This series of daily reflections on the writings of St Eugene de Mazenod has been going since May 2010. In just over ten years, we have covered the period of his writings until 1839. It is good to pause, from time to time, to get our compass bearings.

So, for the next couple of weeks I will republish a series recalling the basic points of his life, using his own words.

Charles Joseph Eugene de Mazenod was born on 1 August 1782 – birth in Aix en Provence. Son of Charles Antoine de Mazenod, President of the Court of Accounts, and of Marie Rose Joannis, he had a great love for his family.

I have not changed over the years. I idolize my family.

I would let myself be cut up into little pieces for some members of my family, and that stretches out to quite a long way for I would give my life without hesitation for my father, mother, grandmother, my sister and my father’s two brothers.

Generally speaking I love with passion everybody I believe loves me, but theirs must be a passionate love too.

So gratitude is the final constituent that goes to make up my heart’s passion.

Self-evaluation written for his spiritual director in 1808, EO XIV n. 30

He recalls his childhood years, in which we recognize traits that he would show throughout his life.

It is hard to understand, given the portrait of myself I have just painted, how sensitive a heart I have, overly so in fact. It would take too long to give you all the stories of my childhood traits I have had related to me and which are really rather surprising.

It was quite normal for me to give away my breakfast even when I was hungry to satisfy the hunger of the poor, I used to bring firewood to people who complained of the cold and of not being able to afford to buy it, on one occasion I went as far as to give away the clothes off my back to clothe a poor person, and many, many other stories in the same vein.

Self-evaluation written for his spiritual director in 1808, O.W. XIV n. 30

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene was born in love; that is he knew love, what it was to be loved – by his parents, grandparents uncles and sister. He learned to love from them and give back that love in equal measures. The Duchess of Cannizzaro teaching him to love and serve the poor in a more mature way, not waiting until he met a person who was poor, but going out to serve them as she herself did.

    Meeting Jesus on the cross that one Good Friday helped him take all that love he had received into account even as he recognized that Jesus had died for him, out of love. A turning point in his life as God took what was already there, allowing it to be nurtured and shaped to become something much greater within him; God took what was there from the moment of Eugene’s creation and magnified it. Seeing himself through the eyes of utter and unlimited love. What had begun when he was small now took great shape showing him what he was to be in life. He had not changed but his heart and life had been refined.

    In the Eugene 101 course an analogy of being like refined gold is offered to us. Gold in its original state is not pure and so it is refined; it is heated to an incredibly high temperature so as to have the impurities burned off and from there it is poured out from the crucible to me molded, shaped into a new way. The Oxford dictionary gives this definition of crucible: a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new. Taking what was there and recreating it; I think of Jesus on the cross and resurrected.

    This invitation this morning has not been a suggestion to compare but rather an opportunity to look at our own hearts and see what we may not have realized was there and recognize how God has and continues to refine the crucibles of our own love.

    I dare to quote: “So gratitude is the final constituent that goes to make up my heart’s passion”.

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