Vespers at two. The Blessed Sacrament remained exposed during Vespers. Sermon on adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Immediately after the sermon, the procession left. The evening before, notice was given that all those who wished to join in were to procure for themselves a candle. Pains were taken to ensure that provision was made for them to be available in all sizes, even one ounce, so that everyone could provide themselves with one cheaply. We explained what was the Church’s intention in this laudable custom…
It might seem that it would take little to arouse the zeal and enthusiasm of the inhabitants and induce them to take part in this procession. But that is not how it turned out, and avarice held back four-fifths of these unfeeling men; they were quite happy to watch the procession go by, as if it were a spectacle that was being offered to satisfy their curiosity.
The missionaries’ indignation soared, and the Superior was touched to the quick so that on the procession’s return, when from the pulpit he stopped the Blessed Sacrament on the threshold of the church door, he felt he had first and foremost to have the act of reparation intoned that is customary in that situation for the insult that Our Lord had just received through the indifference of a people who should on that day have been imploring his mercy and made reparation by their acts of homage for past irreverence.
Despite the incredible behaviour of these thoughtless men, the church, filled with women and about one hundred and fifty men, all with lighted candles in hand, presented a fine sight and one apt to move all but the miserly.

The missionaries to the most abandoned could not ignore those men who had stayed outside the church, and so at the end of the ceremony,

the Superior went back out and spoke to them some encouraging words and to invite them to seek admission into the Congregation.

Later, Eugene noted in the Diary:

N.B. I think we went wrong in not assembling the men before Vespers… I am persuaded that we would not have suffered this disagreeable experience had we been able to speak in familiar terms with these men for an hour, as we have done elsewhere. We must remember this when on another mission.

Diary of the Marignane Mission, 8 December 1816, O.W. XVI

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  1. Eugene you continue to teach us and show us that we are no different now in the 21st century as in the 19th.
    How do we invite men to acknowledge their spiritual life; giving words to feelings and senses, not in flowery spiritual language, but in the events of the day. Maybe rough, maybe crude, maybe in a language that “wakes them up”, but strong.
    Mother Church might be too feminine as we see it.
    Where is the church of the fishermen with calloused hands (Peter and Andrew, James and John) and the Church on the docks of Marseilles? How do we challenge men? It can’t be with softness and light, but must be with a call to commitment and the reality of suffering. If you are past 40, when was the last time you learned something profound by something easy and light. Chances are you learned a life lesson through a difficult time, hard knocks, a dark moment, a painful experience?
    How do we reach out to the men?

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