A spirituality is the result of a precise focus that brings together a specific light and gives a particular meaning to a person or group. “Spirituality” then refers to the totality of the expression of the focus and of its effects.

At school I was always fascinated by the idea of a focal point, and how the white light that shone through a particular point of a prism would come out colored on the other side. This fascination did, in later life, provide me a key to be able to understanding the dynamic that gave meaning to Eugene’s life. It was the growing realization of God’s love for him, eventually understood and expressed as he looked at the cross one Good Friday. This was the pure “white light” that shone into his life, and was transformed into the many colors of the next 55 years of his life, and into the 200 years of Oblate mission.

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

… 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 through my grief, my soul took wings for its last end, towards God its only good whose loss it felt so keenly

… May all my actions, thoughts, etc., be directed to 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.

Retreat Journal, December 1814, O.W. XV n.130

(cf https://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=191 and following entries for the text)

This event was to become the focal point of Eugene’s life – the prism of his life. As he received the light of Jesus Crucified into his life, it became the focal point through which he experienced the multiple colors of salvation and brought others to his same experience.

I wish you to change the end of our litanies; instead of saying “Jesus, priest,” we must say “Christ, savior.” That is the aspect under which we ought to contemplate our divine Master.

Our particular vocation is such that we are associated in a special manner with the redemption of men.

Letter addressed to “our dear brothers, the missionaries at Aix”,
July 1816, O.W. VI n 12

Our Rule of Life captures this focus for us: “Through the eyes of our crucified Savior 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).”

As I reflect on the central forming experience of Eugene’s life, what is the focal point of my experience of God? What is the origin of the light that shines in and through my life?


“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Graham Bell

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I have found myself getting caught up in words this morning, being quite unable to relate in a very personal way to some of what Frank has written but still able to recognize the experience he speaks of and that of Eugene. At first I began to think that there was something wrong with me, with my spirituality and my being. Siting for an hour; images and thoughts mingling and passing before my minds eye that could be described by two words. Both relating to my experience of Jesus and of the Cross. I find it interesting and quite remarkable; lover, death, new life, one within lover. I am not embarrassed to say that it is Jesus and the cross that contains and show the light through my life, but am rather filled with joyous awe and thanks.

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