March 9, 1837 Eugene wrote to the Vicar General of Aix to speak of a priest who had left the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Most obviously from the letter we are able to determine that Eugene told the Abbe in question to return to his Bishop and wanted to make them aware of the Abbe’s behaviour that was not in sync with those of the Oblates.
“I take the liberty of recommending this young priest to your kindness. He was not sent away due to any immorality, but as unsuited to do good in the Congregation which he failed to edify by that exact regularity which it requires from each of its members. I think that, with supervision, M. G can acquire that common virtue seen as sufficient in a great number of others, […] he has a polite manner, a lot of finesse in character, but also a depth of vanity which hinders him… […] I am going into these details to ease my conscience and to answer in advance some questions that you might want to ask me. If need be, M. Courtès can answer any questions that you may see fit to address to him.” (92:XIII in Oblate Writings)
What a letter to have to write, and I can understand why this particular man might not have been suited to being a member of the congregation, yet Eugene did not rule out his being able to work as a priest for the Diocese of Aix.
I have gone through periods of questioning myself. Very early on and quite continuously I have questioned if I was suited to become an Oblate Associate, was this truly where I God wanted me to be? I had little that I knew of to offer save myself and an intense will to give myself over to, to surrender who I was to God. I lacked and to a degree do still lack in many virtues, however I soften that by stating that I am learning. So I questioned. But in the end I was accepted by the Oblates and that is my joy. And any virtue that I have is due strictly and only to God’s grace for it was not attained through any years of learning and formation, but rather as a gift given by the Holy Spirit. And too it was recognized as there being between us a shared bond, a commonality in our love of God and the poor, a shared charism and spirit. Of this I am ever joyous for it is more than a one-time commitment, it’s a relationship, a way of life. It fills me with joy even as I write.
I am a little more sure of myself these days – I realise it is due to the Holy Spirit which seems to have taken up residence in my consciousness. I do not wish to eject her or close the door and windows in her face. That the Spirit of God has deemed it appropriate to spend so much time and being with me – I continue to give thanks and rejoice in the richness that is life in God. I don’t want to hide between walls or veils. This is my joy.