Living “all for God” does not just happen simply because one wishes it. There is a certain discipline and effort involved in training oneself consciously to be aware of the presence of God. Ephesians 6:18 calls on Christians to “pray always.” In other words to do things in a conscious union with God.
Eugene’s aim was not to live like a contemplative monk – his vocation was to be an active missionary, whose actions were to be firmly rooted in union with God. Thus when people arrived and “disrupted” his timetable, he was to welcome them by transforming this time into a moment of encounter with God.
Perform all of my actions before God without losing for an instant his holy presence, be very careful to offer him all the upset plans my service of neighbour occasions.
In order to achieve the ability to be aware of God’s presence it was necessary to learn to have a measure of self-control – hence the need for mortification to avoid being self-centred and giving in to the temptation of putting himself on centre stage.
But in imitation of the saints, have a love of mortification and the spirit of mortification. Be guided in this matter by my director and do not fall into any extreme either of excess or deficiency.
Retreat Notes, August 1817, O.W. XV n. 144
St. Francis of Assisi presented the same idea: “It was easy to love God in all that was beautiful. The lessons of deeper knowledge, though, instructed me to embrace God in all things.”