any advance warning, I was formally notified of a judgment rendered against me the loss of my French identity was decreed consequent to the acceptance, without the King’s authorization, […].I have kept my word faithfully and I dare say with perfect delicacy and entire submission to the Holy See, […] the pain with which the Holy Father views the continuation of the process brought against me and the desire I have to abstain from anything that could displease him, determine me to desist from my appeal, come of it whatever God wills; […] It remains only for me to entrust myself to the benevolence of the Holy Father into whose hands alone I place my interest and my honour. + Charles Joseph Eugene, Bishop of Icosia.” (174:XV in Oblate Writings)

Here in this time and place we are still celebrating Easter, yet in the period of time we are looking at in Eugene’s life it seems he is being nailed to the Cross alongside of Jesus, and being abandoned by all.  I keep wondering what it must have been like to be threatened with losing the citizenship of your country for doing what?  Being a priest or following the tenets of your faith and church?  And then that same church seeming to abandon him as well.

I love my Church, although I am not blind to some of it’s history or weaknesses.  It is made up of both imperfect men and women – and yet it is my church.  I know what it is to feel a little abandoned by the Church when it seems to be unable to accord women the same dignity of personhood that it gives to men.  There is a deep sadness there.

So I entrust myself to God – to the Church, to the Pope – that is what Eugene did.  The small quiet word ‘obedience’ whispers its way across my heart.  This would seem to be folly by some of my friends and yet I look towards it and trust in the Spirit.  I am where I am supposed to be, just as was Eugene back then.  This may just be another small opportunity of ‘letting go’, of ‘dying to self’.  Wicked.


About Eleanor Rabnett

Oblate Associate
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