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

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    My mind keeps returning to thoughts of how Jesus endured the accusations against himself, throughout his life and then ultimately with his life as he died on the cross; he was blameless and still he suffered the ultimate humiliation. I am reminded of how through it all Jesus did not try to retaliate in any way against those who had accused him. This man who was perfectly human withstood it all. And the miracle was that after he died he was resurrected. Our crucified Saviour…

    Do I really mean to compare Eugene with Jesus? It is not a comparison, but rather a witnessing, a recognizing and realizing the similarities to be found in great love and total oblation. Eugene was not robbed of his humanity by this hatred and humiliation, but rather he was filled with even greater love and courage to endure whatever God allowed him to experience.

    He did not allow himself the comfort of running and hiding, of retaliating in any way the unjust and false accusations made against him; he continued to be about God’s business which was the celebration of the Eucharist for those who were before him in Church. We only know how Eugene suffered this kind of treatment because of his diary entries, his conversations with God.

    I look at what Paul has written to the Romans: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18). This is why, this is how Eugene was able to continue to celebrate the liturgy. So complete was his trust in God that he endured, yet again that which was false and which he did not deserve; he endured out of love for our crucified Saviour who was his model in life.

    How do we bear the small humiliations laid upon us by others? Do we fight back? Or do we continue on in how we have been called to live, enduring with grace that which is not deserved?

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