THERE YOU MUST BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE, AS WAS THE DIVINE MASTER WHOM WE SERVE AND THE HOLY APOSTLES IN WHOSE FOOTSTEPS WE FOLLOW

Eugene, as Superior General, gave Fr Hermitte a new missionary assignment to serve the spiritually needy.

I am directing you to leave for N.D. du Laus so that you may give good service in this shrine to which so many needy souls flock to find some relief from their misfortunes. There you will hear the confessions of both the pilgrims and the people of the place who may come to you.

Eugene reminds him of the model of every Oblate mission: co-operator of the Savior in the footsteps of the apostles.

There you must be everything to everyone, as was the divine Master whom we serve and the holy Apostles in whose footsteps we follow. Go therefore, my dear son, with the disposition of making up with zeal for the small number of labourers.

The Savior never abandons his co-operators:

The Lord, whose work we are doing, will provide for our needs, if we are faithful servants and accomplish well the beautiful mission he has entrusted to us through a grace of having been chosen.

Letter to Jean Hermitte, 25 August 1837, EO IX n 636

Today, as Eugene’s Mazenodian Family, we are invited to the same vision in our daily lives.

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IF THEY UNDERSTOOD THE TRUE MEANING OF WHAT A BISHOP IS, THEY WOULD BE LESS ASTONISHED TO SEE HIM APPROACHING HIS SHEEP WHEN THEY ARE SUFFERING

Eugene records two of his pastoral visits to comfort those who were suffering.

Coming back to the city, I went to visit Father Fissiaux who is sick with grief, seeing that the plague of cholera had taken seven little girls of his community.

Father Charles Fissiaux, a member of the diocesan clergy, had started poor girls and those orphaned by cholera epidemic of 1835. In 1839, he founded the Society of Saint Peter in Chains for young people in jail.

From there I visited M. Jourdan, down with cholera, but with some hope of a cure. My visit did him unspeakable good and greatly edified Doctor Ducros who came to the sick man’s house at the same time as I did. If they understood the true meaning of what a Bishop is, they would be less astonished to see him approaching his sheep when they are suffering some affliction or in the clutches of sickness and death.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 8 September 1837, EO XVIII

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ST EUGENE DE MAZENOD AND HIS MAZENODIAN FAMILY DURING TIMES OF EPIDEMICS

As a Mazenodian Family, let’s try to set aside some time each day to pray (oraison) in solidarity with all the members of the Mazenodian Family throughout the world.

Recent entries of this daily reflection have been dealing with the 1837 outbreak of cholera in Marseilles.

I invite you to go back to the entries regarding the cholera of 1835:

They begin from 5 July 2019 (http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=3997) and continue to 7 August 2019 (http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=4021).

Also the article in the Historical Dictionary:   https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/cholera-epidemics/

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THE POOR ARE RELYING ON THE BISHOP’S HOUSE, AND SOON WE WILL BE REDUCED TO SELLING OUR SILVERWARE TO HELP THEM

As the cholera epidemic was lessening, so did the awareness of the misery it had caused.

But misery is being felt on all sides, and we do not dare to hope that the collections taken up so ostentatiously in the previous cholera epidemic will relieve it very much.

Eugene then spoke of the money that had been collected in the previous epidemic of 1835, and how those funds had been misused and never reached the intended victims.

Meanwhile, the poor are relying on the bishop’s house, and soon we will be reduced to selling our silverware to help them, since we have not received a cent from all those philanthropic collections whose proceeds are disappearing into a fund where I think they put them. There is a universal complaint in the city, regarding the misappropriation; and yet, many a man who would not give a hundred sous to his pastor, glories in seeing his name pompously inscribed on a published list for a hundred francs and sometimes less. [ed: 5 sous made 1 franc]

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 7 September 1837, EO XVIII

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ORAISON: PRAYING WITH THE MAZENODIAN FAMILY ON MARCH    15

In the prolonged silent prayer we make each day, we let ourselves be molded by the Lord, and find in him the inspiration of our conduct” (OMI Rule of Life, 33).   

The practice of Oraison was an important part of St. Eugene’s daily prayer during which he entered into communion with the members of his missionary family. While they were all in France it was easy for them to gather in prayer at approximately the same time. When Oblate missionaries started to be sent to different continents it was no longer possible to pray at the same time, yet each day there was a time when they stopped and prayed in union with one another – even though not at the same time.   

This is a practice that Eugene wanted the members of his religious family to maintain. This is why you are invited to take part in this practice of Oraison on Sunday, March 15, 2020, as we remember feast of St. Joseph, protector of the Congregation. 

From the Dictionary of Oblate Values:

Icon written by Oblate Partner, Lauretta Agolli

It would seem that one has to see this devotion as being associated to his vision of the Church, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, a vision which extended beyond the limits of the Church here on earth and led him to enter into constant communion with the Church of heaven. This was the source of his deep devotion to the saints, especially to Mary Immaculate and as Father Toussaint Rambert wrote: “immediately after the Blessed Virgin, Saint Joseph held first place in his heart”. relationship with the Savior and Mary Immaculate, the Servant of God’s two greatest devotions. 

In addition, we see him having constant recourse to his intercession, confiding to him the material interests of his Congregation, the recruiting of vocations, the health of missionaries, the success of their apostolate, the success of General Chapters which he officially placed “under the patronage of Saint Joseph, our beloved Patron”; he often placed our houses under his protection, “after that of the Holy Virgin who is always to be the first patron of our houses”.  

Matthew 2,13-14;19-21: 

Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt…When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 

From a letter of St. Eugene to Fr. Eugene Guigues:

I believe his soul more excellent than all the celestial intelligences, above which it is indubitably placed in heaven. In that blessed abode Jesus Christ, Mary and Joseph are just as inseparable as they were on earth…I am quite persuaded as well that the body of St. Joseph is already in glory and that is where it is meant to be for all time. Speaking of his soul close to Jesus and Mary I said it was: above the choirs of angels 

From a letter of St. Eugene to Fr. Vincens: 

Concerning prayers, I must tell you that several of our Fathers want me to ordain a daily invocation to St. Joseph, foster father of the Holy Family, to obtain that from Heaven above he may provide for the temporal needs of the Congregation which recognizes him as principal Patron. Not that we want to become rich, but that we may provide for the needs of those whom Providence sends us. 

From a letter of St. Eugene to his father: 

On the morning of St. Joseph’s feast day I was close to the end; and as if my holy patron had wished to show me the effect of his powerful protection that was being invoked for me on all sides, that very evening I took a turn for the better with astonishing rapidity.  The next day or the day after that there was no longer any danger. 

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LET ANYONE DARE TO COME AND PREACH TO US A SPECULATIVE LOVE, DEPRIVED OF SENTIMENT AND WITHOUT AFFECTION

Eugene reacts, in his private diary, to those who think only with their heads and not their hearts.

He knew and loved Scripture, and in this text we see him freely using texts from the First Letter of John, chapters 3 and 4.

After the coming of Jesus Christ, the example of Saint Peter, and the teachings of Saint John, they still present to us a type of perfection, more worthy of stoics than true Christians! Let us love God because of his infinite perfections, let us love him also because he first loved us, “but that he loved us first,” but “since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another”, and notice well: “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech,” like all those who love with the head, “but in truth and action”.
Oh! no! “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love”. And to show that such love is not speculation and abstraction about a person, and it is so true that we must know how to love here below, in order to promise to love God for whom, in a true sense, we love his creatures, that the Apostle tells us: “for those who do not love a brother whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”
There is no middle way: “The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers.” Let them study Saint John, let them delve into the heart of Saint Peter and his love for his divine master, let them especially examine everything that emanates from the so-loving heart of Jesus Christ, not only for all men, but especially his apostles and disciples, and then let anyone dare to come and preach to us a speculative love, deprived of sentiment and without affection!

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 4 September 1837, EO XVIII

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THE HEART OF JESUS CHRIST WHO HAS FORMED, ANIMATES AND INSPIRES MINE

Continuing to refect on his grief at Dauphin’s death by cholera, Eugene reveals the role of the love of Jesus, represented in the Sacred Heart, in his own life and ministry:

People will understand from this that I am far from wanting to deny or merely hide the sentiments that animate me. Let the one who would blame me, know that I have little regard for his judgment and that I would make every effort to prove to him that I have every reason to thank God, for having given me a heart capable of better understanding that of Jesus Christ our master, who has formed, animates and inspires mine, than all those cold and egotistical intellectuals, who apparently place the heart in the brain, and do not know how to love anyone since, in the final analysis, they love only themselves.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 4 September 1837, EO XVIII

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I DECLARE THAT I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW SOMEONE CAN LOVE GOD, IF THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO LOVE PEOPLE WORTHY OF BEING LOVED

Eugene’s outpouring of his personal grief, in his private journal, at the suffering and death of Dauphin who had been a domestic servant at the Bishop’s house in Marseilles. Although he had stopped working there for a number of years, he had remained in contact with Eugene.

I said Mass for poor Dauphin. In this way I can show him my gratitude for his attachment to me. I would have been willing to go to any expense to save his life. Now, through my prayers, I would like to introduce him into glory as soon as possible.
Barri, whom I saw today, confirmed what I already knew of this dear Dauphin’s dedication, more than anyone could imagine. He told me every time we met, that he would go through fire for me, that he loved me more than anyone else. It was a pure effect of his gratitude, for sometimes we would not have contact for a whole year. I ease my sorrow at the loss of that faithful and dear servant by writing down these things. I write them only for myself. If someone else happens to read them, let him not accuse me of weakness.

Eugene’s explanation of his sentiments is a powerful affirmation of God’s love.

I accept every suffering, but do not blush at very deeply feeling the loss of those who truly love me, and whom I so rightly love on my part, as my so-loving heart knows well how to do. This is not at all a scandal. I declare that I do not understand how someone can love God, if they do not know how to love people worthy of being loved.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 4 September 1837, EO XVIII

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I AM NOT AFRAID TO EXPRESS WHAT I FEEL… DID OUR DIVINE SAVIOUR NOT WEEP OVER LAZARUS?

Eugene’s personal journal continues to give us glimpses into how he handled suffering. The occasion was his former servant, Dauphin, dying of cholera.

Dauphin is still alive, but is steadily becoming worse, I just said Mass for him. Father Tempier was called to receive the last breath of Lamberte, an excellent woman, devoted to the interests of the house, and entirely at the service of the Calvaire. She took care of our dear Father Marcou in his last illness, we are suffering a great loss.
I am not afraid to express what I feel; why should people not know that we are not ungrateful? Did Our Divine Saviour not weep over Lazarus, is not his heart a prototype of our own? Oh! Yes, I love with a true, sincere and tender affection, everyone who loves me; I am saddened, I weep over the loss of all those devoted to me, to our members or our holy endeavour!
I am horrified at egotistical people, insensible hearts, who take everything to themselves and give nothing in return for what people give them. The more I study the heart of Jesus Christ, the more I meditate on the actions of his precious life, the more am I convinced that I am right and they are wrong, and the more I thank the Lord for giving me this light, and a soul capable of understanding and appreciating these things.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 2 September 1837, EO XVIII

What an inspiration for us to “study the heart of Jesus Christ”!

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THERE IS NOTHING MORE REASSURING THAN TO BE WHERE THE GOOD LORD PLACES YOU

God’s protection for the ministers of mercy was evident:

 The priests are doing their duty well, none of our priests has had the slightest sickness to date. I hope the good Lord will preserve them as he has done at other times.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 26 August 1837, EO IX n 637

Meanwhile, Father Courtès, in Aix en Provence, was frightened at the prospects of the epidemic reaching them in Aix.

Courage, my good Courtès, there is nothing more reassuring than to be where the good Lord places you. You and I, and all of us, are assured of doing the Master’s will, to whom eternity as well as time belong.
 Let us fear nothing; my only concern or rather my greatest concern for you is that I am far from you. The confidence the good Lord gives me will reassure you; those who surround me share it very simply.
This condition is necessary for morale; consider that there is not one priest in Marseilles, whatever his constitution may be, who has experienced the least attack, even though several among them are, so to speak. breathing only the air of the cholera patients day and night.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 1 September 1837, EO IX n 640

An encouragement to us when we are frightened by seemingly-hopeless situations.

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