… we pronounced our vows with an indescribable joy. We savoured our happiness throughout this beautiful night, in the presence of Our Lord, at the foot of the magnificent throne where we had placed Him for the Mass of the Pre-sanctified the following day..
Rambert I, p. 187
Reading Eugene’s description of the Holy Thursday night of their vows one is able to sense the beauty of the gesture of oblation and its importance for him. As he speaks of the joy and the hours spent savoring the depth of the moment, it is an experience of intimacy with Jesus in his Eucharistic presence that he refers to in other writings. In 1830 for example he wrote to Henri Tempier:
This morning, before communion, I dared to speak to this good Master with the same freedom that I would have had if I had had the happiness to live when he walked on earth, and if I had found myself in the same predicament. I said Mass in a particular chapel, I was not impeded by anyone’s presence. I exposed to him our needs, asked his light and his assistance, and then I surrendered myself entirely to him, wishing absolutely nothing else than his holy will. I took communion in this disposition. As soon as I had taken the precious blood, it was impossible for me to withstand such an abundance of interior consolations…
Letter to Henri Tempier, 23 August 1830, O.W. VII n. 359
Meditating on the first Holy Thursday celebration of the Missionaries makes me think of the prayer of Jesus at the last supper where he invited the apostles to communion with his Father: “I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26) In the spirit of Jesus’ promise on the first Holy Thursday in Jerusalem: “Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete” (John 16:24) – we can understand something of the fullness of joy experienced on Holy Thursday 1816 in Aix en Provence, which can be ours today.