Describing the mission at Eyguières, Eugene gives the reason for their being tired:

Our work is endlessly demanding and without the least respite… So we have to go beyond our strength, we are in the confessional until a quarter to midnight, and at that late hour when we have to go up for something to eat, we are obliged to send people away.

In the parish missions, the preaching aimed at instructing the people and then bringing them to a deep sacramental encounter with God. The individual time spent with each penitent gave the Missionaries the opportunity to help each one to come to reconciliation with God and with one another, and consequently to live a more peace-filled life. The Missionaries never rushed the confessions, but gave to each person the time that was required. Here the five Missionaries seemed to have called in help from two other priests for this important work, and still they were not enough.

It is nonetheless true that seven priests will have confessed from half past five in the morning until midnight for five weeks an enormous crowd of sinners who would not have budged without the mission, as they admit themselves and as it is easy to believe from the experience of the past, and these seven priests will leave at their departure a great number of penitents full of good will, whom they will not have been able to confess, to the pastor who will direct them in the ways of salvation.
Pray that we can finish a task so difficult for the body, but so consoling for souls who have a spark of love for God, and try to be priestly enough.

Letter to the community in Aix, 7 March 1819, O.W. VI n 41


The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.     Nhat Hanh

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “Pray that we can finish a task so difficult for the body, but so consoling for souls who have a spark of love for God, and try to be priestly enough.” I love the part about “so consoling for souls who have a spark of love for God…..” I remember as a child we went to ‘confession’ and knew it as ‘penance’. It was back then, a time of going to the priest with a long list of incredibly horrid sins such as murder and adultry. There was always a competition with my school mates to see who got the ‘biggest’ penance and if the priest recognized our voices.

    It was not until I joined AA and discovered the 4th Step that I began to realise how great a gift the Sacrament of Reconciliation could be. The 4th Step allowed me to speak about, share and get ‘outside of myself’ all the things that I had done that brought guilt and shame and sorrow. And then in coming back into the Church (after Vatican II had taken place) and rediscovering this ‘new’ Sacrament called Reconciliation! To be able to speak it out, with sorrow and shame while at the same time knowing and trusting there would be forgiveness, healing and the ability to let go and move forward in real and lasting love. This has ‘worked’ in my life where nothing else that I tried.

    I can fully understand those people who would come to Eugene and his brothers. Their need to be able to finally speak of their own pain and sorrows, along with their doubts and fears would certainly not be a 2 minute exercise – they would each need to take as long as was needed and so those priests who were hearing their confessions and administering the sacrament were giving of themselves in a very special way. What a gift is that! To love so much that you give your all. Co-operators of Christ our Saviour indeed.

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions. Nhat Hanh
    We are artist not professional who have to get it perfect.
    So often in our “western culture” that is rooted in “capitalism” we look at production, time cards, operating procedures and “norms”. The Spiritual Life is an “Art” and a “Practice”. To simply breath that in and let it go simply and slowly will ground us in this reality.
    Another a great quote. At lease for me, I find readings for other traditions as a way of seeing with new eyes. This has also deeply enriched me and has given me greater appreciation in Catholic Tradition. Remember, Catholic does not mean western! We ought to also get to now the Wisdom of the Mothers and Fathers of the East, North and the South.
    Yes the Spark. Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, 18h Century Jewish Mystic speaks of this poetically in his writing. When we can see in each other the Face of God/and realize that we together are One in the Body of Christ, spending time with the other only make sense. For when we part of the healing the other, we heal ourselves. And yes, healing is an Art, it take vision, creativity and passion.
    And so glad to know that I follow in the traditions of our brothers who would listen a bit longer and allow people to share the story and context during Reconciliation. And then “craft” a reply that would acknowledge the Spark that is already there.

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