The day after his ordination to the priesthood, Eugene continued his reflections to his spiritual director.

My letter could not go off yesterday. O my dear Father, there is only love in my heart. I am writing at a time when my heart overflows, to coin an expression of the Apostle’s in a moment like the one I am experiencing. 

Overwhelmed by God’s goodness he is frightened that his faults will make him forget God’s love. The more he experiences God’s love the more realistic he becomes about the danger of his weaknesses and aware of his responsibilities.

If the underlying sorrow for my sins, that is always with me, still persists, it is also true that love has changed its nature. Is it possible, my Beloved, that I could have offended you? How can it be that I offended you, you who at this moment seem to me so wonderful? Can it really be that a heart that loves you as much as mine could bring the smallest frown to your face! And two streams of tears flow with peace and sweetness, and the soul in a state of ravishment it cannot put into words, any more than the other things I am experiencing. I do not know what it is, I do not know how it is. But one thing I see with clarity is that I shall be deserving of hell if ever I deliberately offend against God in his goodness, even in the most venial way.

But it is the healing power of God’s love that overcomes all and sets him free.

 I am a priest! You have to be one to understand what it means. Just to think of it sends me into transports of love and gratitude, and if the thought of my sinfulness recurs, love abounds all the more. “I shall no longer call you servants” [Jn 15,15] etc. “You have freed me from my chains. I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving” [Ps. 115, 16-17] etc. “How can I repay the Lord [for all his goodness to me]”, [Ps. 115, 12] etc., like so many arrows that pierce this heart that has been so cold until this day.

Letter to his spiritual director, Fr. Duclaux, 22 December 1811, O.W. XIV n. 98

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning I find myself weeping a little as I read and experience this. Partly because I missed taking part in the daily inspiration of Eugene and the gentle guidance of God in the few days I was unable to be here. Partly perhaps out of weakness from my being sick, but in truth, more because I can relate in so many ways to Eugene’s sharing of his very soul. It is that truth and love that I find myself responding to, that shared human experience of being loved and of loving God with all that I am, that we are. We hear ourselves being called Beloved and responding as did Eugene with full love. Yet even that word “Beloved” cannot fully express what we feel and receive and give.

    I suspect we are all a little like Eugene in our love for our God. We shall each of us come to a point of giving our all to God – it is something that is ongoing, it simply deepens and intensifies over time. We each come to recognize our weaknesses, our frailties, all of which we are somehow powerless to completely get rid of. Even that is okay, for we know we are beloved, just as we are, as we have been created. Even as I write this I find my heart swelling and my being filled with a gratitude that is impossible to fully and adequately express – for it is not full enough, not perfect enough.

    It is here that I become aware of my lowliness and humanness – not in a bad or lessening way – but in the way that Mary spoke of in the Magnificat – a part of who I have been created to be. It is in that very lowliness that I find myself desiring more, wanting more, ever running towards (not after) more – of God, of God’s infinite tenderness, of oneness with our God.

    Today I find myself rejoicing with Eugene. I have spent the last few days listening to tapes of a recent retreat and reflecting on his great love and life as it was lived out then and now as it is shared with us in our living out his charism. I am realising there is more that I wish to reflect and think on. There is no time line here and so I shall return tomorrow to look at the last paragraph he wrote for this speaks to all of us, religious and lay alike. It is with joy and gratitude then that I face this new day, still weak and totally dependant on everyone and everything outside of myself. My prayer for Advent had been that I learn to “receive” just as Mary received. God answers my prayers in too many ways to write here. And so I shall just sing “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour….”

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