After our in-depth exploration of the Youth Congregation, I now continue with the writings of St Eugene in chronological order.
The second part of 1817 had been demanding for Eugene, who had spent 5 months in Paris trying to assure the future of his Missionaries. Significantly in this regard, the name of his uncle Fortuné de Mazenod had been put forward and accepted as Bishop of Marseille. In December Eugene’s father and uncles returned to France and settled in the city of Marseille, while Fortuné came to live with the Missionaries in Aix as a result of complications regarding his appointment as bishop.
Eugene’s return to Aix saw him immersed in many activities. During the first half of 1818 his energies were spent in directing the Missionaries and their ministry, forming the young men who were training to become Missionaries, the demanding activities of his expanding Youth Congregation, the services in the Church of the Mission, and many administrative tasks. For this reason he took a pause in May 1818 to do a retreat and to take stock of where his life was going.
It was high time I thought of extricating myself from that innumerable throng of tasks of every kind that overwhelms me spiritually and physically and came on retreat to apply myself seriously in the matter of my salvation by carefully going over all my actions…
Retreat notes, May 1818, O.W. XV, n. 145
Throughout his life, Eugene taught the importance of stopping to take stock, to reflect on what is happening in and around us: at daily, monthly and annual intervals – and to react accordingly. Our Oblate Rule of Life accentuates this:
To put ourselves increasingly at the service of God in his people, we will set aside special times each month and each year for deeper personal and community prayer, for reflection and renewal. Constitution 35
Examination of conscience is important in helping us become aware of the ways in which the Lord calls and is present to us throughout the day. In this examen, we evaluate the faithfulness of our response to him. Constitution 33
I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. Thomas Paine