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