Eugene’s first letter immediately after his episcopal consecration was to his uncle, Bishop Fortuné, who had been the one responsible for this happening. Signing himself, for the first time, “+ Ch. Jos. Eugene, Bishop of Icosia” he expressed his affection for his old uncle.

If I had been at liberty to follow my heart’s desire, the moment I descended from the altar I would have taken up my pen to render you my first act of homage and say again the words I had just addressed to the consecrating Bishop who represented your person to me: ad multos annos. It was high time too I expressed my gratitude towards you, and gave expression to my feelings of filial affection which, while admitting no increase, I experienced in a very lively way even in the midst of the abundant spiritual consolations it pleased the Lord to pour out in my soul on this memorable day. Really it was a great disappointment for me and the occasion, I hope, of much merit to have been deprived of the happiness of being consecrated by you and surrounded by my whole family and our dear friends.
In your very real absence, I tried to make up for it in spirit by being united with you in the prayers you must all have been offering for me.

To Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod, Bishop of Marseilles, 14 October 1832, EO XV n 168

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I realise quite suddenly as I focus on this that I have not paid a lot of attention to Eugene’s uncle – Fortuné. A year ago this time I began to see Eugene’s Father as a loving man – I saw in him Eugene in some ways and I began to really like him. I had before then allowed my glances to slip quickly past him – perhaps I did not think him to be important in the overall scheme of things – or more honestly perhaps I was allowing myself to see only through the lens of my own woundedness. And in a sense I may have been doing something similar with Fortuné. Oh the many ways that we, that I limit myself in not giving myself fully in and with love to others – past or present.

    This morning I see an echo of Eugene’s heart reaching out to the hearts of others just as he did to his mother in the piece that we read yesterday. He speaks of the communion as he holds his loved ones with him, as he steps deeper into his oblation.

    I am seeing him this morning as I saw him yesterday – another aspect, another shard of colour and light, another sliver of love.

    “In your very real absence, in prayer with him I tried to make up for it in spirit by being united with you…” the both/and – the touchable, physical united with the spirit.
    Eugene entering into a new way of being – not as he might picture it (for we know some of what is to come) but still entering into it – his oblation deepening further as he focuses for a moment on his beloved uncle who he holds closely in his heart.

    As I start another day – allowing Eugene to lead me towards the dawn – those shards of colour, those slivers of love to pierce the walls that surround my heart – built strong and high to protect myself but which are no longer required.

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