When Cholera reached Aix at the end of August in 1837, Eugene wrote to Fr. Courtes to have courage and to trust in God. A short letter but very strong in direction.
“Courage, my good Courtès, there is nothing more reassuring than to be where the good Lord places you. You and I, and all of us, are assured of doing the Master’s will, to whom eternity as well as time belong. Let us fear nothing; my only concern or rather my greatest concern for you is that I am far from you. The confidence the good Lord gives me will reassure you; those who surround me share it very simply. This condition is necessary for morale; consider that there is not one priest in Marseilles, whatever his constitution may be, who has experienced the least attack, even though several among them are, so to speak. breathing only the air of the cholera patients day and night.” (640:IX in Oblate Writings)
Here we have Eugene reminding his sons to have courage, to trust in God.
It makes me want to cry for he could be speaking to me right now. Be brave he seems to say, trust in God for he has never abandoned you. Which is true. When I think of the violence and horror that I survived as a child growing up and then through my teens and my twenties. It is the stuff of pure miracle that I survived. And even more, for then God brought me into the ‘living’. God wanted for me to live and love and be loved. In truth I had thought that to be quite beyond such as myself.
“Eleanor, I love you. I have called you by name and you are mine.” The opening salvo when he lifted me up to embrace me with unimaginable and immense tenderness. The beginning – as much the beginning as was my baptism. It happened during Confession. Imagine it – during confession. I laugh only because Eugene always made sure that confession was there for the poor. I was one of those very poor who had nothing left, nothing at all. Confession. And then he introduced me to himself on the Cross.
Mine is the story of immense love and mercy; of love and fire and life. And it is only just beginning. Courage and trust. How could I ever deny my God?