Blessed, a thousand times blessed, that he, this good Father, notwithstanding my unworthiness, lavished on me all the richness of his mercy.
Retreat Journal, December 1814, O.W. XV n.130
The sight of the cross, the realization of the loving embrace of God, who had come to Eugene to lift him up and rescue him – here was the unforgettable life-changing force through which every other moment of his life was focused and given light. In the retreat before his priestly ordination, Eugene described this experience in a powerful way in his journal:
Meditation on the prodigal son. To my shame, this parable never applied to anyone better than it does me.
I left the house of my father, after having, even while I still lived there, heaped up every sort of bitterness on my father. I wasted my patrimony, if not with the daughters of Babylon, as the Lord, with inconceivable goodness, has always preserved me from that kind of stain, at least it was in the tents of sinners that I made my dwelling on my exit from the house of my father.
I wandered eventually through arid deserts; and, reduced to beggary, I ate and fed myself on the food destined for the pigs, whose company I had freely chosen. Did the thought even occur to me of going back to my father, this good father whose excessive tenderness I had so often put to the test? No, he had to come to me himself, thus crowning his gifts, to lift me up, and rescue me all heedless as I was, or rather he had to come and get me out of the mire in which I was immersed and from which I could not extract myself unaided. I hardly ever even conceived the wish to leave aside my rags and put on again my nuptial robe.
Retreat notes before his ordination, December 1811, O.W. XIV n.95
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” Martin Luther King, Jr.