Eugene’s heart had been touched by the miserable situation of the prisoners, as Leflon tells us:

Eugene then denounced the deplorable condition of the temporary prisoners, particularly the conscriptees who had been taken from one regiment to another before reaching their final destination. These were the prisoners who had gone into hiding in order to escape conscription, and had eventually been arrested by the police. They

not only lack food, but the majority of them are almost stark naked.

The Semainier proposes, therefore, that an annual collection be conducted, with the permission of the mayor, and that part of the funds collected be used in purchasing “ trousers, shoes, hats, etc . . . for distribution among the wretched needy who are shunted from prison to prison.”  Leflon I, p 104

His initiative was successful:

“He likewise succeeded in providing the draft dodgers with essential clothing. We know that on January 28, he was commissioned, along with two other directors, to buy,

for the time being, a dozen pairs of second-hand underwear, a dozen pairs of tapped shoes,

and on March 10,

some linen material for three dozen men’s shirts, and two dozen women’s chemises, twentyfour bed sheets, ten blankets, twelve Cadiz winter cloaks, twenty straw mattresses, twelve caps, twelve bolsters, and twelve handtowels,

being helped in all this by an organization known as ‘The Ladies of Charity’.”  Leflon I, p 108

A praiseworthy concern for the situation of the poor which helped to alleviate the suffering of the underprivileged prisoners. At this stage, his motivation seemed to be purely humanitarian – his compassionate human nature had been touched. Later we will see how he was to undertake similar gestures, but as a result of seeing the suffering through the eyes of the Crucified Savior, and responding to the poor because of Jesus. God’s grace would build on Eugene’s nature in the future.


“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”   Albert Schweitzer

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What a seriously delightful thought – God’s grace building on the nature which He has created within us. Just to sit in awe with that thought for a few minutes and to rest in it. To give thanks.

    The term ‘immense hope’ comes to mind. While I know that it was the name of a ‘process’ that took place world-wide with the Oblates it was also the phrase which from the moment I first heard it caused my heart to become awakened with a new spark of life. It was what eventually led me to want to know more about “The Founder” (whose name was not often said aloud), about this Saint Eugene de Mazenod, who I wanted to know more about. Immense Hope – the life that has grown from this.

    I am sure that Eugene’s actions must have caused God’s grace to build also on the nature of the mayor and those ‘Ladies of Charity’, causing within them a growing and deepening of their hearts. Just so that all persons be treated with human dignity. Immense Hope.

    And what about my nature? Not something that looked so very great or good for such a very long time. It seems that only God was able to see some possible goodness hidden in the darkness and encased in stone. And He has built upon that very nature which He created within me. Grace… Immense Hope…

    Again that model of Jesus at the centre with a flaming heart, reaching out to the Twelve, back and forth, and reaching out to the Eugenes and other great peoples throughout time, reaching out to still more and eventually drawing all of us into the circle. Not diluted but rather strengthened.

    Indeed a seriously delightful thought – God’s grace building on the nature which He has created within us. Awe. Hope. Gratitude.

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