“A pastor of the Fréjus diocese asked for a mission in his parish and Father de Mazenod upset his whole apostolic plan in order to respond to this good pastor. He wrote to the Bishop of Fréjus to ask for the necessary powers. There was not much time; the reply was long in coming and when it did arrive, it was overwhelming for Reverend Father de Mazenod. The Bishop had refused in very stern terms.” Yenveux V. 68

Fifteen years earlier, the young Father Eugene would have exploded and told the bishop his fortune. Now we come across a more mature Eugene who reacted differently.

I was deeply afflicted on receiving your letter; and God gave me the grace not to wait even a second to place all the bitterness of this outrage at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. I raise my objection to no one but yourself, for I am afraid of losing the merit of this ordeal. They know at Aix, at Gap, Nimes and Marseilles that a pastor from your diocese has called upon our Missionaries and that they were rejected by the Bishop.

Letter to Bishop C.A. de Richery of Fréjus, 26 January 1828, EO XIII, n 63


“Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity. Wherever you go, ask God for wisdom on how to get that Gospel in, even in the toughest situations of life.”   Ravi Zacharias

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Yesterday I found myself on the receiving end of a comment that was mean and belittling, aimed to do just that. The comment did not embarrass me as much as it seemed to the others who were witnesses. That the person making the comment is well-known for this type of behaviour did not me feel any better. Instead the hurt manifested itself in anger and I had to leave or else I might retaliate – because thats what I wanted to do. The retelling of the incident would not relieve any of the hurt and I would hope that this morning or maybe tomorrow (or next week or whenever) would have brought me to the point of praying for that person. But knowing there is mental illness or even just ‘praying’ for the person is sometimes not enough.

    This morning, waking and coming to this place – it is as if God has seen my little pain (that could so easily become an unscalable mountain) and inspired the offering, the gift of Eugene’s experience. As I have reflected – just saying to God that I am praying for the other is not enough. I need to lay this person at the foot of the Cross and then stay there – not wash my hands of them, but stay there with them. It seems to demand a conscious act. For some reason the story of the good Samaritan comes to mind. For it was not enough to just pick up the man from the road and rinse his wounds. That must love and care must extend to carrying him and ensuring for his care.

    If I hold onto my hurt it will become only anger and outrage, uncontrollable and deadly to all it touches. But if I lay it at the foot of the cross then, and only then will I find solace and healing. It must be intentional and actual. This is a deeper, fuller and more honest way of loving. I want to say ‘damn’ to it but to do so would be to close off my own heart and so must ask God for the courage and strength to do even this.

  2. David Morgan says:

    I am puzzling over why a Bishop would refuse an offer of a mission event in one of his parishes based on the request for same by the Parish priest involved. It makes me wonder if this is still happening today? I guess I am somewhat naive about our “human differences” and perceived need for control that lead us all to have disagreements like this from time to time.

    I realize there is a history of disagreement between St Eugene and Bishop de Richery of Frejus. Nonetheless, it’s only a mission event presumably to rejuvenate a parish community. Why would a bishop refuse? Is it about control and legacy? Do I act like this at times? Placing the mystery of it all at the foot of the cross for Jesus healing is something I will ponder and do too.

  3. Astrid says:

    I am struck by the story of St. Eugene de Mazenod. He has been so present in my life and yet I did not know much about his. I knew that the Oblates were missionaries because it was through their missions that I met them. I am also loving Eugene’s conversion story because it felt very familiar to an experience I had during last year’s Easter mass in which we were asked what was different about that particular Easter. My answer was that for the first time I was able to fully understand that Jesus was in pain. That understanding of his humanity was enough to bring me to tears. It really hurt him. This concept of pain and turning to the cross, as mentioned above, “Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity” has me thinking of how for certain cultures, including my Mexican culture, the crucified Christ is so important. They identify with Jesus as the crucified Christ. They feel his pain. Unfortunately, I don’t think we are reminded enough as a culture that he resurrected and that the resurrection brings us hope. I wish there was a way to carry that message to so many that feel hopeless and defeated, to all those that feel abandoned and alone. When I met the Oblates in the slums of Tijuana they were the resurrected Christ for the people. They were bringing hope to those that felt that God had forsaken them. They were truly Christ for others.

  4. John Mouck says:

    We are all convinced we are doing the “right” thing even if others don’t see it that way. I’m sure Eugene felt that way as did the bishop. I think that what we each truly believe is the best action is always shaded with ego. That is just one of our human frailties. Eugene was responding to a request from the parish priest. We don’t know the bishop’s reasoning on his refusal.
    As Thomas Merton said:

    “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

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