The sight of the cross made Eugene realize:

I was in a state of mortal sin and it was precisely this that made me grieve.

The etymology of “mortal” is that it is connected with death. Mortal sin is sin that has led to the death of a person’s relationship with God. What was Eugene’s mortal sin? Was it an action that he had done? Was it a habitual state of sinful actions? We will never know, and he is entitled to his privacy. The Good Friday text itself, however, invites me to find the answer within the text.

What did the sight of the cross reveal to Eugene that was mortal about his relationship with God? The key is “I looked for happiness outside of God.” He describes his “wounded, tormented heart” because he had “turned away” from God.

Can I forget the bitter tears that the sight of the cross brought streaming from my eyes one Good Friday? Indeed they welled up from the heart, there was no checking them… I was in a state of mortal sin and it was precisely this that made me grieve.

Here we find the opening of his eyes, the moment of definitive conversion, the choice of God’s life and not death.

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.

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

The sight of God’s love on the cross had transformed Eugene. His wounded, tormented heart had been touched by the love of God. With Paul he could proclaim: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Romans 8:32-35


“The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed.”   J. Krishnamurti

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The Cross, Jesus on the Cross. It is assuredly the definitive sign of immense and most perfect love. That anyone should die for another is the ultimate in loving, immeasurable for it is everything.

    I think of the little thorns that surround the head of my Lord as he hangs on the cross. I think of the small barbs of pain that can be delivered to us by one another. So many that that after a time they seem to be relentless and feel like one great big spike cracking open our hearts. I think of my ‘drinking problem’. It was not the one or two little sips that did me in, but rather the continuous little sips that became gulps and then eventually I found myself drowning in them, with no way to stop.

    Imagine what it is to walk away from love, from that which gives you all the life that you have. One little step at a time. And then when that only brings heartbreak and emptiness to turn back. To hear the voice of your beloved say your name, to look into the eyes of your beloved and see the loss, sorrow and pain that your turning away caused while at the same time seeing a love so immense and pure, so tender and merciful that it transforms the very darkness of the blackest night into perfect light. It eclipses all else. And then to turn away again, for smaller periods but nevertheless to turn away, to sin. And each time we look back, run back and throw ourselves into an embrace which is tenderness and mercy. After a while we no longer think to measure how far we turned away, or how often, or look for any points of measurability. It becomes all quite deadly. Even as we recognize and experience our own pain of sinning we are enveloped in even greater tenderness and mercy.

    This is to look into the eyes of our crucified Saviour. To look into the eyes of my most Beloved – he who is the beginning and the end of my very being. To look through the eyes of sweet forgiveness and total acceptance. The transformation is ongoing, the conversion is ongoing and lifelong.

    The Cross, ever before me reminds me, causes me to stop and ‘be’ and see who I am. Have mercy on me Lord for I am a sinner. In spite of the Cross and all that you have done, your very death and resurrection, still I am a sinner. Lift me up that I might be there by your side on the cross. I do not understand at all why, I know only that it is this that I want.

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