On October 14, 1836 Eugene de Mazenod wrote to one of the Oblates who seemed to be having problems with others in his community.  His treatment of them showed a remarkable lack of respect and love both to his community and to himself.

Come now, who made you your brother’s judge, especially of those to whom you owe deference on account of your respective positions in the Congregation, by what right do you make yourself the interpreter of our Rules? Doesn’t it contain, like every Society, a power to act at its discretion and a superior to whom alone it pertains to judge what actions, permissions or dispensations are opportune for the Church’s service and the greatest good of the Congregation? Imagine the disorder that would ensue were everyone to thus assume to themselves – following their caprices, moods, prejudices and to speak plainly, their self-interest – the right to raise up their voices in criticism and abuse as they wish! […]. Show me the superior crazy enough to put up with it. In consequence, my dear son, I cannot find words to express adequately my condemnation of the way you have acted in this matter. Again, if a genuine, even if misplaced, zeal were discernible at back of this errant behaviour, it would be possible to pardon the intention, but no, there is no sign of that here. […] Goodbye, dear son, your unhappy letter has affected me so much that I can’t speak to you of anything else. And I would have found a lot of consolation in conversing with you about the wonders the Lord is working in that land he has entrusted to our zeal, but affliction must needs prevail; my cup of troubles is never full, praise the Lord.”  (589:XIII in Oblate Writings)

It is not always comfortable for me to sit here with Eugene, reading of others who sometimes show less than their best.  Indeed I find myself quite unable to stop from looking at my own life and recognizing not only myself but others.  But I must return and look first at myself and my behaviour.  It is strange because even as I start to do this I find myself praising God for granting me the courage and the strength to look and see the truth that I am more than capable of being the same with my brothers and sisters – and more.  My shame burns a hole through me as I think of how I have been.  At the same time there is a very real joy that God has seen fit to see all of my weaknesses and shortcomings along with an extreme love which He himself planted within my heart and so he puts before me a banquet filled with those whom he also loves so dearly to inspire and lead me, to console me  and remind me most constantly of His love for me.

Here I read of the love of Eugene for one of his sons who though gifted and talented could also cause no end of problems and hurt towards others.  Here I see the love of God, the love of Jesus for Peter even as Peter denied him the three times.  This is the enormity of God’s love.

About Eleanor Rabnett

Oblate Associate
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