Writing to Marius Suzanne, Eugene described his personal suffering as he accompanied his 12 year-old niece towards her death.

Oh! I would wish you to be beside me in the sadness in which I find myself! It grows every day since my arrival; although I never had any illusion about the state of this poor child, I nevertheless could not prevent myself hoping in the saints who were being invoked with so much fervor on her behalf God, to whom alone it belongs to know what is useful to his creatures, has judged otherwise than our wishes would have desired.
The fate of the child is only too obvious; but it is distressing and beyond my strength to see her slowly dying. Her patience and sweetness are admirable and would render her endearing even to wild beasts; but she suffers much…
That is where we are now. As for me, I cannot stand it. I go, I come, I want to be beside her; when I am with her, I cannot remain. The child and her mother, who has prodigious strength and courage, pierce my heart each in turn through and through. Yet I do not heed myself. I had baptized this loveable child, it is I who have administered her; I have given her holy viaticum and extreme unction. Who could have told me that on the day of her baptism? It is against nature, this poor nature that is laid low.

Letter to Marius Suzanne, 25 June 1825, EO VI n 188


“God never gives strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the minute.” Oswald Chambers

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I find myself looking at Eugene and his very normal suffering as a child that he loves so dearly is dying. There is no pretense here, simply his suffering. He prays for her, he gives her the sacraments and all that he can do is to be there with her. Eugene is so very honest as he shares his desire to be with this child and how at the same time he wants only to run from her suffering and his own.

    Sometimes it could almost be easy to forget just how human St. Eugene was. Looking at his passion and strength and ways of working through so many struggles particularly with his community and with the church. All the great things that he did and accomplished in life because of the great love that he shared. This was yet another struggle and pain to endure and walk through.

    This speaks to me this morning in ways that I had not expected. There was little that Eugene could do other than to simply be there and pray. Sometimes that is all we can do. We can’t “fix” anything, only be there and pray.

  2. John Mouck says:

    I think most of my praying is done in a spirit of selfishness. It is easy to say those words we know but so hard to really feel them, “And yet not my will but Yours be done.”
    Over the years, I have prayed so hard for things (for myself and for others) only to be disappointed at that time. Then, possibly years later, something will happen in my life that is far greater than I could ever have imagined and I look back and I can see why things had to unfold as they did back then.
    I have come to know that He does listen and He always answers. It’s me that doesn’t/can’t see His big plan.
    So I still pray selfishly. I suppose He stands beside me, arm around my shoulder, shaking his head, thinking, “Oh John, my poor child, just wait and see what I have in store.”

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