While I am convinced that the focal point of Eugene’s spirituality is his understanding of the Cross as his life-long source of energy and mission, it is important to see this as part of a spiritual journey and not an isolated happening. Eugene’s spiritual journey had begun in his youth, with all his experiences contributing to the formation of his focus. His earliest recorded recollection is:
God placed in me, I would almost say, a kind of instinct to love him. My reason was not yet formed when I loved to dwell in his presence, to raise my feeble hands to him, listen to his word in silence as if I understood it. By nature lively and irrepressible, it was enough to bring me before the altar to make me gentle and utterly tranquil, so ravished was I by my God’s perfections, as if by instinct I would say, for at that age I did not understand them.
Notes made during the retreat in preparation for priestly ordination
1-21 December 1811, EO XIV n. 95
At the age of 29 he recalled these childhood religious experiences and his instinctive sense of the presence of God. It was to be a distinctive characteristic of his spirituality that stayed with him in adulthood.
It is important for each of us to do the same: to look back on our earlier religious experiences and to re-read them in the light of our present journeys. We will discover patterns of spiritual expression that have their roots in earlier experiences.
“There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge… observation, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination.” Denis DideroT