As he begins his retreat, Eugene intends to make an exacting examination of his life and behaviour. It is interesting that he wants to do this through the eyes of hope – through the lens of what God’s love holds for him.
Sweet hope have you abandoned me? What will become of me if you do not sustain my faith, and moderate what it teaches me of the demands of my God’s Justice? Come back to me, come back, and be forever my faithful companion
in the exacting examination I am going to carry out of my numberless infidelities,
in the reflections to which I am going to make during this retreat on the sacred duties of my state,
the awesome functions entrusted to me,
the demanding account the Sovereign Judge will call for of my stewardship.
Retreat notes, May 1824, EO XV n. 156
He approaches this retreat not with a spirit of morbid and guilt-ridden condemnation but in a spirit of confident optimism in God’s love which calls him to do better.
“We too are called to withdraw at certain intervals into deeper silence and aloneness with God…. not with our books, thoughts, and memories but completely stripped of everything, to dwell lovingly in God’s presence – silent, empty, expectant, and motionless.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta