SAINT EUGENE, THE PRIEST WHO AIMED TO LOVE WITH THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST  – IN HIS OWN WORDS

Impelled by a force from outside of himself, Eugene left Aix and followed:

The vocation that called me to dedicate myself to the service and happiness of my neighbour, whom I loved with the love of Jesus Christ for people.

Diary, 31 March 1839, E.O. XX

1808 Seminarian in Saint Sulpice, Paris:

I dedicated myself to the service of the Church because it was persecuted, and because it had been abandoned.

Letter to his father, 7 December 1814, E.O. XV n, 129

21 December 1811, ordination to the priesthood in Amiens:

You, you alone will be the sole object to which will tend all my affections and my every action. To please you, act for your glory, will be my daily task, the task of every moment of my life. I wish to live only for you, I wish to love you alone and all else in you and through you. I despise riches, I trample honours under foot; you are my all, replacing all else. My God, my love and my all: Deus meus et omnia.

Notes made during the retreat in preparation for priestly ordination, December 1-21, E.O. XIV n.95

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SAINT EUGENE, TRANSFORMED BY HIS ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS CHRIST – IN HIS OWN WORDS

Around the age of 24 Eugene entered a period of self-searching, a journey that reached a high-point one Good Friday:

So I had looked for happiness outside of God, and outside him I found but affliction and chagrin. Blessed, a thousand times blessed, that he, this good Father, notwithstanding my unworthiness, lavished on me all the richness of his mercy.

Let me at least make up for lost time by redoubling my love for him. May all my actions, thoughts, etc., be directed to that end.

What more glorious occupation than to act in everything and for everything only for God, to love him above all else, to love him all the more as one who has loved him too late.

Retreat Journal, December 1814, E.O. XV n.130

For further details, see Alfred Hubenig and René Motte: “Living in the Spirit’s Fire” pages 30 – 35 in https://www.omiworld.org/wp-content/uploads/Living-in-the-Spirits-Fire.pdf

 

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SAINT EUGENE, A LOST YOUNG MAN – IN HIS OWN WORDS

1802 – At the insistence of his mother, Eugene returned to France at the age of 20. His mother had divorced his father in order to regain the family wealth from the Revolutionary authorities who had confiscated the properties of the nobility.

Eugene threw himself into the lifestyle of a young nobleman. He had no sense of direction and one finds him alternating between a life of pleasure and a life of boredom with no future prospects.

There is not a single girl who suits me in Aix… And above all, the one I want must be very rich, and that is difficult to find.

Letter to his father, 10 May 1804, Mejanes Library Aix

How can one have enough of the pleasures that the charming city of Aix presents me with?

Letter to his father, 27 January 1804, Mejanes Library Aix

Take all that into account, and you will see that one could die of pleasure in Aix.

Letter to his father, 18 January 1805, Mejanes Library Aix

It has to be said, this repugnance is also due to the fact that it is not in my character to spend my life planting cabbages. I have the feeling that I am not where I should be, and I get angry when I see the best years of my life draining away in idle obscurity. You can judge yourself if I should be bright and cheerful when you know that these thoughts go round and round in my head whenever I am alone..

Letter to his father, 12 April 1804, Mejanes Library Aix

He was ready for God’s intervention in his life!

For further details see: For further details, see Alfred Hubenig and René Motte: “Living in the Spirit’s Fire” pages 25-29 in  https://www.omiworld.org/wp-content/uploads/Living-in-the-Spirits-Fire.pdf

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EUGENE, THE YOUNG NOBLEMAN IN EXILE – IN HIS OWN WORDS

1791 – beginning of 11 years of emigration in Nice, Turin, Venice, Naples and Palermo – years of flight and fear and changing fortunes.

ESCAPE TO NICE

“As he had been declared under arrest by the revolutionaries, on his return from his mission to the Estates General, my father left France and went to Nice and soon from there he sent me his brother to bring me to him …

There really must have been a genuine fear of the threat made to do away with the children of the nobility, for my mother to have consented to let me undertake this journey even before I had quite got over an illness that had taken a lot out of me…

I was not yet nine years old. All I could do was to keep the secret as a grown-up would have done. This was enjoined upon me, and faithfully observed…

VENICE

One day I was amusing myself at the window that gave on to the house of the Zinelli family opposite. D. Bartolo appeared on his side, and addressing me said: “Master Eugene, aren’t you afraid of wasting your time in idleness in this way at the window?” – “Alas, sir, I replied, it is indeed a pity, but what can I do? You know I am a foreigner, and I haven’t any books at my disposition.” That was the opening he wanted: “That’s no problem, my dear child, you see me here actually in my library, where there are many books in Latin, Italian, French even, if you want them.”

“There is nothing I would like better”, I answered. Immediately D. Bartolo undid the bar that held the shutters of the window, and placing on it a book, passed it over to me across the little street that separated us. .. From this time on, every day over a period of four years, I went after Mass to be with these most benevolent teachers …

His mother and sister returned to France, and his parents divorced – all Eugene’s efforts to reunite his parents were in vain

NAPLES

My stay in Naples, was for me an oppressive year of very gloomy monotony…

PALERMO

Providence, which has always watched over me since my youngest years as an infant, gave me entry into a Sicilian family, in which I was accepted from the first as a child of the house. This was the family of the Duke of Cannizzaro… From this time until my return to France, I was one of the family: my place was always set at their table; I followed them to the country in the summer, and everything in the house was at my service as it was for their own children, who considered themselves my brothers.”

Diary of the exile in Italy (1791-1802), E.O. XVI

For further details, see Alfred Hubenig and René Motte: “Living in the Spirit’s Fire” pages 12 – 24 https://www.omiworld.org/wp-content/uploads/Living-in-the-Spirits-Fire.pdf

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JOIN THE MAZENODIAN FAMILY IN PRAYER TODAY

LINK: https://youtu.be/PrN6U2lu_b4

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INVITATION TO OUR MONTHLY ORAISON WITH THE MAZENODIAN FAMILY

Invitation to our monthly oraison with the Mazenodian Family.

More info at https://tiny.cc/oraison

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EUGENE THE CHILD – IN HIS OWN WORDS

This series of daily reflections on the writings of St Eugene de Mazenod has been going since May 2010. In just over ten years, we have covered the period of his writings until 1839. It is good to pause, from time to time, to get our compass bearings.

So, for the next couple of weeks I will republish a series recalling the basic points of his life, using his own words.

Charles Joseph Eugene de Mazenod was born on 1 August 1782 – birth in Aix en Provence. Son of Charles Antoine de Mazenod, President of the Court of Accounts, and of Marie Rose Joannis, he had a great love for 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, and that stretches out to quite a long way for I would give my life without hesitation for my father, mother, grandmother, my sister and my father’s two brothers.

Generally speaking I love with passion everybody I believe loves me, but theirs must be a passionate love too.

So gratitude is the final constituent that goes to make up my heart’s passion.

Self-evaluation written for his spiritual director in 1808, EO XIV n. 30

He recalls his childhood years, in which we recognize traits that he would show throughout his life.

It is hard to understand, given the portrait of myself I have just painted, how sensitive a heart I have, overly so in fact. It would take too long to give you all the stories of my childhood traits I have had related to me and which are really rather surprising.

It was quite normal for me to give away my breakfast even when I was hungry to satisfy the hunger of the poor, I used to bring firewood to people who complained of the cold and of not being able to afford to buy it, on one occasion I went as far as to give away the clothes off my back to clothe a poor person, and many, many other stories in the same vein.

Self-evaluation written for his spiritual director in 1808, O.W. XIV n. 30

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THE DEATH OF OUR BELOVED BROTHER WAS THAT OF A SAINT

On May 20, Eugene wrote in his diary: 

But what deep sorrow to learn that Fr. Albini is again in danger. I do not know what to think. After the miracle of his first healing, a new imminent danger. What to do? Try a new forceful appeal to the Lord? The soul is oppressed, the heart torn.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 20 May 1839, EO XX

Father Albini had always been considered a living saint.  When his death was announced to Eugene, he noted in his personal diary: 

I should invoke our venerable Fr. Albini rather than pray for him. This is also what I did not fail to do. Nevertheless, this morning I carried out the sacred duty of offering the Holy Sacrifice for him, which I will do again tomorrow and the day after.

…The death of our beloved brother was that of a saint. He is one more blessed to add to the community of the Congregation that is in heaven. Great God, how large it already is and what subjects have been taken from us! Surprisingly, I feel more resigned than I had expected. I have no doubt this is through the intercession of our holy brother. May he also have pity on the country that was his, and that waited for its conversion through his ministry.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 27 May 1839, EO XX

The beatification cause of Venerable Albini is ready and awaiting a miracle through his intercession.
See: https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/albini-charles-dominique/

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SHE WAS A MOTHER TO ME ALL THE WHILE I STAYED IN SICILY

Eugene’s diary entry for 1 May 1839 recalls an event that had happened 37 years earlier and which he recalled every year.

May 1: I said Mass as is my custom for the Duchess of Cannizzaro who died on this day. She was a mother to me all the while I stayed in Sicily.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 1 May 1839, EO XX

The Duchess of Cannizzaro was Eugene’s adoptive mother in Palermo. She was generous to the poor, and Eugene helped her to distribute alms to the needy. At that time he had written:

I experienced it indeed at her death [which took place May 1, 1802] when everyone could judge that my grief was incomparably more painful and deeply felt than that of her own sons. The Princess, whom I so rightly called my mother, was suddenly taken from us. The blow was cruel and the wound deep. I felt it for a long time; it even made me ill. They say that when I saw her lifeless body, I prostrated myself at the foot of her bed issuing a number of times this wrenching cry: “I have lost my mother! I have lost my mother!” 

Diary of the Exile in Italy, EO XVI

It had been the young Eugene’s first close encounter with the death of someone he was emotionally attached to. From it he would learn to be understanding of death and grief in the future. His reaction was intense and we will see how deeply the death of loved ones would affect him in the future.

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THE INABILITY TO REACH SUCH A GREAT NUMBER OF SOULS LIKE THEM CAUSES ME GREAT PAIN AND SORROW

Yesterday, we read Eugene de Mazenod’s description of how edified he was being with the contemplative Sisters. The entry continues:

I returned home filled with these sweet thoughts.

On the way I met some poor unfortunates who were certainly not walking in the presence of God. This contrast produced in my soul a movement of indignation and disgust that I cannot express. 

Seeing these nocturnal persons, the most abandoned in his understanding because they were so far from Jesus Christ, he experienced his helplessness in being able to help them.

The inability to reach such a great number of souls like them, the pain of seeing them loosing themselves without being able to do anything to turn them away from vice and help them save themselves, causes me great pain and sorrow to be the pastor of a flock of which so many sheep are estranged from their bishop. One could say of them: “They do not belong to this fold.” (ed. Jn 10:16). It is because they no longer belong to Jesus Christ. I only have prayer; I have no other way to fulfill my duty towards them.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 22 April 1839, EO XX

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