In his role as a director of the prison charity, Eugene became well known to the Archbishop of Aix and was treated by him as a son. Rey tells us how Eugene became a regular participant in the prayers and chanting of the Divine Office in the Cathedral.
“He used to take his place in the large choir in the area where the stalls were accessible to men. One day, during the divine office, some of the onlookers had not behaved in a manner suitable for a holy place. After Mass, the master of ceremonies came to tell the occupants of the stalls, regardless of who they were, that they were no longer to go to these stalls – by order of the Archbishop. Eugene left the church, visibly upset, but resigned to obey authority. When he returned home he was surprised to find a letter from the Archbishop, giving him a special favor: the right to take his place in the stalls where the clergy prayed. He immediately went to the Archbishop to thank him for having made him a “mini-canon.”
He had a certain claim to this title, not only because of his regular attendance at the services, but even more because of the part he played in the singing and in all the prayers. On Sundays and feast days he attended the canonical hours and chanted the psalms with the canons. God had given him a clear voice, very precise and very pleasant; Eugene liked to devote it to the Church’s hymns, which he regarded as more important than all other songs.” Rey I p. 50-51
Four years earlier, Eugene’s letters had been full of the pleasures of Aix: theater, singing, dancing, parties etc. It is clear that something had changed in his life. We are witnessing a 25 year-old fully on the journey of conversion!
Finally, Eugene is allowing God to be the author of his life. As I reflect on this, I want to remove my shoes because I am on holy ground… the sacred space of Mazenodian spirituality where God writes the story.
“Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something.” Ralph Marston