PRAY WITH THE MAZENODIAN FAMILY IN JULY

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PRAYING WITH THE MAZENODIAN FAMILY: JULY 2020

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PAUSE

There will be a pause in these reflections until August 3.

A reminder that all the 2319 previously published entries on the writings of Saint Eugene are available for you to consult on the site http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/.

In addition, should you wish to research a word or concept you can do so by using the search engine on the homepage of the site.

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EACH ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO BE LISTENED TO BY THEIR PASTOR

I locked myself into my office to clear my desk. These audiences every day take all of my time. Nevertheless, they are necessary. It is the duty of a bishop to make himself available to all his flock. I have the satisfaction of seeing everybody satisfied with the way they have been received when they leave. I must give advice and help, each one has the right to be listened to by their pastor.

The ”audiences” that Bishop Eugene refers to was a period of four hours from 10 am to 2 pm each day when he was present to receive people in his office. Everyone was always welcome and there were no appointments – people just waited one after the other.

Barthélemy des Martyrs [ed. One of the outstanding episcopal figures of the 16th century] devoted more time to audiences than I do and it does not seem to have been time wasted. It would be possible to spend it more pleasantly, but that does not matter as long as I am doing my duty. We must not lose sight of that beautiful text from St. Paul: Because we are your servants for the sake of Jesus [ed. 2 Corinthians 4:5]. With that in mind it is possible to put up with every discomfort and every pain.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 8 September 1838, EO XIX

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FOLKLORE AND WORSHIP

Confirmation in my chapel as on every Monday. Visit of the ox for the Corpus Christi procession. It was intended to bring the animal up to the great hall. The people had invaded the bishop’s residence. I was obliged to do the honors for such a beautiful visit. Everybody showed great interest. They vied with one another to say the most flattering things: Noustre bel evesque nos fas tant de plaisir de lou voire etc. (Ed. Provencal: “Our nice bishop gives us such pleasure to see him)

For many years the Butcher’s Corporation of Marseilles had made an ox part of the Corpus Christi procession. Originally the reason was to recall the animals used in the Temple sacrifices of Israel. In Provence it had become part of folklore with a flower-covered ox, a little boy dressed as John the Baptist riding on its back, and butchers in costumes accompanying it. Because it was important for the people, Eugene initially allowed it to continue, but was later to stop this practice as it its inclusion turned the focus away from honoring the Blessed Sacrament.

He wryly concluded his journal entry:

Five Francs to little Jean-Baptiste, 10 Francs to the noble butchers, dressed in Henry IV costumes, apart from the cloak. A present to the man leading the victim. Thus everything ends up in money.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 11 June 1838, EO XIX

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THIS TIME I CAN SAY THAT I HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED. MAY IT REALLY HAVE BEEN ON MY SAVIOUR’S CROSS!

Eugene was no stranger to opposition and to being publicly condemned for political or ecclesiastical reasons. His personal moral behavior had never been doubted or questioned, so this first public calumny cut deeply into him.

I was careful to try and understand all those who persecute me with such vengeful anger, because I pardon them with all my heart. If it were not for the resulting scandal, I think the good God would give me the grace to go and thank him for the humiliation which weighs upon me and which the Cross my Saviour bore to Calvary helps me to bear.

That is sufficient for Good Friday! This time I can say that I have been crucified. May it really have been on my Saviour’s Cross! That sweetens all the bitterness.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 13 April 1838, EO XIX

Because the unfounded accusation made against Bishop Eugene had caused such a public controversy, the person involved was found guilty and sent to prison. Five years later, on his deathbed, he wrote to the bishop acknowledging that all his calumnies had been false and begging Eugene’s forgiveness and prayers.

 

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice,  and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”   

(Ephesians 4:31-32)

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LET US THANK THE LORD WHO HAS HAD ME SHARE ABUNDANTLY IN THE BITTERNESS OF HIS PASSION THIS YEAR

A Good Friday to remember! Thirty years earlier Eugene had received the grace of experiencing the meaning of the Cross in his life. Now in 1838, he had been publicly slandered by a former domestic servant – who was later to admit that his words had been invented. Seizing on this public event, some who were hostile to the Church in Marseilles were about to print a booklet on Good Friday to frame the bishop in an even worse light.

Eugene had wanted to spend Good Friday meditating peacefully at the foot of the Cross – but the Savior had other plans for him to experience the Cross in a more holistic way.

April 13: Good Friday. Why should such holy days be troubled and my soul, which would like to remain in meditation at the foot of the Cross, be diverted from the only thing that should occupy my mind and my heart? The reason is that evil people are on the lookout today as they were in time of our divine Saviour. Let us thank the Lord who has had me share abundantly in the bitterness of his Passion this year. It is up to me to profit by it.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 13 April 1838, EO XIX

“I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:19-20)

“ Not that I have . . . already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians. 3:12).

As followers of Jesus, Eugene and Paul encourage us on our daily journey – as difficult as it may be.

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I PRAY GOD THAT HE MAKE ME BEAR WITH INNER RESIGNATION THIS NEW KIND OF HUMILIATION

The repeated bad behavior of one of Eugene’s domestic employees had led to him being dismissed.  In revenge he ambushed the bishop at a public celebration in a church and made  malicious and slanderous accusations about him in front of a packed congregation.

It was not an April fool trick that was awaiting me at Roquevaire, but the greatest outrage I have received in my life.

The man became violent and was taken into police custody while the shaken Eugene had to continue with the ceremony.

As for me, I had to complete the ceremony by celebrating the sacred mysteries. Sitting there before the altar, while the cloths and candlesticks were being placed upon it, I asked myself if my emotions were such that I should abstain from approaching the altar. I confess that I felt so calm, so little disturbed, in a word, less moved, than I would certainly have been if I had witnessed such a thing happening to another.

I considered the thoughts in my heart. Evidently, God’s grace was helping me at that moment. I was not aware of any sentiment of hatred in my mind, or of any feeling of revenge, however justified it might have been. I felt that, in all sincerity, I could pray for this wicked man and I got up to begin the holy Mass. I had the happiness of being able to continue in this frame of mind and, with God’s help, I was able to speak twice to the numerous assembly without showing the slightest change in my appearance.

Scarcely had I returned to the presbytery than everyone came to express their regret at what had happened… The fact that I could remain so unperturbed remains a miracle in my eyes. I pray God that He make me bear with inner resignation this new kind of humiliation.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 1 April 1838, EO XIX

“It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.”  Romans 8: 16 – 18

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MY TWO FAMILIES

I visited the new cemetery in Aix where I would like to build a chapel to place the venerable remains of my two families…

 I would authorize that they publicize all the dead whom they bury in this cemetery and that they celebrate Mass whenever their devotion inspires them to, in the confidence that the souls of our loved ones will benefit.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 21 February 1838, EO XIX

From childhood, Eugene had loved his family: “I have not changed over the years. I idolize my family. “I would let myself be cut up into little pieces for some members of my family.”

From 1816 onwards the Oblates also became his family, which he wanted to “be the most united family in the whole world.”

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.” (Romans 8, 28-29)

 

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THEY REFRESHED MY SPIRIT

In 1813 Eugene had started a congregation of youth in Aix that had had much success. Twenty five years later he was delighted to receive a letter from two former members: Fr Leblanc (who was now a diocesan priest in Paris) who had recently met Adrien Chappuis (who was now an advocate in Paris) and had “chatted a lot about our father and common benefactor. Believe us that the memories of our past relations are so precious after so many years that they are still alive in our hearts.”

The three-page letter is full of fine feelings. “You are today,” this dear child tells me, “what you have been at all times in your ministry, as I observed you when I had the happiness of always being around you, who knew so well how to reconcile the kindness of charity with attention to duty.”

This recognition is very dear to me. It comes from a good priest whom I esteem to the extent that I have always loved him and that goes back to the first years of my ministry when this good Leblanc was among the most fervent disciples of my beautiful congregation of Christian youth, of which he was one of the first members,

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 18 February 1838, EO XIX

Eugene echoes sentiments of Paul’s last lines in his First letter to the Corinthians 16:15-18), when he refers to people who have served in the community :

“they have devoted themselves to the service of the holy ones—be subordinate to such people and to everyone who works and toils with them. 

 I rejoice in the arrival of … because they made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. So give recognition to such people.”

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