1802 – At the insistence of his mother, Eugene returned to France at the age of 20. His mother had divorced his father in order to regain the family wealth from the Revolutionary authorities who had confiscated the properties of the nobility.

Eugene threw himself into the lifestyle of a young nobleman. He had no sense of direction and one finds him alternating between a life of pleasure and a life of boredom with no future prospects.

There is not a single girl who suits me in Aix… And above all, the one I want must be very rich, and that is difficult to find.

Letter to his father, 10 May 1804, Mejanes Library Aix

How can one have enough of the pleasures that the charming city of Aix presents me with?

Letter to his father, 27 January 1804, Mejanes Library Aix

Take all that into account, and you will see that one could die of pleasure in Aix.

Letter to his father, 18 January 1805, Mejanes Library Aix

It has to be said, this repugnance is also due to the fact that it is not in my character to spend my life planting cabbages. I have the feeling that I am not where I should be, and I get angry when I see the best years of my life draining away in idle obscurity. You can judge yourself if I should be bright and cheerful when you know that these thoughts go round and round in my head whenever I am alone..

Letter to his father, 12 April 1804, Mejanes Library Aix

He was ready for God’s intervention in his life!

For further details see: For further details, see Alfred Hubenig and René Motte: “Living in the Spirit’s Fire” pages 25-29 in

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene reminds me a bit of myself just before I met Jesus, before I heard him say my name. I was an alcoholic and drug addict and life was dark and empty. Eugene’s too was dark and empty. Is that all there is – the music and words; “Is that all there is my friend, then let’s keep dancing…” Eugene’s life was very different from my and yet we seemed to be in the same kind of place – for each of us life was somehow lacking in light and was very empty.

    What strikes me the most this morning though is how God chooses the time and the manner to open our lives. It can be described as Jesus saying our name, Jesus speaking to us from the cross, Jesus being present to us in a way that we are startling aware of. Perhaps the most defining point of awareness in our entire life. Only God can bring that about.

    With God our life journey changes; transformation begins and continues throughout our lives.

    I liken it to a person who has slowly been going deaf over a long period of time. They do not even realise that they have begun to lip-read or use their hands to try and describe what they are hearing and saying. They might go to a concert and hear a tune but it all seems a little grey and lack-luster; there is no ‘real life’ to it. Eventually they go for testing and get hearing aids and a whole new world opens up to them. It is as if life itself has become transformed for the music they hear is made from the sounds of many instruments playing together. They hear the air passing their ears and pushing at the leaves on trees; there are the sounds of small birds in the trees. For them the very tone of life has shifted and changed.

    We have all seen pictures or videos of small children who are profoundly deaf and who hear their mothers’ voice for the first time. The excitement; the wonder and joy of that experience.

    Our life in God – a small but powerful image to carry with us as we again begin a new and wondrous day.

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