Eugene’s overriding concern was always to be “all for God” at the service of others. It is in this light that we must read his retreat notes. They are not an opportunity for self-whipping and for proclaiming how great a sinner he is – but an occasion to improve the quality of his life in order to be more fully at the service of God and neighbour.

 God forbid that I would want to give up the service of neighbour! Far from it! I would like, if it were possible, to do still more for him than I have done until now, since without doubt the Lord is glorified by it, precisely as it pleases Him to be more so, but I will be better advised, and in serving my neighbour 

True service of neighbour was only possible to the extent that Eugene lived in communion with God, and was able to invite others to participate in this communion.

I will no longer forget myself as I have done; I will not persuade myself so easily that the exercise of charity towards him can take the place of everything, serve as my meditation, preparation, thanksgiving, visit to the Blessed Sacrament, prayer, etc. That is an excess that threw me into the state I saw myself in yesterday.
It will not be an easy thing to change. God knows that if I give myself up to exterior works, there is more of duty than of liking in it, it is obeying what I believe the Master demands of me; that is so true that I always do it with an extreme repugnance from my lower nature. If I followed my taste, I would attend solely to myself and content myself with praying for others. I would spend my life in study and prayer.
But who am I to have a will of my own in this respect? It belongs to the Father of the Family to fix the kind of work it pleases him to have his workers do. They are always too honoured and too happy to be chosen to cultivate his vineyard.

The zealous Eugene realizes that his temptation is towards losing himself in excessive action, and so resolves:

The essential thing is to combine things in such wise that nothing suffers, and that in service of neighbour I do not forget myself to the point of becoming lukewarm.

Retreat notes, May 1818, O.W. XV, n. 145

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  1. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    As I read this I have to remember this is the young Eugene that is speak. It is 1818 and the world is before him. What a amazing time it is/it was. Eugene though he survived through the epidemic of 1814 with the help and prayers of the Youth Community and formed a small society of Priest and latter Brothers who would live and minister together; Eugene seemed to be the reflection of leader “living in the first half of life” where the “ego” take the helm and is feed by doing good thing (this is essential). And though he would say and I would also “For the Glory of God”, we are often living in the illusion of self grandeur. Yet after repeated burn and retreats to the mountains he entered into the “second half of life”. Merton says this well, when “You do not need your “visions” anymore; you are happily participating in God’s vision for you”

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I love this posting, even more than I did a year ago. Jack speaks of the first and 2nd halves of life, which is so very true, and I look at Eugene and he appears to be in the “honeymoon” part of his lifelong love affair with God. I believe there is that part of us which always is able to move back and forth from one area to another – be it to and from 1st and 2nd halves of our lives, or from courtship through honeymoon through lifelong lived love and communion with. It seems to be for me at least not quite so bound with time. Eugene was passionate when he was young and was more so as he lived and experienced life – I believe his passion and love of God simply deepened and widened, a little “quieter” perhaps but still there – sort of how fire purifies and simply burns stronger as it burns deeper.

    The freedom of Sundays – I like what Frank has said about it being an “….occasion to improve the quality of his life….” For me, for my life I need always to look at what I have done and not done, not to “whip” myself, but just to see, with truth who I am. Who am I in the eyes of God? We’re not talking perfection here! The bald truth of it though is that without God I am nothing, for I see myself only as reflected in God’s eyes, God’s love. I play around with that sometimes – sort of like walking to the edge of a deep canyon and looking over the edge, but always moving back to the centre, to the heart of God.

    “True service of neighbour was only possible to the extent that Eugene lived in communion with God, and was able to invite others to participate in this communion.” I have come to realise that my life, who I am and how I act is a direct reflection on my life with God, it shows in my attitudes, my interactions, even my prayer life. The temptation sometimes is to “tell” God how I am doing. Like God does not know! A little bit of ego goes a long way. I awoke this morning remembering how I “was” a couple of months ago – open, vulnerable, real. I think of my prayer last night as I told God that right now I seem to be incapable of “doing” anything to move into his embrace, I am only able to desire it, to ask for it. All of it will come, but only with God, becoming one with God, being in communion with God, and so everyone else. There is in that great joy – great joy and tremendous freedom.

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