Eugene wrote to Fr. Courtes in Aix on how to behave towards the Archbishop of Aix and any requests that came from the Archbishop concerning chaplaincy of a boarding school.
Don’t you think, my dear Courtès, that it is unwise to always bring me to the fore when it is a question of responding to some proposal of his Grace the Archbishop? Don’t you fear that he may be offended when he hears the opinions of another Bishop constantly quoted in matters pertaining to his diocese? I do not approve this way of doing things. It is much more natural that you say very simply that such a thing is against the spirit of our Rules, against the good of the community you are in charge of and of the members who are under your direction. […] You must follow the opposite system which is to leave me in the background and appear to have recourse to me only in extreme cases.
Regarding the question of the boarding school, when his Grace the Archbishop proposed that you take charge of it, you should have told him in all simplicity that it is against our Rules to take on the regular direction of a community of persons of the opposite sex; that we could go there from time to time to give some instructions, if his Grace the Archbishop wished; but that it is preferable not to overburden your small community with new activities which divert its members from the principal end of the Institute, which is preaching missions..” (645:IX in Oblate Writings)
This letter speaks to me about having to let go of ‘myself’. It speaks to trying to be true to the Rule of Life, the Oblate Constitutions and Rules and not to just running off and doing good works because we are asked or even told to. It speaks to discernment, it speaks to letting go of self and being obedient, to a rule of life, to our Superiors, to how God has called us to live.
It might look a little different now than it did 200 years ago. And it is certainly true that now there are lay people such as myself involved and a part of the family. I have silently and humbly put myself under obedience to my Oblate Superiors for this is what I feel called to. It is not a big deal but it does mean that I have to let go of ‘myself’ and trust that God will not abandon me even as he calls me to the Cross.
It almost sounds holy and romantic somehow. But it’s not – it’s just that I am not quite used to be so open about where my heart lives. The Cross is rough-hewn – there are splinters and nails that stab and tear. Yet still I say yes for it all a part of a heart filled with love and needing desperately to give back that very love in order to somehow become whole.
The focus on the Cross which comes from my primary daily morning reflections has entered into the rest of my day. I am not surprised but I had not expected it to be so evident. There is a vulnerability here that I can only honour.