In December 1814 Eugene did a private retreat, at one of the most significant moments of his life. He had touched death and had been left physically weakened by the illness, and was now discerning the future direction that his ministry should take. For this retreat he followed the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
How badly I needed this retreat! I seem to have forgotten this maxim of the author of the Imitation.
It is evident to me that in working for others. I have been too forgetful of myself. This retreat will be particularly aimed at making good the resulting harm to my soul and at taking wise measures to avoid this abuse in the future. The prisoners of war, the illness they gave me, the foundation, the promotion of the youth congregation, all have played their part this year to take me out of myself, and the cares that these works have necessarily entailed, the difficulties that had to be overcome, the obstacles, the oppositions that it has been necessary to combat have been the reason that I have quite lost the interior spirit, so that I have often acted on the purely human level, and very imperfectly at that.
Instead of placing all my trust in prayer for the success of the good I wanted to do, how many times have I not had recourse to other weapons? Did not my self-love, wounded when I met with obstacles, lead me to commit many faults, grumbling, poking fun, showing contempt towards people who doubtless were in the wrong for not supporting me but even so were deserving of respect on account of their [ed. priestly] character.
Retreat Journal, December 1814, O.W. XV n.130
Fr Yvon Beaudoin comments: