The repeated bad behavior of one of Eugene’s domestic employees had led to him being dismissed. In revenge he ambushed the bishop at a public celebration in a church and made malicious and slanderous accusations about him in front of a packed congregation.
It was not an April fool trick that was awaiting me at Roquevaire, but the greatest outrage I have received in my life.
The man became violent and was taken into police custody while the shaken Eugene had to continue with the ceremony.
As for me, I had to complete the ceremony by celebrating the sacred mysteries. Sitting there before the altar, while the cloths and candlesticks were being placed upon it, I asked myself if my emotions were such that I should abstain from approaching the altar. I confess that I felt so calm, so little disturbed, in a word, less moved, than I would certainly have been if I had witnessed such a thing happening to another.
I considered the thoughts in my heart. Evidently, God’s grace was helping me at that moment. I was not aware of any sentiment of hatred in my mind, or of any feeling of revenge, however justified it might have been. I felt that, in all sincerity, I could pray for this wicked man and I got up to begin the holy Mass. I had the happiness of being able to continue in this frame of mind and, with God’s help, I was able to speak twice to the numerous assembly without showing the slightest change in my appearance.
Scarcely had I returned to the presbytery than everyone came to express their regret at what had happened… The fact that I could remain so unperturbed remains a miracle in my eyes. I pray God that He make me bear with inner resignation this new kind of humiliation.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 1 April 1838, EO XIX
“It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” Romans 8: 16 – 18