Saint Charles -
Conscription being embodied in the laws of his native country, Father Charles was obliged to submit to a course of military training, and to spend some of his youth in the soldier's uniform.
The training he received while attached to the armyhad a marked influence on his after life. The skill and dexterity and self control then acquired in preparation for battles never to be fought, were useful to him in the lifelong struggle he waged as a good soldier of Christ under the banner o f the Cross.
There was a story current about his soldiering days, that in some disturbance or other when the military were called out and ordered to fire, he, lest he might hurt someone, pointed his rifle the wrong way and narrowly missed shooting his superior Officer.
The story may have had no foundation whatsoever in fact -- probably it had not - but I once heard him chuckle about it.
He laughed neither denied nor affirmed, but as was usual with him, endeavoured to adroitly turn such little pleasantries to spiritual advantage. This he did by telling us of the strict discipline they in the army had to undergo, the deference shown to petty officers, the obedience they were obliged to submit to, looking neither to right hand or to left, and never daring to question even in thought an order given.
Thus did he point to the moral of religious discipline, so mild, so humane, and freely undertaker for the highest and holiest of purposes.
When requested he would lilt or hum, the Dutch National Anthem, beating time the while with his hands. The animation he showed on such occasions bordered on the marvellous for one of his years, attenuated figure, and dispositions .For the moment he was in spirit far away. Borne on its reminiscent strains he crossed the chasm of intervening years and was back main to those days when as a youth tramp, tramp, tramp he marched, with military accoutrement of musket and knapsack, to its soul-stirring strains.
For martial music he seemed to have a particular penchant, the result perhaps of his early training. Whenever military bands passed within earshot, and they did fairly often in those far off days, he was a most attentive listener until them music gradually died away in the distance.Recollections of Fr. Eugene Nevin C.P.