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