On July 26 1835 Eugene wrote a short letter to Fr. Tempier in Marseilles about the timeliness of his returning to Marseilles.  It must be remembered that Eugene was no longer a citizen of France and was no longer the Vicar General to his Uncle in Marseilles.  He felt all this very keenly as he pondered how best to go about serving both his congregation and those who were dying due to the cholera epidemic..

 “… In all this, the strange thing is that I’m functioning and acting without having any conviction about the timeliness of what I’m doing; for no human consideration makes the least impression on me and I don’t discern the supernatural principle that should be involved in my position and as things are at the moment. (527:VIII in Oblate Writings)

I find Eugene (and please God I am not attributing characteristics to him that are false), but I find his indecision to returning to Marseilles to be also due in part to the fact of his struggle with what the government of France has done to him – (we will see this spelled out clearly in his next letter).

There is a measure of sorrow in my heart as I reflect on his words, for to me he sounds a little hurt and almost a little lost as sometimes happen in the grip of a great struggle or sorrow.  I liken it to what I have experienced in my own life where there were no ‘feelings’ of the spiritual or even physical world as I struggled with deep loss and pain.  It felt as if I was simply passing through something without my feet touching the ground.

Eugene, who so greatly and tenderly cherished his sons and those poor who were of special favour to God, seems uncharacteristically unable to make a firm decision on what he will do.  We know from history of course that he continued on but during this time he was strangely vulnerable in a special way.

No I certainly do not want to attribute something to him that is not really him.  Strange that I should be able to relate though – perhaps it is because of love.  There are always those few special people in our lives who we relate to with a special love, an added tenderness and even as I write these words my mind is filled with some very special faces of those I love. I will hold on to this in days ahead when sometimes the struggle to know what to do reaches into the deepest part of myself and where I find no answers.

About Eleanor Rabnett

Oblate Associate
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