On October 11, 1837 Eugene wrote a strong letter to Fr. Courtes in Aix reproaching him for not having given Holy Communion to person who though repentant was sentenced to death and also about the importance of missions for instructing the people.

You have made a very great mistake in refusing Jouve Holy Communion. This situation has taken away from me all the joy that the account of his beautiful death had caused me.

 I thought you were more loyal to my teachings which are those of the Church. You could not have forgotten what I have done at the execution of Germaine. Quite recently the Quotidienne and so many other newspapers informed you what I did at Gap. Hence you have become a real weakling and I must tell you that you have greatly sinned. I don’t want to see you observing practices which the Sovereign Pontiffs describe as barbarian and which they order to be destroyed wherever they are found. These horrible practices, moreover, have been abrogated in your district, either through the precedent I had set by my example, or through the solemn approval his Grace the Archbishop de Bausset, who came to confirm and give Holy Communion to all the accused as well as condemned prisoners who were in the jails at the time of the retreat we preached there. Even if it were otherwise, you should have done your duty without worrying about the consequences. God’s commandment must take precedence over any human consideration.

 I am sorry that his Grace the Archbishop allows himself to be influenced by people like the parish priest of N. He cannot have any idea of the people’s situation if he does not know how to reduce to silence those presumptuous men who dare to propose that since the people are not instructed, it is not the moment to preach the mission. Then who will come forward to instruct them? Don’t we know that a mission is needed precisely to instruct the people gone astray, because only a mission could draw people to the church.” (648:IX in Oblate Writings)

This letter speaks most strongly to me.  Eugene could be writing about the church and some of the practices of the day in the 21st century rather than those of 19th century.  Here, at least in this part of the world the problem is not whether the prisoners are worthy and needing of the Eucharist, but whether those who have divorced and remarried outside of the church are to share in all that God has given to us, including the Eucharist.  It would seem to be the problem of those whose sexuality differs from one way of being; for those who wish to follow God’s call to them within the Catholic Church to shepherd in a very specific way, but who because of their gender are not considered at all.  It seems to be so easy to get caught up in the current state of judgement and exclusion, of limiting love and forgiveness, of deciding who and how and when the teaching of Jesus will be shared with.

We are called to share our humanity with all, in the midst of all that is.  I believe our spirituality is meant to be lived, not whispered in a small dark room, or only in silent prayer to God only.  It must be something alive – shared with each other.  I believe that it is in sharing everything that we have been given that we live out the awesome love of our God.  If we hold it for a select and elite few then we are saying that Jesus Crucified and Resurrected was only for a small portion of the world.

I believe that Jesus, our Saviour is for all of mankind, not just a select few because of their gender, or their state in life, or whether they have followed a set of particular rules.  “Eleanor I love you, you are mine, I have called you by name….”  There was no mention of worthiness or rules that I did or did not follow.  I was not created to try to remake God in my image, but rather to allow God to continuously be making me in God’s image.

About Eleanor Rabnett

Oblate Associate
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