St. Eugene wrote a long letter to Fr. Casimir Aubert on October 14, 1837. It was a letter filled with love while at the same time being a bit of reproach because Fr. Aubert had disobeyed him by not remaining longer at St. Martin-des-Pallieres for his needed rest. I copy much of it here because of the content.
“It is at St-Martin, my dear Aubert, that you should have remained 1) because I had asked you to stay there three weeks and I have consented to such a short period only because we were hard-pressed by the retreat. I had expressed my wish too well for there to be any possibility of misunderstanding. What good can be accomplished by an absence of two weeks? 2) because I had explicitly written to my sister, who will not have failed to communicate it to you, that you should stay with her until I gave further orders. I relied so much on this order that I was going to write to you the very day I received my sister’s letter informing me that your departure was to take place on the day I received her letter. You knew quite well that I was on a visitation tour, so you should not have been surprised at not receiving a prompt reply to your letter, and above all, knowing how I abhor interpretations, you should not have made use of them against an explicit order perfectly known to you.
The reasons you allege to excuse yourself are not acceptable; I knew beforehand about the usefulness of your presence at the house of Calvaire and all the service you could render in the church. Thus you did not have to trouble yourself about it anymore. I had sent you out to the country precisely to take your mind away from these concerns. You cannot defend yourself by claiming a lack of simplicity in your obedience for you knew my intention too well. If you fall back into your usual state of weakness and you are obliged to apply the brakes in the midst of your year’s work, you will have to blame yourself before God for being its cause. If your health continues to get worse, you will be responsible for it before God, before the Church, the Congregation and myself. When one is sent to teach solid virtues to others, one must behave in a way that would hardly be permissible to the inconsiderate fervour of a novice. I intend that the week you are going to spend at Aix be a supplement to your stay at St-Martin. For a moment I debated whether I should make you go back there. I rejected this solution because I feared that the fatigue of the journey may neutralize the good I expected from your prolonged stay in the country. At Aix, you will not offer yourself for any religious service whatsoever, you will go out with your companion into the country on either side of the city, as long as the weather is good. However you will avoid the suburb where cholera was brought in this year.
…Good-bye, dear and loving son, I embrace you to prove to you that you need not fear losing what you like to call my good graces, even though I somewhat reproach you; for after all, my good son, you have never sinned except by excess.” (649:IX in Oblate Writings)
What an exquisite moment of healing this morning as Eugene shared his account of dealing with Fr. Casimir.
Fr. Casimir, who was so very far from being perfect and who Eugene needed to speak with over and over again always with tender affection. Like many others in his small congregation Fr. Casimir was a good man, but was he ever wilful. I sort of recognize myself in him.
Despite my early formation in life, God has corrected me and loved me over and over and most endlessly. He has so many times turned me around, set me in the right direction, held my hand, scolded me with a look of tender love showing me the truth of my actions and ways. And here again this morning where he once again speaks to me through Eugene, my beloved Saint and friend, who never stopped loving Fr. Casimir who he would bring him back over and over again – it was a part of being in his community.
I know that I shall never be a full member of the Oblate community for I am not a religious, not a cleric and I am not male. But that has not stopped Eugene from inviting me to be his daughter and it did not stop him from inviting me to live in a most particular way. Nor has it stopped me from learning from him and his, about who I am and how God is working within me. He has given me so many brothers and sisters. It was Eugene’s words that opened for me the possibility of realising sainthood and holiness. This dear beloved saint knew my heart and just as he spoke with Fr. Casimir, he has spoken with me. I am so very grateful – for his love and for speaking with me as he has this morning for it has turned on another light for me.