Every year Eugene spent some time on retreat, away from his busy schedule, aiming at refocusing his priorities. One example from his writings speaks today as we are invited to refocus on our priorities and the direction of our lives.

The year 1817 had been a seesaw of events and emotions. The successful ministry of parish missions in the villages, the ministry of the community in Aix itself, and the ministry with the Youth Congregation was counterbalanced by the destructive criticism and difficulties caused by of some of the city pastors and their followers. Eugene carried the burden of all this .

While all this was happening Eugene took a time of retreat to get things into perspective. With all the busy-ness and the storms he needed to get his bearings on the map of his life so as to ensure that he was still moving in the direction that God wanted for him.

If I want to achieve some good, I must see myself as one sent by God on earth to do there all the good it is in my power to do during the time allotted me, and then death will summon me to him who sent me and who will judge me severely on my works. Woe is me if I am found not to have fulfilled my task!
With this thought in mind, I must make haste and get to work, having always God alone in view, and disdaining any notice of human contradictions which, far from discouraging me, should on the contrary stimulate me all the more to pursue my path, since these contradictions were foretold and are the hall-mark of God’s works.

Retreat Notes, August 1817, O.W. XV n. 144

The focal point was always oblation – living “all for God.” He needed to constantly come back to that compass point so as to keep things in perspective. It was the “home address” on his GPS. What is yours today?

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    As I sit here and ponder I find myself focusing on Eugene’s words: “…having always God alone in view”. If the focal point is always our oblation, our living “all for God” then won’t I perhaps miss everything else, everyone else? Not a chance – for if I give myself completely over to God then I shall see through God’s eyes, the eyes of our crucified Saviour.

    I think of the times I wake up singing a particular hymn and I stop to wonder “why that particular hymn?” Or when I am walking, or riding the bus and become aware that somewhere within me I am saying the Hail Mary. Small things that are mighty. I think of how easy and often that I become distracted by the sights on my journey and yet God never allows me to become completely derailed.

    My home base? From the time I was very young I have thought of my dying as my “going/coming home to God”. In some of the darkest hours of my life I have always believed and ‘known’ that death would be my coming home to the Father. I am reminded of the Prodigal Son and his return to the home of his father.

    My personal “home base” from which I travel out and return to is the heart of Jesus. Living out of the heart of Jesus. My GPS points and instructions – nothing less than all those sent to accompany me on my journey. Eugene is one of those who accompany me. All of you who are here in this space accompany me. Members of the Mazenodian Family accompany me and even more; I think of all of my beloved parish family and those further afield. We accompany each other. What solace, what consolation that thought brings to me this Friday morning during this pandemic.

    My home base, my home address – the heart of Jesus.

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