On his birthday Eugene looked back on 56 years of life, and focused on 26 years of priestly service, seeing them as part of a journey which he began at a sprint but was now reduced to little steps.
At the beginning of my ministry I galloped along. My rate of speed very likely hindered me from seeing dangers scattered on the way, if I remember rightly. At least, I scarcely thought about them; whether through recklessness or preoccupation, I had little fear of them.
Now that I take little steps, it is really different and I count every stumbling block one by one, briars clutch at me from every direction, thorns pierce me to the heart, cold freezes me, heat stifles me, illness weakens me, infirmities weigh me down, morally speaking I mean,
for whereas my body has suffered from excessive work in the diverse ministries, that I have fulfilled for the 26 years of my priesthood, the strength of my temperament has furnished me with vital resources, which can still sustain me even though I am very aware that today I have entered my fifty-sixth year.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 1 August 1837, EO XVIII
A pessimistic thought, perhaps caused by his carriage accident, but which hardly reflected the galloping pace with would be the characteristic of the following 24 years of his energy-filled ministry as Bishop of Marseilles.