Why did Eugene become a priest?
Firstly, “the sight of the cross” gave him the motivation to look at his own life and to embrace the direction and meaning that only Jesus could give him. Through the eyes of the crucified Savior he understood the oblation of Jesus, which the cross represented. It led him to respond with the gift of his own life in oblation as a follower of Jesus.
His own gratitude for redemption led him to the priesthood.
If anyone has a greater need of redemption than I, this poor sinner and ungrateful creature who was for so long in a state of revolt, I may perhaps allow him to believe himself more obligated than I to Jesus the Savior for having rescued him.
But seeing the graces which have been given me and which I have profaned, and in spite of which I have sinned, I acknowledged myself as the man who stood in most need of redemption.
Notes of retreat before his ordination to the priesthood, 1 – 21 December 1811,
EO XIV n 95
Eugene, conscious of how he had been overwhelmed by God’s mercy when he had been in need of personal redemption, now dedicated his life to leading others on the same journey of awareness of their need for redemption. His ministry was to assist them to turn to God’s mercy. Reminiscing, some thirty years later, he recalled this motivation:
I thus entered the Seminary of Saint Sulpice with the desire, or better, with my will perfectly resolved to devote myself in the most absolute way to the service of the Church in the exercise of the ministry that is the most useful to souls, the salvation of whom I was burning to consecrate myself.
Mémoires, quoted in RAMBERT I p.47.
Through the eyes of the crucified Savior he identified his mission and expressed it through the priesthood. He this associated himself with Jesus Christ in his mission as Savior of the world.
As I allow the Savior to look at me today, what does he say? What does he invite me to? How does he gently push me to identify the areas in my life in need of redemption? How can I, in turn, be his instrument to others searching for redemption?
“I am for God, I am the lover of God, I am loved by God, I am the servant of God, I am the servant of the servant of God, and I am the well-wishing instrument of God’s love towards every living being, with all humility. The emergence of that realization is the greatest attainment in life.” Radhanath Swami