Eugene continues to remind his poor listeners how they are regarded by the world – all the time to highlight his central message: “you are more precious in the eyes of God than all earth’s riches.”
Servants, who are you in the eyes of the world? A class of people slaves of those who pay your wages, exposed to contempt, injustice and often even ill-treatment at the hands of demanding and sometimes cruel employers who think they have bought the right to treat you with injustice with the paltry wage they pay you.
And you, tillers of the soil, peasants, who are you in the eyes of the world? However valuable your labours, you are valued only for the strength of your arms and if your sweat, distasteful as it is to them, gets any attention at all, it is only because it falls on and enriches the ground.
Notes for the first instruction in the Church of the Madeleine
O.W. XV n. 114
Five years earlier, Eugene had spoken of his own relationship with the servants of his family (remembering that there had been 12 in his childhood home). It is in interesting contrast with how he portrays the world’s attitude:
A person’s rank in society does not enter as a factor at all into the feeling that brings me to love someone who of a truth loves me. The proof of this is the unbelievable affection I have for the servants who are truly fond of me; I hate being separated from them, it is a wrench for me to leave them, I take an interest in their welfare, and will not overlook anything to secure it, and I do not do this out of magnanimity or greatness of soul, motivations of that kind influence me only when it is a question of people who are cold, but out of feeling, tenderness, really the only word for it is friendship.
Eugene’s Self-Portrait for his spiritual director
O.W. XIV n 30