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