December 1836 found Eugene writing a letter to one of his priests who was threatening to leave the Congregation unless he was given different work to do.
“To me your letter is a thorough scandal and I see it as a disregard of all the proprieties and every duty. Your threats of apostasy don’t frighten me at all. The crucifix you claim to consult ought to have told you that you are blinded by your pride. What did you commit yourself to when you vowed obedience? Was it just to do what you want? […] This request accompanied by a threat of apostasy is inspired by a spirit of revolt. Don’t deceive yourself, the number of those guilty like yourself doesn’t make your case any better nor your perjury less sacrilegious.” (596:XIII in Oblate Writings)
What a sad letter Eugene had to write. I have heard myself these types of threats from others that sound a little like “if I don’t get to do what I want and choose then I’m going to quit and go elsewhere”. And if I am very truthful I must admit that I myself have certainly thought similar thoughts before and doubtless I used to say it out loud.
In reading the history of the priest in question I learned that at one point he said that he had not become an Oblate to be a parish priest but to be a missionary. Again, I have heard similar statements in my time. I wonder what he thought being a missionary was all about. A missionary is one who is sent to the people.
I think of some of the people in my parish who faithfully come to church each week. It would seem that some of them are waiting for something – perhaps that something is to be ‘touched’ in an up close and personal way. They might well be ‘churched’ as some say, but there can be an emptiness there. I look at my own experience growing as a child into an adult. I had been ‘churched’ but God truly was not ‘real’ to me in a personal way. Rather God was more remote than the furthest stars in our universe. God touched me and picked me up into a never-ending embrace – it is where I continue to live – within that embrace. That is what I want so very badly for all of our parishioners here. I love them that deeply. I did not choose this – rather it chose me.