Two days later Eugene wrote a second longer letter to Fr. Casimir Aubert about the Superior having always to consult his counsel.
“… I presume that he will let the community know my mind as no doubt he will share with you and Father Gignoux my observations concerning the local administration of our houses. I have noticed that there is a lack of sufficient regularity in the handling of money, in particular that the intent of the Rule is not followed in the various meetings or councils that ought to be held in each house at fixed intervals. […] I would like things to be put on a regular basis everywhere and make a serious appeal on this point as on all others, for the observance of the Rules: it is not my intention to give anybody a dispensation.
…I am always amazed to see that as soon as one of our men is named superior in a particular community, he sets himself up as the sole master, he arranges everything, orders everything as he sees fit, without making the least effort to ask my advice or to consult the men the Rule appoints as his councillors. In this way our local superiors assert their independence far more than the Superior General who never acts without hearing the men around him. They don’t do this deliberately, rather they are letting themselves be influenced, imitating the fashion, I would nearly say, followed in other places, and that is how abuses set in. It’s about time to correct all this, and since this won’t come about of itself, as it ought. I am going to see to it myself.” (570:VIII in Oblate Writings)
“I did it my way!” There was a song with that title. There is a very popular sense of pride in ‘doing it my way’ – like that is a Herculean feat. Another song has a refrain which begins with “all by myself, I don’t need anyone…” In his letter Eugene seems to be reminding Casimir on how we need, how we must resist the temptation to think that it is all about ourselves, all about ‘me’.
Most certainly we add our own flavour to life but when I look back at the Oblates who I love so very dearly – it began with Eugene, and they then each of them picked up that spirit, followed the rules and that is how they lasted and remained a community. It is not about how we can go off on our own, but rather it sis in how we come together. In our coming together we move from mere survival to fully living and flourishing. God did not start out just loving God’s self (except in the sense that we are all a part of God) – but rather loved all, created all to love all. Jesus did not die for himself, he did most certainly die to himself – but not for himself. What would be the point in that?
To recognize and respect the other, to ask for advice, for permission or approval. That costs nothing and the rewards are so very great. I don’t learn on my own any more than I thrive on my own – it is only with and from others. That is why I come here – for inspiration and to learn a way of being and living that I can follow. So – if another has the ‘vision’ of something that I say I wish to take part in and live – then I better become a part of that vision for setting up my own is something else entirely and all it does is feed the ego, but not so much the soul.