In December Eugene wrote to his dear friend, Bishop Forbin-Janson, Bishop of Nancy and Toul giving thanks that his ordeal (the Icosia Affair) was at long last over and speaking of how it continued for Bishop Forbin-Janson.
“Heavens, what merit these people are procuring you! But also what anguish, heartache for a pastor such as you! It is inhuman, diabolical; in fact only the devil could inspire such rage. I had hoped that the Government would succeed in making these erring people see sense, I see from your letter that it is not so. In this desperate state of affairs, why not come to Aix or Avignon?[…] All I ask is that you never create obstacles based on purely human considerations. We are above all and essentially men of the Church. The salvation of souls is our special vocation. It is the work towards which we must tend with all our efforts, the accidents that God permits should not check the ever supernatural action of our onward march, we must draw back only before what is sinful, everything else has to be surmounted, overcome because of the excellence of the end, and it must be said, out of duty..” (180:XV in Oblate Writings)
I had problems reflecting on this piece – I found myself wanting to skitter away from it saying it has nothing to do with me – after all I am not a priest therefore my job is not the salvation of souls. To be honest it scared me a little for some reason and so I stayed with it precisely because of my own thoughts and weaknesses, because I can’t help feeling like I am trying to distance myself from it.
Eugene did not shy away from telling Forbin-Janson to stand tall and to be true to himself and to what God was calling him to. Eugene who had suffered so greatly from similar treatment of the government and the king knew intimately what Forbin-Janson was experiencing and that was the reason for his writing as he did.
I find myself thinking of a situation with a person that I know – not at all the same as Eugene’s but a situation which has resulted in me hurting and wanting to give up. I have reflected on this and realise I only want to do things in such a way that no others will be hurt, and that respects all peoples – not just myself and my wants and needs. And no matter how I feel I have been treated I need always to simply continue loving. I remember Eugene saying to the poor and downtrodden to remember who they were in the eyes of God. Exactly what he was saying to Forbin-Janson.
Part of me still wants to turn away while another smaller piece of my souls cries out for courage and strength that I might face my fears and hurts and stand in them. I want to find a way to work through all of this in a loving way. Pray for me please.