Working in preparation for his meeting with the Pope, Eugene describes his meeting with the Cardinal Secretary of State (basically the Pope’s second-in-command), whom he had met during the Pope’s imprisonment by Napoleon in Paris. It became an opportunity to recall Eugene’s involvement in that dangerous political situation when he had been a seminarian.
The Cardinal Dean, Secretary of State, sent to inform me that he would receive me at nine o’clock. I was there at the Vatican on time and had the honor of offering him my respects. His Eminence received me very kindly with amiable politeness, but he had completely forgotten me and all that I had done for the cardinals at Paris during their exile. I had to remind him that I had often gone to his house, had sometimes even taken meals there, that I had presented him with the Vie de la vénérable Agnes (bound at my expense). At that time we were catechists at the Major Catechetical Program of Saint Sulpice. I served him when he came to say Mass at the German chapel. I was designated to find out from him, Cardinal Della Somaglia, the needs of the cardinals at the fatal moment of their disgrace. I recalled to him that he had replied that he would need nothing for two years but had pointed out those who would have need of help. So many things have happened since then that a person could easily have forgotten past events.
Eugene is clearly disappointed that the Cardinal did not remember him, but it becomes the opportunity to remind himself that it is God who has to be served in all things
The Cardinal was no less polite; but, on my part, I reflected that it would be very foolish to do good in order to gain a good reputation among men. God alone knows how to reward what we have done for him. So, we must do everything to please him.
Roman Diary, 10 December 1825, EO XVII
“Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10