For the past six years we have been reading and reflecting on the writings of Saint Eugene in a chronological way. The last letter we had reflected on was that of 21 October 1828 (http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=2811 posted on May 12, 2015)
I then posed the question:” IS THERE SUCH A THING AS OBLATE/MAZENODIAN SPIRITUALITY?” (http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=2820, posted on August 3, 2015 ). It is a question that has accompanied us throughout the bicentenary year of our foundation, and which culminated in our reflections on the first ten constitutions of our Oblate Rule of Life – a summary of the central aspects of our charism and spirituality as a Mazenodian Family.
Now we will pick up again with the writings of St. Eugene from the latter part of 1828. It begins a decade during which he lived some of the most difficult moments of his life. The death of close collaborators, bouts of serious illness and depression, conflict and persecution by the French authorities, ordination as titular Bishop of Icosia, political conflicts leading him to be abandoned by both the King of France and the Pope. In 1837 Eugene was appointed Bishop of Marseille and we see the emergence of a man who had been refined and enriched by suffering and hardship. For the next 24 years, he was to be the guiding shepherd and father of both the Oblate Congregation in its numerical and geographic expansion, and of the diocese of Marseille, the second largest city of France – both realities exploding with new life and numbers under his guidance.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s words reflect this process in Eugene: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.”
May Eugene’s intercession accompany us as we recognize in his life the presence of the Crucified Savior who never abandoned him – and let us see this as an invitation to recognize Him in our own lives, especially in times of difficulty.