On September 8, 1836 Eugene wrote the following letter to Father Courtès, at Aix.
“I don’t want to let Father Mouchel go off without a brief word for your ear. In the first place I commend this Father to you, he is I think a dutiful man. He enjoys here the confidence of many men who go to him for confession; he also confesses a large number of women; in this way, although he is no preacher, he made himself very useful in this poor house of Calvaire where there is so much to do and so few men able to function.
…[The obligation of seven hours of sleep is imposed to remedy] the extravagant piety of certain men who want to serve God as they see fit in defiance of all reason, common sense, justice and enlightened religion. What can a man do, there’s no cure for crackpots. I urge you to order Father Aubert on my behalf never to take less than seven hours sleep. This young priest needs a lot of sleep, he isn’t willing to admit it but it is obviously so.” (582:XIII in Oblate Writings)
I love this letter. It reminds me that each person is not perfect in all the same things. Fr. Martin may not have been a good preacher but from all accounts he was a wonderful listener. Each and every person has their own particular gifts to offer and their own unique way of offering those gifts. None of us are little clones of the other.
Then the remark: “What can a man do, there’s no cure for crackpots.“ Most obviously one or more of the men was taking less sleep than was good for them – who knows the reason? But still they were accepted, loved and a part of the community. Most obviously each member of the community was different from the other, yet each of them belonged and made up the whole of the Oblate family.
I look at the congregation today – this family of religious men who have opened their hearts to lay men and women who feel called to walk with them, sharing the gift of Eugene’s charism with them. I myself am not a great preacher or teacher but I do have my own gifts to offer which are lovingly accepted.
Again I am blessed with joy and gratitude in equal proportions.