As we explore our understanding of Mazenodian spirituality, I need to pose the question: “What do I mean by using the word spirituality”? Eugene himself gave me the answer when he wrote:
You, you alone will be the only object to which will tend all my affections and my every action. To please you, act for your glory, will be my daily task, the task of every moment of my life. I wish to live only for you, I wish to love you alone and all else in you and through you.
Notes made during the retreat in preparation for priestly ordination, December 1-21, E.O. XIV n.95
“I wish to love you alone and all else in you and through you” gives us the method. Eugene’s spirituality is built on his God-centered focus. We can call his spirituality the way in which his experience and understanding of God, himself and his world was expressed in action. Using Philip Sheldrake’s definition (quoted below) as a guide, we can say that to study Eugene’s spirituality is to explore how his understanding of God, the human person and the world were expressed in a set of values, in a style of life and in spiritual practices as the context for transformation and mission.
“I wish to love you alone and all else in you and through you” gives us the content of Eugene’s spirituality and the direction to follow. In the following weeks we will explore Eugene’s experience of God and how this was expressed in the “all else” of every aspect of his life understood “in God” and “through God.”
To complete the picture, this Mazenodian spirituality has been lived for 200 years, and we also need to explore how it has been understood and lived by the religious and lay members of the Mazenodian family for two centuries.
“I wish to love you alone and all else in you and through you” poses a question to each of us today – what is my basic understanding of my spirituality?
“In Christian terms, spirituality refers to the way our fundamental values, lifestyles, and spiritual practices
reflect particular understandings of God, human identity, and the material world
as the context for human transformation.” Philip Sheldrake