Seeing himself and the world through the eyes of the Crucified Savior led Eugene to the unwavering certainty of being called to a life of total oblation at the service of the Savior. Madame de Mazenod was certainly not convinced, and her son reacted:
I was hurt at the same time to see that it upsets you so much to see me entering the state of life God calls me to, and to see as a calamity something that should be a source of joy for you.
Eugene had to use all his powers of persuasion to convince her that it had not been a hasty decision, and that a lot of thought and consultation had gone into his discernment.
You tell me one must reflect for a long time before taking such a serious decision. No doubt, one must reflect and test oneself, but must this scrutiny last all one’s life? No decision was ever more carefully and lengthily discussed than the one I am taking.
The he describes his meticulous discernment process.
Come next Christmas, when I will probably be receiving the subdiaconate, I will have been discerning this matter for three years; more than a year of testing in the seminary, after consulting all the best directors available, and all to know if a vocation which dates back to my reaching the age of reason [comes from God].
It has led me to trample underfoot the most seductive vanities and renounce all the advantages I might have found elsewhere, to say nothing of considerations that would have shaken a person less firm, to master finally all the feelings of a heart easily moved to emotion and so accustomed to get its way, to know, I say, if this vocation comes from God.
He concludes by appealing to his love for his mother that would never allow hi9m to heut her – yet his love for God had to come first.
Ah, my God! If the Lord had not inspired this resolution, could I have endured even the thought of causing you to shed one single tear? Answer me that, knowing my heart as you do.
Letter to his mother, 4 April 1809, EO XIV n 50
It was the certainty of someone who had experienced being loved from the cross by the One who gave everything for him. This certainty made sense of his life and his calling.
Perhaps your and my life experience has not quite led us to the same conviction of certainty – yet the same loving gaze and open arms of the Savior on the cross invite us to allow Him to make sense of our lives … let’s ask St Eugene to help us to respond with generosity as he did. It changed his life!
“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” Vaclav Havel