(On the occasion of the Oblate novena – May 21 to May 29 – I am going to re-publish the entries that I had prepared two years ago on various aspects of the life of Eugene de Mazenod. This daily reflection has a much larger following now and I think it worthwhile to remind our readers of the key elements of Eugene’s life and their significance.)

1 August 1782 – birth in Aix en Provence. Son of Charles Antoine de Mazenod, President of the Court of Accounts, and of Marie Rose Joannis.

I have not changed over the years. I idolize my family.I would let myself be cut up into little pieces for some members of my family, and that stretches out to quite a long way for I would give my life without hesitation for my father, mother, grandmother, my sister and my father’s two brothers.

Generally speaking I love with passion everybody I believe loves me, but theirs must be a passionate love too.So gratitude is the final constituent that goes to make up my heart’s passion.

Self-evaluation written for his spiritual director in 1808, O.W. XIV n. 30

It is hard to understand, given the portrait of myself I have just painted, how sensitive a heart I have, overly so in fact. It would take too long to give you all the stories of my childhood traits I have had related to me and which are really rather surprising.

It was quite normal for me to give away my breakfast even when I was hungry to satisfy the hunger of the poor, I used to bring firewood to people who complained of the cold and of not being able to afford to buy it, on one occasion I went as far as to give away the clothes off my back to clothe a poor person, and many, many other stories in the same vein.

Self-evaluation written for his spiritual director in 1808, O.W. XIV n. 30

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Dearest Eugene, we are gathered here in Arnprior for “Renewing Our Life and Our Mission” and this morning we have the opportunity to reflect on you and your life, on our own lives as lived out in the charism. So often when looking back, the horror and violence tend to colour everything in those shades and to hide the normal and the good from being readily seen. Yet people told you, reminded you, of your heart which never basically changed as you grew up, but simply expanded. I look out over the river and in the distant sky there is a band of pink in between the clouds which grows across the length of the river and begins to to widen and shade the clouds above and below it, affecting and changing all around it. Affecting even the the reflection of the rivers water so that it grows and affects all around it. It touches my heart and I am changed by it. Much like your heart which was but a small glimmer as a child, but there were the beginnings of a special willingness to love – it was all there. I must take care to remember and look at the small hidden parts of my life, bring them out into the light. Because like you they did not not just pop out of nowhere.

    This morning as I look at the dawn come up over the river – full of different shades of grey, blue, pink and salmon, half hidden behind but still seen through the outlines of the trees in front of me. An immeasurable gift to start my day. The colours are soft and invite awe and a reverence and I find myself so very grateful for all that I have received throughout my life. Most specially for you Eugene – for God bringing us together and for you adopting me as your own. For you sharing your very self, your spirit with me, for inspiring and filling, for supporting and loving. It never gets old.

    So even though our novena does not start until the 21st, I begin to day to breathe my prayers for Oblate vocations, for priests and brothers who will join the community and bring new life to all of us – and for lay persons, brothers and sisters who will join the community as Oblate Associates, Friends of St. Eugene, Honorary Oblates and members of MAMI – all of us together responding to a specific vocation, a specific and intentional way of living and sharing in your charism, your very spirit. I begin by going out to walk in the magnificent light of a new day.

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