In January 1837 Eugene wrote a rather long letter Father Courtès in Aix speaking of the many elements of Missions that were being given – what to do on which days, all of which had been approved by the Bishops of the various dioceses that the Oblates were invited to give Missions to. What really struck me though was the last paragraph of the letter which follows here.
“The good Lord always grants some compensation for the vocations which he sends us to test our fidelity or which he permits peoples’ malice to furnish us. Let us thank him for everything…” (602:IX in Oblate Writings)
There is such a wealth in these few lines for me to reflect on and I feel that once again Eugene is speaking directly to me. He may not have written this letter to me but he most certainly speaking to my heart and consciousness. This does not just apply to priests or to religious communities – but is a part of daily life – at home, at the office, in the ministries we share with others in our parish, with co-volunteers. I need to thank God for M.’s coldness and hateful meanness to me: for it has caused me to look at my response to such treatment, to stand in the face of it rather than running away and importantly to pray for M – not the prayer for God to changer her so she will treat me better but rather a prayer for God to hold her and take all of her pain. Indeed I am called to remain where I have been planted and to love – no matter what.
It is not the first time I have been hated and I don’t imagine it will be the last. And although I know I have been far from perfect in my own dealings with some people I have to say that I do not understand they why of prolonged treatment by some. I prefer to let it out when I feel like that and then to let it go, really let it go. To hold on to it is sure death, at least on the inside. In truth being treated thusly does call me to sometimes question myself and to really look at where I am called to be (just because running away can appear really attractive for a couple of minutes). Where is God calling me to be? Who is God calling me to be and how am I called to live? I believe that I am being called to stand right where I have been planted (at least for now) and if there are stones, large and small on my path, to look at how I can walk around them. This is how I am called to travel on my journey down a chosen path. Chosen by both myself and God. And to be able to pray for him throughout.
So I can most times remain strong in the purpose, the task that God has given me to do, the person God has ordained me to be. There is almost a kind of fearlessness, as if I am armed and so no arrow will strike me down. This is what comes from being able to find the good in all things and give thanks to God for arranging life as it is. Who knows what opportunities I offer to others!