As the time approached for Eugene to take the decisive step to go to the seminary and prepare himself for priestly ministry, his spiritual director, Father Magy, gave him ongoing support and encouragement.

   “O happy day, the anniversary of your Baptism! Oh, how your letter flooded me with joy. Your sentiments disconcert me, but I find consolation in being disconcerted…

       “You have a devotion to Saint Ignatius. That great saint trained so many apostles. He will obtain for you the grace to be one. You, you will be one. I have the feeling you will be …

You have the desire to be a martyr; that is the desire characteristic of an apostle. Your desires will be fulfilled: offering your senses and your inclinations in sacrifice will make you a martyr.

Go for it! Courage! The field is open; the harvest is abundant and the workers are few. Set everything on fire.”   Letter from Father Magy, August 1808, quoted in Rey I, p 88.

The enthusiastic and fiery Eugene did not need much more encouragement. What had come together for him on Good Friday, was now about to begin to take effect: apostle, the desire for total oblation in love as a martyr, burning with zeal for the salvation of others … Two hundred years later, that fire continues to burn and has set us on fire as a Mazenodian Family, built on its apostles, its martyrs, its fiery missionaries, its co-workers… What a legacy, and what a challenge to go for it, to have courage, to set the world on fire.


“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”   T. S. Eliot

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Looking at what Fr. Magey wrote I find myself filled with wonderment and pride. This man reminds me a little of Zacharia who ‘knew’ who Mary was, who knew who Jesus would be. What an incredible gift he was to Eugene, to offer such love and support. He saw in Eugene the man he would become. It is interesting to see the words that he uses; ‘apostle’, ‘martyr’ and I add my own of ‘saint’. Frank mentioned Eugene’s desire for total oblation – there it was in those words.

    There is a greatness here that I have not thought about before. I am used to seeing Eugene in a light of greatness, but for a moment I think back to those apostles of Jesus. They were by all accounts ordinary people who left everything to be with Jesus, to live a new way of life and to share that with all the peoples that they could. When you think of it – fishermen, tax collectors, ordinary people. If Jesus set the world on fire, so did they. And then there is Eugene, who like Jesus (who he used as his model) and started a growing inferno that reached around the world. There are many throughout time but I focus on the Oblates and Associates, those who have come before us and those in our midst now – how they in sharing that same spirit have lit and sometimes re-ignited the fires within so many of us. Setting the world on fire, helping to set the world on fire. I think of that diagram of the hearts on fire, burning with love that moves back and forth, in and around, touch everyone.

    I think maybe that when we become who we have been created to be, we begin to light the fire and to let our lives be the very fuel of keeping other fires alive and fostering and them in others. I think oddly enough of the Serenity Prayer ‘the courage to change the things I can’…

    There are the words that Frank began with; to go for it, courage, set the world on fire. He could have been talking to me for that is how it felt. I keep thinking of what I wrote yesterday. I don’t know that I shall ever set the world on fire, but perhaps I can be the tinder that helps fuel and grow the flames of others.

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    Powerful reading in light of the first readings from mass and the events of our day.

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