Eugene continues to write many Oblates in the business of the day, never failing to mention the toll that Cholera is taking on the city. On August 31, 1837 he wrote to Father Guigues, superior at N.-D. de L’Osier :
“I am writing to you also to tell you that till now none of our men has been affected, that is, has died, for to be infected and to die within a few hours is the same. It is useless to be reassured by one’s strong constitution, by one’s state of good health. A person is struck down at any moment without knowing why or how, and then dies without any help. Everyday there are examples of the strongest of men succumbing like the weakest. No one can be sure of the morrow. […] They are coming to take me to the church. Good-bye. I embrace you and I bless all of you. I hope you will redouble your prayers for me.” (639:IX in Oblate Writings)
I find that my reflection from earlier in the day colours all that take in, how I take it in and how I respond. In reading this letter from Eugene I experience a deep quiet joy simply in listening to his words. It would seem that the emptying of myself earlier and then being filled was starkly painful at the same time as being a tender consolation and solace.
And so I find myself responding to the words above, responding to the very evident love that resides in Eugene’s heart. He speaks of the natural weakness of man and how it is only through the grace of God’s strength that they avoid the cholera and so even whatever afflicts our world.
As Eugene says goodbye, he adds that he embraces all of his sons, and daughters. Although they know of his love he is strong enough to state it quite clearly over and over again –knowing how important it is to hear that we are loved, how important it is for each and every one of us to recognize our need to give hugs as well as to receive them.
It was the request for the redoubling of prayer that touched me though the deepest. For it seems that further along in our journey that we travel the more grace that we receive, along with the recognition that we truly need and desire more prayers.
God forbid that I should ever fall prey to the temptation to think that I am or could be above all of that. Dear Eugene pray for me.