In his retreat in Amiens before his priestly ordination he had given his “Here I am” to God. recalling that event, he now expresses his desire to deepen this oblation that urges him to work at improving himself.

In my Amiens retreat, going deeper into God’s way of dealing with me, I came to the conclusion that he was expecting great things of me; and being already convinced that I was a very great sinner, I could do no other than empty myself in his presence, profoundly abase myself, and then say: Ecce adsum [ed. “Here I am”], counting myself only too happy that the good Master wanted in this way to furnish me with the means of discounting a little my great sins.

Retreat Notes, July-August 1816, O.W. XV n 139

For a man very familiar with Scripture, the “ecce adsum” of Eugene would have recalled for him the “yes” of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, that of Mary at the annunciation, and the call of Samuel to follow God’s vocation for him.


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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “…..Gods way of dealing with me….” and he [Eugene] goes on to talk about God’s expectations of him. It don’t think I have ever thought of God as “expecting”, perhaps waiting but not expecting. My experience of “expectation” (early on) was one of “toe-tapping waiting”, of demanding and of measurables, a waiting to pounce and of for-knowledge of failure. Not my experience of God at all. And yet when I googled the word ‘expect’ one of the synonyms was ‘waiting’ and another was ‘hope’. Aha – that has been my experience of God, infinite tender waiting and patience, not passive but totally active and present.

    Like Eugene I would ask God to empty me – because I did not know how, so that I might be filled with Him. And even that desire came from God. On my own, without God, I am nothing. Not in a way that takes from me, but only adds. For even to pray, the desire was first planted in me and then grown there, guided and led. I had for the most part no idea of what was happening, I could only “go with it” – it being a life in and with God, oneness or towards that.

    My “here I am – do with me what You will” has been and is imperfect at best and something that I must come back to day after day. For me it is something great and huge, for it is a love that consumes me, a love that like fire shapes and purifies me somehow, not a small tiny glowing of past fire, but rather flames that are fed by their very selves as in no control (on my part) at all.

    “…I could do no other than empty myself in his presence” – there is such great freedom in doing that – perhaps the greatest freedom there could ever be. To let go of everything is quite literally to have it all. A great great mystery. I see Eugene as having done that, over and over again, living that yes. Might I too become like that. I think of Eugene’s words: “we must help men [persons] to become human, then Christians, then help them to become saints”.

    This morning has been long, for not only did I have to look up words so as to get a sense of them, different from my experience, but here today I was reminded of Jesus’ ‘yes’ in the Garden of Gethsemane, and that I will come back to for didn’t I say only yesterday as I sat in your arms O God of how I didn’t want to go where You seem to be leading me but that I would and could do nothing else but. I have had to stop and read about Samuel who I have not known and even the reading was not comfortable. Here I am Lord. Not a day goes by that you don’t look upon me, never letting me go. You daily bring me closer and closer and always I am surprised at how you speak to and with me, in the writings of some and through the mouths of others and then sometimes it is just your word. I am sure I am quoting someone when I say you are always before me and yet there it is. It is a struggle to let go of the load I try to drag along with me, and you in your tenderness simply smile and say “come”, always that invitation.

    Be with me today as you always are. Give me the courage to speak out, to speak your word – a daunting task for sure and grant me the grace to then let it go – its of you and not me, for your glory not mine. It is to your end. Remember my struggle with the starting of things, not my wants or needs, but yours, your will, your people.

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