The Missionaries of Provence had the custom of extending a parish mission beyond the planned time if they had not managed to finish hearing everyone’s confessions and preparing them for Communion. In keeping with this custom, in the churches of Aix where Eugene’s Missionaries were preaching, the mission was extended by a week, to accommodate some 900 persons who had not managed to come to the sacraments during the mission itself. The closing was on Sunday April 3, with these people receiving Communion in the morning. The following day Eugene described what happened to the Archbishop, who had been out of Aix at the time.

Sunday was the day set to close the mission. We had prepared the remaining men and a few women for Communion. There was a very great number of these fervent, converted people: there were more than nine hundred. According to our custom, we were supposed to have a procession with the Blessed Sacrament on the same day. 

The joy of Eugene and of the Missionaries of Provence must have been great. They had worked hard to reach out to the “most abandoned” of the area – these were the ones who had needed more care and accompaniment to bring them to celebrate the sacraments. Yet the Cathedral Canons did not see these events in a positive light and they were opposed to this special concluding ceremony a week after the official mission had finished.

The Canons of the Chapter were not concerned about this and, with the intent to oppose it indirectly, changed the time of their Vespers to five o’clock. 
I went to see M. Beylet, the Vicar General; I suggested that we put off the procession to the next day; such was not the view of the Vicar General who advised me to have it at noon.
Even though it was not a good time because of the heat, I counted enough on the zeal of the faithful to expose them to full heat of the burning sun.
The procession took place; but since the Canons had decided to supply nothing, when we were ready to start, we found no vestments, not even candlesticks for the acolytes. We were obliged to send someone successively to bring the dais, copes, chasubles, dalmatics, large candles, candlesticks, albs, censor, etc. from the poor church of the Missionaries. The delay brought on by this disorder kept the procession from starting until two o’clock. The route it was supposed to follow was rather long and there was a considerable number of faithful; in short, we returned rather late, all tired out from the heat. Since I would not have time to finish the closing talk before the Office of the Canons, I preferred to send the faithful away to rest and I announced that the talk and the directives which were to follow would be at the usual time of our exercises.

Letter to Archbishop de Bausset of Aix, 1 May 1820, O.W. XIII n. 28

 How sad it is when we are so focused on the world of our ego that we are unable to recognise the miracles of God around us. Jesus experienced it constantly in the Gospel and continues to experience it today through the lives of his followers.


“Christ died for all people not just the ones you know and like.”    Author unknown

This entry was posted in LETTERS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    We humans are so adept at trying to protect our egos! This writing hit upon a pet peeve of mine. How often have we (each and all of us) set up meetings in our parishes at times of the day or evening which means that families with small children cannot attend, or make it impossible for those who work 9 to 5 jobs to attend? I really notice it when it conflicts with my schedule and although I try to be aware of this, how many times have I perhaps done the same thing?

    In the case of the Canons 200 years ago and people of today I think that it is fear that prods us to perpetuate the practice of trying to make sure that someone else’s actions and plans get scuttled or else fail. We, like people in Eugene’s time, can find very good reasons and justifications to back us up. But I think that a lot of it is fear. Fear that maybe if the other person’s plans and actions are good then ours might be wrong. Fear that if the other person is good then we might be bad, or less than good.

    I remember when I first began to sober up (from alcohol) that a doctor told me that it might help to know that I came from a long line of alcoholics and that perhaps with me it was genetic. Who cares I replied – I am still an alcoholic and blaming anyone is not going to change that or help me. If I make a mistake then I need to own up to it and move on (not always the easiest or nicest thing to have to do) and then look at trying whatever it is a new way – because maybe, just maybe, my way might not be the best or right way, or the only way. Maybe I need to keep looking at myself to see if I am doing the same thing as those early Canons, and wrapping it all up to try and make it look good and just and suit my needs.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Oh how we treat each other! I read this and know that I am guilty of the same thing as the Canons – maybe not in the Church overall, but nevertheless still guilty of it – perhaps with my family, friends, colleagues, members of my parish, other Oblate Associates. That ego of mine – it does keep coming to the forefront and it seems to need so much protection and armour. We often seem to hear words like “we have always done it this way” or perhaps “it’s tradition” or even down to how we will pray, who we will love and how we will do that. Sometimes the rules, traditions and expectations are like the wall that divides Israel and Palestine, or the Berlin wall, or closer to home, the walls around our hearts – they are built high to protect our egos, to protect us from other points of view, to protect us from each other, to keep us in, to control us in many ways.

    I went to Montreal to spend some time with a sculpture called “The Illuminated Crowd”. I spent three days there and visited the sculpture a total of 9 times and each of those times I would sit and reflect and write about my experience of the sculpture for 2 hours or so. Each time I sat with it I saw a different facet of it, and was able to relate it to my life and experiences as well as those I know. It was at times painful and at other times effortless. The sculpture itself was one of those miracles of God that Frank spoke of, as was the artist, as are the people represented, as am I.

    “Jesus experienced it constantly in the Gospel and continues to experience it today through the lives of his followers.” I think of Eugene from whom I first heard about “becoming a saint”, of hearing from one of his sons about being “a Co-operator of the Savior” and the call for me personally to become like that – not to just follow with the crowd this Jesus and his way of living, but to put on that way of living, cross and all.

    “Christ died for all people not just the ones you know and like.” Who are the ones that I don’t know or don’t particularly like? Why is that? I am working at it but find more often that I am thinking of it more and more in terms of perfection. How St. Eugene used that word so often and I begin to understand him and myself a little better. I want, need those walls of the ego to stay down so as to not separate myself from others, from God – we are all connected and a part of each other.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *