EUGENE AND THE HISTORY OF FRANCE: THE HUNDRED DAYS

The euphoria of the fall of Napoleon and the consequent freedom of the Church came to an abrupt end in March 1815 when Napoleon escaped from Elba and  began to rule again in Paris.

Eugene responded to this situation with vigor.

… However low my opinion of the human race, I would never have gone so far as to suppose it could sink so low as we see it now. What a nation we are! Along with faith, it has lost all sense of honour, probity, etc. One group openly betrays the most sacred of causes; they give their oath only the better to deceive an all too generous Prince who had heaped these traitors with favours and benefactions; the rest would almost be tempted to sta nd by as unruffled spectators of a struggle that scarcely seems to interest them, although their happiness depends on it. Egoism has lead to total aridity, national honour has gone by the board along with religion. What a despicable people! But we must be fair; it is the army who are guilty of this crime rather than the nation. You can see this clearly in these parts and in several other provinces.
I have only time to assure you we are well, that I am the calmest of men and the one least alarmed. My trust in Providence is unlimited.

Eugene backed his criticism with action:

I have written His Grace the Duke of Angouleme to offer him my services for his troops. I have not heard a thing in reply, perhaps I never will; but I have done my duty, which required of me this act of allegiance. Not being able to serve my King with a sword, I must serve him with every means my ministry gives me.
Goodbye, I send you all my affectionate greetings. Within a month we shall have beaten and punished all our enemies, who are those too of honour, the common good, and religion.

Letter to his father, 26 March 1815, EO XV, n 132

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EUGENE AND THE HISTORY OF FRANCE: I SHOWED MYSELF THE MOST FEARLESS ROYALIST OF THE CITY

The restoration of the monarchy and the resulting freedom given to the Church marked the period known as the Restoration. The two Bourbon kings who ruled were Louis XVIII (1814-1824) and Charles X (1824 – 1830). Yvon Beaudoin writes:

Father de Mazenod rarely used the word restoration, but he often mentions by name the kings Louis XVIII and Charles X. He exchanged correspondence with their ministers and met a few of them in the course of his trips to Paris in 1817, 1823 and 1825. It was with joy that he and the Mazenods greeted the return of the Bourbons in 1814. President Charles Anthony sent the king an act of homage and his oath of fidelity. During the Hundred Days, Eugene distinguished himself by displaying a fiery hostility to the Napoleonic regime. On July 7, 1815, he wrote his father:

I showed myself the most fearless royalist of the city where I live and there are perhaps few in France who can gainsay me on that point.

http://www.omiworld.org/en/dictionary/historical-dictionary_vol-1_r/933/restoration/

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THE SPIRIT OF EUGENE EXPRESSED WITHIN THE HISTORY OF FRANCE IS THE SAME SPIRIT THAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE US TODAY IN OUR MULTIPLE HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL CONTEXTS

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1) in a specific historical context in a time and place. In order to understand the message of Jesus we need to understand the context in which it happened – and then interpret the message for our own times and historical situations. The same principle applies to Eugene de Mazenod. The charism that God gave him was within a specific historical context in France. To understand the charism deeply we need to understand how and why it was expressed in this way within the history of France. The spirit of the words and actions reflected in our daily “Eugene de Mazenod Speaks to us” is the same spirit that continues to inspire us today in many different contexts.

This is why I began a series of presentations on Eugene and the history of France.

What a rich background to his life the events in France formed! Born in the nobility Eugene benefited fully from the Ancien Regime, and shared its fate when the French Revolution swept it away. Eleven years of exile followed, in which this adolescent and young adult was buffeted by the violent changing forces in Europe. Finally, with Napoleon on the throne, it became possible to return to France and resume the lifestyle of a rich young nobleman. It is here that God intervened and called Eugene to respond within the context of Napoleon’s persecution of the Church and of the religious ignorance and indifference of the people. Understanding the historical context, we understand and appreciate our Mazenodian charism and its message better.

I invite you to re-read the entries on the history of France which began on 14 March 2017 (http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?paged=3). The series was interrupted by Holy Week and my summer break. Tomorrow we continue the journey…

(http://mcbridewcperiodone.pbwiki.com/f/fr-chart.gif)

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SUMMER BREAK

Due to the hectic activities around the end of the academic year at Oblate School of Theology, and my summer break, this service will be paused until June 12.

A reminder that all 1640 previous entries can be consulted on this site: www.eugenedemazenod.net

By using the search engine on the homepage you can find entries dealing with specific themes.

Thank you for your support of this daily blog.

Frank Santucci OMI

Kusenberger Chair of Oblate Studies
Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, Texas

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EUGENE AND THE RESURRECTION: DESIRING THAT THOSE IN WHOM HE CONTINUES TO SUFFER WILL KNOW ALSO THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION

Through the eyes of our crucified Saviour we see the world which he redeemed with his blood, desiring that those in whom he continues to suffer will know also the power of his resurrection (cf. Phil 3: 10).

CC&RR, Constitution 4

From his earliest preaching Eugene constantly invited the poor to understand the transforming invitation of the resurrection in their lives.

Come now and learn from us what you are in the eyes of faith.
Poor of Jesus Christ, afflicted, wretched, suffering, sick, covered with sores, etc., all you whom misery oppresses, my brothers, dear brothers, respected brothers, listen to me.
You are God’s children, the brothers of Jesus Christ, heirs to his eternal kingdom, chosen portion of his inheritance; you are, in the words of St. Peter, a holy nation, you are kings, you are priests, you are in some way gods, You are gods, children of the Most High.
So lift up your spirits, that your defeated souls may breathe, grovel no longer on the ground: You are gods, children of the Most High. (Ps. 81:6).
Lift yourselves towards heaven where your minds should be set, our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), let your eyes see for once beneath the rags that cover you, there is within you an immortal soul made in the image of God whom it is destined to possess one day, a soul ransomed at the price of the blood of Jesus Christ, more precious in the eyes of God than all earth’s riches, than all the kingdoms of the earth, a soul of which he is more jealous than of the government of the entire universe.
Christians, know then your dignity, with St. Leo I will call you sharers in the divine nature,

Notes for the first instruction in the Church of the Madeleine, EO XV n. 114

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EUGENE AND THE RESURRECTION: FROM THE CROSS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION

Eugene’s Good Friday experience did not leave him standing at the foot of the Cross. The focus of his life had changed, and it became a continuous Easter – responding to the light of the Risen Christ’s, “I am with you always.”

Never was my soul more satisfied, never did it feel such happiness; for in the midst of this flood of tears, despite my grief, or rather because of my grief, my soul took wings towards its final end, towards God its only good whose loss it felt so keenly. Why say more? Could I ever express what I experienced then? Just the memory of it fills my heart with a sweet consolation.
Thus I had looked for happiness outside of God, and outside of him I found only affliction and vexation. Blessed, a thousand times blessed, that he, this good Father who, notwithstanding my unworthiness, lavished on me all the richness of his mercy.
Let me at least make up for lost time by redoubling my love for him. May all my actions, thoughts, etc., be directed towards that end. What more glorious occupation than to act in everything and for everything only for God, to love him above all else, to love him all the more as one who has loved him too late.
Ah! The happiness of heaven begins here below. This is the true way to glorify him as he wants.

Retreat Journal, December 1814, EO XV n.130

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EUGENE AND THE RESURRECTION: I WENT IN SPIRIT THROUGH THE CHURCHES OF THE WHOLE EARTH, WHERE AT THE SAME MOMENT THE VAULTS WERE RESOUNDING WITH THE PRAISES OF THE RISEN LORD

Eugene continues to describe his joyful Easter celebration at the seminary:

I went in spirit through the churches of the whole earth, where at the same moment the vaults were resounding with the praises of the Risen Lord.
I was in Aix, I was in Rome, I was in China, everywhere I encountered the same transports of joy for the same reason. Not content with this experience of harmony with every Christian scattered over the face of the earth, I dared to penetrate heaven itself. I was not slow to grasp that all that captivated me here below was but a feeble echo of the joy, the inexpressible happiness, that animated all the blessed on that day that the Lord had made. How great is the heart of a Christian, how many things it grasps simultaneously, it seems at first as if the least consolation will fill it and it is about to burst; not at all, it is always capable of containing more, when full to bursting it still wants more, but this insatiable appetite will be satisfied only in heaven.

Letter to his mother, 4 April 1809, EO XIV n 50

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EUGENE AND THE RESURRECTION: THE SOUNDS OF JOY THAT RE-ECHOED IN MY EARS AND PENETRATED TO THE DEPTHS OF MY HEART

 

Easter Day found us in the Church at 4:00 a.m. to sing Matins, Lauds and Prime. After Prime, a first High Mass was sung at which the seminary received communion…
We returned at 10:45 for the second High Mass at which I was again the cross-bearer. The ceremony did not finish until 1:30. Vespers began at 4:00 p.m., then the sermon, then benediction, in short we did not get back to the seminary until 8:30. Adding up all these hours you will see it works out at twelve, but you would have a job to work out the amount of happiness I felt during this time that seemed to me to flash by like a minute.
 I was so happy, in the superb Temple I found myself in, at the sounds of joy that re-echoed in my ears and penetrated to the depths of my heart;

Letter to his mother, 4 April 1809, EO XIV n 50

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EUGENE AND THE RESURRECTION: GRATITUDE MUST FILL OUR HEARTS AT THE THOUGHT THAT THIS GOOD MASTER HAS REALLY WILLED TO MAKE US SHARERS IN HIS RESURRECTION

Eugene describes his joy at his first Easter celebration as a seminarian at Saint Sulpice.

What a ravishing ceremony for Christians, how the heart was bursting, what joy as one joined with the whole Church of heaven and earth to celebrate the glorious Resurrection of Our Saviour.
 After journeying with him through the sad event of his Passion, after weeping over the torments that our sins made him endure, how consoling it is to see him rise triumphant over death and hell, and what gratitude must fill our hearts at the thought that this good Master has really willed to make us sharers in his resurrection, destroying the sin that is in us and giving us a new life.
That day we spent a good twelve hours in Church, I would not have wanted it to be a minute less. It was like being in heaven; so what are the joy and happiness we experience in that blessed homeland going to be like?

Letter to his mother, 4 April 1809, EO XIV n 50

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LIVING HOLY WEEK WITH SAINT EUGENE: GOOD FRIDAY – CAN I FORGET THE SIGHT OF THE CROSS?

 Can I forget the bitter tears that the sight of the cross brought streaming from my eyes one Good Friday?

Retreat Journal, December 1814, EO XV n.130

Can I forget … the sight of the cross?” asks Eugene?

Every action of his life, every time that he preached the Gospel, every time that he held out his hands to the poor and most abandoned, it was a proclamation of: “Never can I forget the sight of the cross!”

It is the only distinctive sign that he gave to the Oblates – under which every aspect of our lives is to unfold: “Never forget the sight of the cross!”

Through the eyes of the Crucified Savior” is the only point of view through which the Mazenodian family is called to see the world: “Never forget the sight of the cross!”

At the very end of his life, Father Tempier wrote to the Oblates: “It is not possible to tell you the example he gave, the sentiments he manifested during these three days [of preparing himself for the Sacrament of the sick]. We consider it a special grace to have seen and heard what we did. He cried out:

I am on the cross. I gladly stay on the cross and offer my sufferings to God for my dear Oblates

Circular letter no. 2 of January 29, 1861 in Oblate Writings II, vol. 2, no. 116.

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