Despite all their ministry engagements, Eugene always insisted that the Missionaries come together to celebrate the Easter mysteries as a family in their communities. Being in Paris, this was the first time in 7 years that he was not with his community in Aix for these ceremonies, and he wrote on Holy Thursday:

My heart was sad, my dear Courtès, as I came back from the church where I had just offered the Mass with people I did not know, in a somewhat alien land, so to speak, far from you from whom I have never been separated on this memorable day. Yes, it is the first time since our coming together that I have not celebrated Easter with my brothers. I am inconsolable over this immense privation. To soften my grief, I said Mass quite close to the time that I knew you would be assembled, Dominicam Coenam manducare [ed. “To eat the Lord’s Supper”]

Being away, he resorted to his usual means of being united with his religious family in prayer: oraison

But, although in the presence of the same Lord, my heart felt all the weight of the distance which separates us and while, thanks to the arrangement I had made, we were celebrating at the same time the same mysteries, we nevertheless did not celebrate together and my isolation in such a circumstance wrenched sighs from me even at the altar, seeing that I was not surrounded by my excellent and beloved family.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 27 March 1823, EO VI n 98


“The deepest of level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless … beyond speech … beyond concept.”      Thomas Merton

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What a wonderful way to start the day and the week. To listen as Eugene shares his love of his family. I have heard the term ‘exile’ being used to describe Eugene’s time when away from his family, particularly when he was in Marseille – but it certainly applies here. I remember when I first heard it I thought; “get real – it’s not like he was on the other side of the earth”. I know – I am learning.

    But I understand also the truth of what he was writing to Hippolyte. For years I would not take my holidays away at Easter – because I so much wanted and needed to celebrate Holy Week and in particular the Triduum with my community. And now I try to ensure that I am with my community, my BOC, my family for the special Feast Days. And even when we travel – we enter a church to celebrate the Eucharist, but it is not quite the same for we miss being there with those we know and love, with our family.

    We become, in and through God, a part of each other. I look at what I have written and for me it is important to stress “in and through God” for that is what makes it possible, that is what makes it real and more than just a desire on my part, that is where it has been initiated and for me I just come to what God has drawn me to and instilled within me. Hearts afire, love, connectedness – as in that illustration with Jesus in the centre – He is the initiator connecting us all to him, it is through Him and then to each other, back and forth.

    Oraison – being in communion with. Thomas Merton wrote “The deepest of level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless … beyond speech … beyond concept.” I call it a state of being. It is at our deepest and truest level, here it is that we find the divine, this is where we enter into communion. Undescribible, unthinkable, undoable. Is this perhaps a part of ‘heaven on earth’? I am unable to find words to explain or define this communion and yet I know it intimately within me. It is simply where we are – being.

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