Eugene, whose life was totally dedicated to serving others, now came to an important realization: he could only serve others well if he looked after his own welfare. Otherwise he would have nothing to offer to others:
The need was pressing as my spirit is so confined, my heart so empty of God that the exterior cares of my ministry, which throw me into continual dependence on others, preoccupy me to such an extent that I have come to the point of no longer having any of that interiority which previously constituted my consolation and happiness…
Eugene had spent his energy and resources in being selfless towards others, but had ignored his own personal spiritual and physical welfare.
I function as a mere machine in everything that concerns me personally. It seems I am no longer capable of thinking once it touches me personally. In that case what good can I do for others? This way a thousand imperfections creep into my regular relations with my neighbour and make me lose perhaps all the merit of a life entirely consecrated to his service.
At 36 years of age he was learning that he could not be a “young enthusiast” all the time jumping from one project to another. He needed to take care of himself so as to render more effective service to others.
I have good reason to be alarmed at this state of affairs; I’ve been aware of it for some time without being able yet to do anything about it. Today with God’s help I am going to work carefully at it and put such order into my actions that each item may reassume its place and love of neighbour may not be a reason for me to fail in the love I owe myself, all the more since the best means of being really useful to one’s neighbour is without doubt to work much on oneself.
Retreat notes, May 1818, O.W. XV, n. 145