In his role as a director of the prison charity, Eugene became well known to the Archbishop of Aix and was treated by him as a son. Rey tells us how Eugene became a regular participant in the prayers and chanting of the Divine Office in the Cathedral.

“He used to take his place in the large choir in the area where the stalls were accessible to men. One day, during the divine office, some of the onlookers had not behaved in a manner suitable for a holy place. After Mass, the master of ceremonies came to tell the occupants of the stalls, regardless of who they were, that they were no longer to go to these stalls – by order of the Archbishop. Eugene left the church, visibly upset, but resigned to obey authority. When he returned home he was surprised to find a letter from the Archbishop, giving him a special favor: the right to take his place in the stalls where the clergy prayed. He immediately went to the Archbishop to thank him for having made him a “mini-canon.”

He had a certain claim to this title, not only because of his regular attendance at the services, but even more because of the part he played in the singing and in all the prayers. On Sundays and feast days he attended the canonical hours and chanted the psalms with the canons. God had given him a clear voice, very precise and very pleasant; Eugene liked to devote it to the Church’s hymns, which he regarded as more important than all other songs.”     Rey I p. 50-51

Four years earlier, Eugene’s letters had been full of the pleasures of Aix: theater, singing, dancing, parties etc. It is clear that something had changed in his life. We are witnessing  a 25 year-old fully on the journey of conversion!

Finally, Eugene is allowing God to be the author of his life. As I reflect on this, I want to remove my shoes because I am on holy ground… the sacred space of Mazenodian spirituality where God writes the story.


“Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something.”   Ralph Marston

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    A thought – if we, if I spend my time looking only at how my life has been a moving ‘away from’ something, I will miss seeing that which is truly magnificent, uplifting and joyful. I might just get ‘stuck’ in what was and so miss what is, how I am moving towards something. ‘Let it go’ a small voice whispers and I realise that still I am holding on to something that I no longer need to carry. It’s time to move forward and set that particular wound in its place of the past. It’s time to turn towards the light.

    I have to thank you Frank for all that you give to us. In spite of what you have been feeding us over the past the month or so there has been a part of me that has held onto the view that Eugene ‘magically changed and was transformed overnight’, black and white with no shades of the grey of life. Here today I begin to experience a very real glimmer of awareness of the transformation that begins to colour the ordinary of his life. The fire of his love for God has been lit and though not yet intense the sparks begin as a fire slowly catches. There is a grace in learning this for it allows me to look at my own life and see the gradual transformation which is still ongoing.

    As we all come together in this Mazenodian family there is not a dilution of what Eugene has given to us, what he has shared with us but very much a strengthening and building of the charism as we each add and share our own spirits. It is this that I carry with me into our last day of retreat.

    The idea of this being holy ground brings a deep sense of awe and joy, for if this space of Mazenodian spirituality be sacred then we are all a part of it – God is continuing to write our ever-evolving story.

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