The beginning of March found Eugene writing to Father Courtès in Aix encouraging him and remarking how he was one of the foundation stones of the Congregation.
Oh! you have been really inspired, my dear friend, to write your little letter to me yesterday […] I assessed the intensity of your hardship by the condition in which you know that I am, for I said to myself that you must be feeling it keenly to inform me of it right away. I was so disheartened interiorly that in my desire to lessen the grief that you expressed to me in the way you do when you are extremely worried. I said to myself: ah if I were not a Bishop, I would leave everything to go and resume the post I occupied for many years with consolation and sorrow, for what corner of the earth is there where such a mixture does not exist? But since I saw myself powerless to accomplish this desire of my heart. I remained in my grief and I would still be thus had you not thought of healing my wound by your letter of yesterday evening.
Dear friend, convince yourself well that I would like to provide you with everything you could wish for at the cost of my own rest; that I feel your sufferings as if they were my own, that the day you will be satisfied, I will be overcome by joy; but my dear son, why do you consider yourself to be merely an ordinary member of the Congregation? In my opinion, you are one of its pivotal points, you form part of the structure’s foundations, you are identified and united with the Head, and so you must expect to experience all the vicissitudes, to withstand all the shocks, to fight offensively and defensively according to the Institute’s need. This is a kind of solidarity which you and an infinitely small number of others share with me.” (607:IX in Oblate Writings)
I have read and reread this letter and find myself filled with joy. Eugene’s love and appreciation, his caring – so intense that he admits out loud to Fr. Courtes his heart’s wishes if he were not a Bishop and so able to follow his heart. I am sure that his letter must have meant so much to Fr. Courtes. I liken it to the odd words of praise and encouragement that I get from time to time from a few very close and well-loved friends. It is always such a gift to hear from another that we are loved and appreciated.
And Eugene comments on Fr. Courtes’ place in the congregation. I liken it yesterday when I was told by another that indeed I am following where I am led by the Spirit. We spoke of some of the fruits of praying as I do. I think of the few words that I received recently from a friend who is very busy. They were like a small gift, heartening. Sometimes to be recognized by another – that can be a gift that lifts the soul, for it consoles and celebrates. And to be recognized and celebrated by another(s) – well that is a wonderful way to pass through a day.