The very day after Eugene had written to his mother telling her that it was now too late to do anything for his father and uncles, the tide began to change. Eugene describes the events of 22 August, in which he saw the opportunity to unite both his desires – the return of his family, and the discovery of a new possibility of assuring the future of his Missionaries:

What has happened? All this while, the steps that I had taken for my father, always weak when done from a distance, resulted in nothing. The King appointed people to French bishoprics; my uncle was not included. Everything was lost for us. Because of that there were reproaches for not having acted according to rules of human prudence, etc.
But God, forever just, had not forgotten that it was for the glory of his name and filled with confidence in him that I had sacrificed everything for him, brought about an event that obliged me to come to Paris to defend his work under attack from evil influence. To fulfill the law of courtesy and justice, I was obliged first to present myself to the Minister, and then to a Bishop [ed. de Latil, who formed part of the committee to conduct the informative process to appoint new bishops] whom I knew no more than he knew me.

At that moment the priest who had been designated as future Bishop of Marseille had refused to accept, so there was a vacancy. The government was anxious to enforce the new Concordat with the Pope as quickly as possible, and this agreement included the re-establishment of the dioceses that had been suppressed before. The vacancy in Marseille was about to delay the process. Eugene continues:

we spoke briefly about my uncle, I put on his desk a half-sheet of paper outlining an account of his service; the following day he was named Bishop of Marseilles.

Eugene immediately puts the importance of the appointment into context. It was all about ensuring the survival of the Missionaries and their ministry which was under threat:

This means that at the very moment when I was seeking earthly support, the Lord, the proven Protector of our great work of instructing and converting poor country people, chose with his own hand the most suitable instrument for sustaining our Society in the very province where our sublime ministry must be carried on: I need not point out to you what it will mean to this Society to have the uncle of its Superior as bishop of one of the principal dioceses in which it exercises its salutary influence. No matter how little we may heed the ways of Divine Providence, what reflections could not be made on this matter! Let me point out only one which shows sufficiently that God wisely directs all things here on earth

Letter to his father and uncles in Palermo, 6 September1817, O.W. XIII n. 11

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  1. John Mouck says:

    I just love this account of what went on and Eugene’s reaction.
    How often I have asked God for help and favours on personal issues. But I ask through my so typical tunnel vision of life and my selfish ideas of how I think things should be. God must chuckle at me and my tiny plans. He has showered me with gifts I wasn’t even wise enough to think to ask for.
    Recently a disappointment, a hurt actually, was inflicted upon me. My initial reaction was resentment and to seek what I considered justice. Instead I have left the whole matter in God’s hands and I move on in peace and with excitement to see where He is leading me.
    It is so much easier, so fun, so exciting to walk along with my friend Jesus rather than heading off, struggling every step, on my own rocky path.

    I am thankful for you
    I pray with and for you


  2. Anda says:

    This reminded me of the Superior General’s comments regarding discerning God’s will and being “lead” – that just because one does good works doesn’t mean one has discerned or is following God’s plan. “A danger is to take it for granted that we know God’s will without the hard work of prayer, discussion, study and reflection. This is hard work and it is also a source of life and joy to be in dialogue with God and to be lead on a journey.” Things may work, but when I want to be the leader, not always as well. Maybe it is time to stop trying to lead our dance….

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