Eugene finally writes about what he believes he can and must do for those that he is to be chief pastor for in Marseilles. This will be his flock!
“The one sort having kept the faith, but not practicing the precepts of their religion. The others, faithful up to a certain point, but of whom only a tiny number is well-instructed in its duties with regard to the chief and properly-speaking only pastor of their souls.
Here we have it – Eugene’s “how to”. And although he speaks of two types of people he believes that instruction will help both groups.
He continues speaking to the “how he will instruct them”.
One can, I think, bring back both sorts through instruction, win their allegiance through good example, regularity of a truly episcopal life-style, zeal, charity, by fatherly ways worthy of a chief pastor who has a sense of his duties considered in the spiritual order, i.e., who sees things with the eyes of faith and looks on his diocesans as children whom God has given him, whose true spiritual father he is…”.
He writes of setting an example and loving. He takes very seriously his position as a leader, a shepherd and he speaks of his flock. Just as he is father to the Oblates so will he be father to his flock.
Then most importantly he writes: “he must love with the most constant and tender love, for whom he must endure anything, even their very ingratitude.” (185:XV in Oblate Writings)
Constant and tender love for all who he is charged to love and care for – even if they do not want to accept his tenderness, his caring. I could almost cry as I reflect on this – because this is a most beautiful love, it is the cross.
Even as I read and ponder it seems Eugene could be speaking to me. I am called to love – even those I struggle with, even those who dislike or hate me. They might decide that I have nothing of value for them, but still I offer them my love – fully. I guess I need this reminder.