Before such an important moment in his life, Eugene spent 8 days in silent recollection and prayer.
My first thought as I begin these days of retreat to prepare myself for the episcopate, to which I am called by the will of our Holy Father Pope Gregory XVI, goes back to the happy time of my preparation for the priesthood. That is already a long time ago; a large part of my life has gone by in that long interval between December 1811 and October 1832, but I still remember vividly both the graces it pleased the Lord to give me and my dispositions at the time, and the resolutions God inspired in me.
He recalls the powerful graces he had received when he prepared himself for his priestly ordination. That had been for a month and after many years of seminary preparation.
I set aside a month to prepare myself to receive the imposition of hands and the great priestly character, I will have only eight days to dispose myself to receive the fullness of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
That long retreat was preceded by several years of seminary life solely employed in the study of theology and the acquisition of the clerical virtues in the exact practice of a regular life. These eight days come after the highly active exercise of the apostolic ministry, the constant work of a twofold administration carrying with it a frightening load of responsibility.
Strictly speaking a year’s recollection would not suffice and I have only a week. May God give me the grace to make good use of it!
Retreat journal before being consecrated bishop, 7-14 October 1832, EO XV n 166
An important lesson from a busy man to us in our busy-ness: no matter how full of activity we are, we need always to bear in mind the spiritual graces that have accumulated in our ordinary lives and constitute the foundation for building our relationships today and tomorrow. Pope Francis tells us: “Holiness doesn’t mean doing extraordinary things, but doing ordinary things with love and faith.” With Mary, and Eugene, we can remember “The Lord has done great things for me!” This is what Eugene’s retreat was about: remembering and building…