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