St. Eugene de Mazenod wrote a short letter to Father Tempier on the 24th of July detailing the reason he had burnt a piece of paper containing reproaches uncharitably made to a penitent.

“I shall not end my letter without telling you that the note inserted in yours meant for the penitent concerned was neither friendly nor charitable. People do not expect such hard expressions. If one knows the human heart, one should not expect to heal wounds with such a remedy. Knowing the individual’s sensitivity, I can assure you that he would have been extremely upset by it. That is why I have burnt this little piece of paper which did not at all fit the need.” (631:IX in Oblate Writings)

I know absolutely nothing about the penitent or the letter.  But I do know that there have been times when I have had thoughts that were most likely along the lines of his letter – but I did not act on them and for that I can only thank God.  I have so very often felt guilty after occasions such as that for my thoughts.  Am I doomed forever because I am quite unable to control my thoughts when God has yet to see fit to control them for me?

Whether Eugene reasoned it all out or like me decided to put such thoughts aside and let God somehow deal with the entire matter – I take comfort in knowing that he too had these types of thoughts and reactions to certain things and people.  I find for the most part if I speak aloud of having them people just ‘shush’ the comment away and I often wonder if anyone else is a weak in controlling their thoughts as I.  A relief it is indeed to know that Eugene, who founded my beloved Oblates, who have been canonized a Saint with a big “S” was prone or at least struggled as do I.  There is hope for me yet.

For that I most readily give thanks.

About Eleanor Rabnett

Oblate Associate
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