EUGENE AND THE HISTORY OF FRANCE: IT WILL ALSO BE UPON THE YOUTH THAT I WILL WORK

Having just outlined the evil situation in which the young people found themselves, Eugene saw the urgency of responding to Napoleon’s attacks, despite the personal danger this would entail from him from Napoleon’s police. The central thrust of the newly-ordained priest’s ministry for the next few years would be to establish a support system to attempt to preserve the youth of Aix from the evils with which they were threatened:

Must one, a sad spectator of this deluge of evil, be content to bemoan it in silence without supplying any remedy? Certainly not. And should I suffer persecution or be destined to fail in the holy enterprise of raising a barrier against this torrent of iniquity at least I shall not have to reproach myself with not having made the attempt.
What means are to be employed to attain success in so great an enterprise? None other than those employed by the seducer himself. He felt he could succeed in corrupting France only by perverting the youth, it is towards them that he directs all his efforts.
Very well, it will also be upon the youth that I will work; I will strive, I will make the attempt to preserve them from the evils with which they are menaced, that they suffer already in part, inspiring in them early-on the love of truth, respect for religion, taste for piety, horror of vice.

Diary of the Aix Christian Youth Congregation, 25 April 1813, EO XVI.

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One Response to EUGENE AND THE HISTORY OF FRANCE: IT WILL ALSO BE UPON THE YOUTH THAT I WILL WORK

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Today we have Eugene referring to Napoleon as the seducer, a term that is used for both God and the devil. The seducer in this case who seduces with lies and empty promises. And Eugene saying that he will dare to stand up to him [Napoleon] and how he will work with the very tools [the youth] that Napoleon would use to corrupt the world. He would show them what love was all about, about God and how they could live and thrive with God in a way that would not leave them feeling empty.

    Today, March 27, is when we remember and celebrate Eugene’s conversion experience before the Cross on Good Friday in 1807.

    1807 – Eugene’s Conversion Experience before the Cross on Good Friday. It was this I believe that nourished and fed Eugene so that he could live with a new way of seeing, a new way of being. His course did not change at the same time and yet it did, he was nourished with renewed love and zeal. This branded him and it would be through new eyes that he would see. The colour of the world changed in those moments of his experience. And it took great daring and ever deepening faith to move as he did, using one of Napoleons tools – the youth, and inviting them to learn and know about God and allow themselves to be seduced by real and true love.

    Am I being simply fanciful – I don’t think so, I hope not for that is how I see him (Eugene) and his experience – gathering strength for something that was so much greater than he would ever have dared to dream. My reflection this morning as again led me [back] to and through Eugene’s experience of Jesus on the Cross and how he began to live that out – his focus; and then in and out through my own personal experiences, to Jesus on the Cross. It is as if I see this magnificent tapestry that is all of creation and it is not bound by time or anything else physical, and we are all threads interwoven – and we are each of us quite distinct and yet so tightly woven are we that we become fused with the others, each of us becoming a part of the other. This morning I am quite unable to separate the threads and concentrate on just one of them.

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