One of the privileged moments of prayer for Eugene was to be able to unite himself with those he loved in the presence of God. In our Oblate tradition we have come to know this exercise as “oraison.” As a seminarian in Paris he wrote to his mother one Christmas morning describing how united he had been with her during Midnight Mass, despite the distance that separated them.
Dearest Mother, do you really think that I was not beside you last night? How could I fail, meditating as I was on the holy Mother of God, who had just been filled with consolation on giving the world its Saviour, and at the same time had to experience so vividly the poverty, weakness and misery to which she saw her Divine Master reduced for love of men, how could these tender sentiments fail to draw me close to you?
Indeed yes, darling mother, we spent the night together at the foot of the altar, which for me represented the crib in Bethlehem; together we offered our gifts to our Savior and asked him to come to birth in our hearts and strengthen us in all that is weak, etc.
You know my heart all too well, since it was formed from your own, so you will have a very clear understanding that it is as active and goes through the same feelings as your own.
Letter to his mother, 25 December 1809, EO XIV n 37
Who are the people I want to unite myself with before the crib in Bethlehem this year?