Eugene then narrates the moment when all the strands of his conversion journey came together in a peak moment of illumination. From this moment everything in his life would be interpreted through the lens of this experience.
Here is the whole text. It will be commented on it in succeeding entries.
I looked for happiness outside of God and for too long with resulting unhappiness.
How often in my past life had my wounded, tormented heart taken wings for God from whom it had turned away!
Can I forget the bitter tears that the sight of the cross brought streaming from my eyes one Good Friday? Indeed they welled up from the heart, there was no checking them, they were too abundant for me to be able to hide them from those who like myself were assisting at that moving ceremony. I was in a state of mortal sin and it was precisely this that made me grieve.
I could then, and also on some other instance, perceive the difference. Never was my soul more satisfied, never did it feel such happiness; for in the midst of this flood of tears, despite my grief, or rather through my grief, my soul took wings for its last end, towards God its only good whose loss it felt so keenly.
Why say more? Could I ever express what I experienced then?
Just the memory of it fills my heart with a sweet satisfaction.
So I had looked for happiness outside of God, and outside him I found but affliction and disappointment.
Blessed, a thousand times blessed, that he, this good Father, notwithstanding my unworthiness, lavished on me all the richness of his mercy.
Let me at least make up for lost time by redoubling my love for him. May all my actions, thoughts, etc., be directed to that end. What more glorious occupation than to act in everything and for everything only for God, to love him above all else, to love him all the more as one who has loved him too late. Ah! this is to begin already here below the blessed life of heaven. That is the true way to glorify him as he wants.
Retreat Journal, December 1814, O.W. XV n.130
“When we tell the story of our own conversion, I would have it done with great sorrow, remembering what we used to be, and with great joy and gratitude, remembering how little we deserve these things.” Charles Spurgeon