Continuing with the notes written by St. Eugene during his retreat of 1837 in preparation for being named Bishop of Marseille I note that Eugene is not necessarily happy at the state of the current practices of some of the Bishops in the Church nor of the pastors in the diocese. He seems already to be focussing on his new and enlarged ‘family’.
“Today a bishop is relegated to the inner sanctum of his office, to give out dispensations or attend to his correspondence. And if he makes an appearance on occasion in a parish it is to administer confirmation that can only be received from him. […] And God knows how these men [parish priests] who are so independent of the authority from which their own emanates and who are what they are solely through that, God knows how they acquit themselves of their duties, the value they attach to these souls who are confided to them by their chief pastor and whose affections, trust and respect they take care to attach to themselves alone. They have them served by curates; not the least concern to bring back those who stray, little or no zeal to affirm those who are making progress, no effort to have them advance in perfection. All remains unchanged. Everything is done by routine, the important thing is to change nothing, that is one must do as little and as ill as those who came before; ordinary humdrum suffices. […] Since his titles and the heavy responsibility that weighs on him are held in ignorance, exception will be taken if he wishes to get involved in the affairs of his family, who really are his, for whom he must render an account to God, and whom he is therefore bound to watch over and direct himself if necessary.” ” (185:XV in Oblate Writings)
Most obviously this will not be a simply 9 to 5 job for Eugene. I am not accustomed to hearing many priests, pastors or even Bishops speaking of their “families” in such a way and it brings great hope to hear this from Eugene, for most surely there are many such men in the Church today.
“Since his titles and the heavy responsibility that weighs on him are held in ignorance, exception will be taken if he wishes to get involved in the affairs of his family, who really are his, for whom he must render an account to God, and whom he is therefore bound to watch over and direct himself if necessary.”
Eugene is speaking of his newly extended family, which is now all of the Church within his See. It is no longer simply the Oblates and his beloved poor – he speaks of now getting involved with all.
How do I translate this to my life? Do I recognize any of myself in this, my love of my family, my parish, the Oblates and Associates? Although not a leader charged with anything do I love them and serve them, care for them as if they are mine?
I sit here in immense gratitude for all that I have been given. God knows of my need to love, to care for and nourish and look at the family that He has given to me! How blessed are we that our God loves us so and gives us more than we can even think to ask for.