February 20 1837 Eugene wrote a letter to Fr. Guigues who was staying with the parish priest of  Theys, close to Grenoble.  It appears that Fr. Guigues was struggling with a group of youth who appeared to be unrepentant for their sins and who were exuberant as youth are.  Perhaps Fr. Guigues wanted them to be serious and pious.  I do not know but Eugene wrote at length as to how he though Fr. Guigues should be conducting himself with these young people who were simply being mischievous, forgiveness and the sacraments needed to be brought into play.

“Remember that you are sent to sinners, and even to hardened sinners. […] This is all that we desire, this is the result of and compensation for our labours. We are the ministers of his mercy, and so let us always have the tenderness of a father towards all; let us easily forget the insults that are sometimes committed against us in the exercise of our ministry as the good Lord wishes to forget the offences continually being committed against him.” (605:IX in Oblate Writings)

This speaks so solidly to me for I have been ‘pouring my heart out in private prayer of how I have been grieved by another, or a couple of others’.  There is a space in my heart which does not seem to be inclined towards forgiveness and going the extra mile with the very ones who I have perceived as having hurt or excluded me.  I would so love to say that I am not that small or petty, but there is a part of me that seems to want to be that way.

We are sent to others who are like ourselves and if we do not show them the same mercy and forgiveness with tender hearts that are open only to loving then we are spurning the gifts of God.  I am reminded of the servant who buried the talents given to him into the ground so that nothing would happen to them, so they wouldn’t be tarnished or lost or misspent.  Who am I to judge?  So I continue to love, as I have been doing, but ensuring that it is with tenderness and action and not merely piety and lip-service.  I try (sometimes unsuccessfully) to not give into to measuring, but rather to give without limits or conditions – in other words as I have been given to by God.

Rather than being filled with anger or self-pity, or being unable to get past slights and hurt I think I too would like the grace to be a minister of mercy.


About Eleanor Rabnett

Oblate Associate
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