My very dear friend, I arrived this morning at Rome too late to have the happiness of saying holy Mass, although I had remained fasting until two o’clock, after having spent the night stretched out in the carriage hired from the inn of Monterosi, in order to have our coachman leave a little earlier. This is the first day since my departure from Genoa that I have been deprived of this consolation.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 26 November 1825, EO VI n. 208

 Enduring the discomfort of a change in his journey to accommodate the possibility of celebrating Mass, and fasting for 14 hours, showed he serious Eugene had been in his retreat resolution taken 13 years earlier and strictly adhered to ever since:

Mass is unquestionably the most excellent of all the prayers which can be offered to God whether on earth or in heaven itself, that is why I must have for this holy Sacrifice the most loving of devotions, and say it always with the dispositions, and in the sentiments of a heart imbued with a sense of the greatness of the action, and of the frightful poverty of the minister delegated to do it… 
Until such time as someone proves that there exists in this world an action that gives more glory to God, is more advantageous to souls, to the sanctification of the priest, the comforting of our brothers who are suffering in purgatory, I will say Mass every day, and twice a day if it can be done, and would to God that all my life might be spent at this sublime ministry. I would convert more souls by my assiduous service at the altar than by all the sermons I could give.

Rule drawn up on my retreat in Aix, December 1812, EO XV n. 109


“Ministry is the least important thing. You cannot not minister if you are in communion with God and live in community.”    Henri Nouwen

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The liturgy of the Mass, the very pinnacle of our prayer life. In the Mass we come together and we meet Jesus, in each other, in the Word as it is proclaimed and then in the Eucharist, It is fully communal while being at the same time profoundly intimate, personal. It is physical and active, just as we are physical. Bishop Gerry Wiesner OMI said “..we meet God in liturgy ….there is our responding ….our ascension as we bow and sing in gratitude and in love”. I am reminded of the words from the song “You Raise Me Up”: “There is no life – no life without its hunger; Each restless heart beats so imperfectly; But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
    Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity. ….You raise me up… To more than I can be.”

    This morning I have taken the opportunity to simply reflect on all that we are given in the Mass, this ultimate celebration of the love of Jesus and to sit with the joy and gratitude that comes with thoughts of this most precious of the sacraments. It is here that we meet the face of Jesus that we have been seeking. It is here in the Mass where the resurrection that God has done is made present to us. The pinnacle is in the Eucharist where God physically embraces us, where as Ron Rolheiser says; “Its bodily, an embrace, a kiss something shockingly physical…” Is it any wonder that Eugene speaks as he does? Is it any wonder that we go to Mass daily, filled with a need to praise God and a hunger to physically feel the kiss of Jesus, to be embraced before being sent out. This ultimate celebration of God, of God’s love for us, of God within and totally a part of us.

    Could there be a more perfect way to start the day? Our reality is that we must sometimes wait for that hour to come – it is then that we work, fill our day, minister as we must, all in anticipation of what is to come.

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