In a private journal entry, Eugene had put down his thoughts and feelings. What does this intimate glimpse awaken in me regarding the death of loved ones?

These were so many words which were thrusts of the sword that I am amazed they did not cause my death. I have never understood the Blessed Virgin’s anguish beside the cross as now.
I die a hundred times each day; my grief is excessive, it is beyond words. When I am beside him my heart is riven; but I pull myself together and speak to him of God. He follows affectionately all I say, but when I am not with him, I feel desolate. I carry a mental picture of him always present to me: what he means and has meant to me, and I to him. I carry in my mind memories going back over thirteen years.
I am in continual agony; I would die if I did not find relief from time to time in an outburst of sobbing and copious tears. I do not think any of my children love me like he does. It could be said he modelled his heart and mind on mine, or, to phrase it better, this happened wholly naturally. Never was there such a broad likeness of thoughts, feelings, opinions, tastes, outlook. Did he not say to me a score of times that his trust in me knew no bounds, that he wished his every thought, feeling or desire to be an open-book to me? Is not the memory of such a union enough to bring tears to my eyes and plunge me into the bitterest of sorrows? God! you are separating two hearts made to be ever united. However, this will not be for long.

Eugene de Mazenod: Notes on Fr. Suzanne’s illness, January 1829, EO XV n 158

“The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.”   Thornton Wilder

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    There is a risk in loving as Eugene did; “God! you are separating two hearts made to be ever united.” I think of how I have held back at times, held back my love out of fear of pain.

    And I think of my dear friend Thomas who I walked with as he journeyed his path towards death. There were fears he faced which invited me to face within myself. There was joy that he was going to a place where I longed to be, which his life had been a preparation for. I experienced deep sorrow as he slipped away from us because he had touched my heart so deeply, had entered into it and taken up residence there.
    And in the midst of my sorrow there was that part of me that wanted only for him to be okay, to finally get to where his whole life had brought him to – not measuring my sorrow but recognizing his and rejoicing that he was going home at long last. I kept telling him that Mary was to take him home and I believe that she did. And I was glad when he died that he no longer had to suffer or struggle, that he was now ‘at rest’ – even as I cried deep tears at my own loss. I was grateful that God had taken him, grateful that Thomas had loved me and that I had the opportunity to know that love.

    As I reflect and write on this I cannot help but to think of the immensity of God’s love, this one who calls me Beloved and who I try to imitate in small ways. Although is now a few years still I miss him at times. I am grateful for that love and our friendship.

    This morning has been a small reminder of death that is an intimate part of life. It would seem that death is never simply grief, loss and pain. I am reminded of Jesus on the cross, of Mary before the cross, of Eugene beside Marius Suzanne. This morning has once again made the death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection more ‘real’ and not just a nice and holy story.

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