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

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “…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.” That statement alone speaks volumes – it speaks of a deep and trusting relationship, one not ruled by judgement and measuring, of having to earn worthiness. When I look out through the eyes of love, throught the eyes of Jesus, my savior, everything changes, I see what is with love, with compassion and truth. So it is when I look at myself, through the eyes of my Lord, it is all there. Like Eugene I cannot do it alone, I don’t even want to try that route again because I’ve been down that road before and it leads to nowhere.

    And rather than being judged and found wanting (thats what I tend to do on my own to myself), rather than being ‘measured’ against some kind of marker of good’s and bads I am/we are “called to do better”. We are invited to step out ourselves, with the grace of confidence that comes only with the infinite and tender love of God who beckons and says “come”, “come love with me; come love through me; come love in me.

    Perhaps that is why we take the time and space that Mother Theresa speaks of; “aloneness with God …. stripped of everything to dwell lovingly in God’s presence …. silent, empty, naked, expectant, still”. Not always comfortable or easy to do, but it is an invitation impossible to resist.

    It begins here, now – with hope, with trust, with yearning, with confidence. I thank you God for bringing me to this time and place. Give me the grace to empty myself so as to make room in this vessel, this self, for that deepest part of me which you are.

  2. John Mouck says:


    I see here a man entering into a process that many of us remember all too well:
    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
    of our wrongs.
    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

    We know how difficult step 4 in particular is. I see here Eugene entering into this like all of us – full of fear and regret.
    Hope? Yes, hope that this is “the way” and Jesus is making this journey with him/us.

  3. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    It is good to see the thoughts/prayers of my sister and brother above.
    Thank you John for finding alignment with Eugene and the Steps. There is a conference in this somewhere.
    As I look at hope, though I see a light at the end of the tunnel, I still have to put one step in front of the other in darkness, not knowing if there is firm ground for me, but doing so none the less. And so for Eugene hope is to be found in God’s Mercy/Chesed (heb. everlasting loving kindness).
    Mother Theresa’s quote seem to me to be the definition of contemplative prayer. For it is the thoughts and memories that causes my mind to be like that of a monkey jumping from one branch to another. To let it go, to let is all go. Is that not the naked “suffering servant on the tree”? Mk 15:33-37

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