Why say more? Could I ever express what I experienced then?
Just the memory of it fills my heart with a sweet satisfaction…
In words, he could not ever express what the experience did to him, but in action he could.
Blessed, a thousand times blessed, that he, this good Father, notwithstanding my unworthiness, lavished on me all the richness of his mercy.
The sight of the cross, proof of the love of God lavished on Eugene, called forth love as a response.
Let me at least make up for lost time by redoubling my love for him. 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. Ah! this is to begin already here below the blessed life of heaven. That is the true way to glorify him as he wants.
Retreat Journal, December 1814, O.W. XV n.130
For the rest of his life Eugene would use the word “oblation” to describe love responding to love. His first major gesture of oblation was his decision to become a priest. Just a few hours before his priestly ordination, he recalled his conversion experience and responded in love:
O blindness! Forever blessed, O my God, be the sweet violence that in the end you did to me! Without this masterstroke, I would still be wallowing in my sewer or perhaps have perished there; and in that case, what would have become of my soul? O my God, don’t I have every reason to devote myself entirely to your service, to offer you my life and all that I am, so that all that is in me may be employed and spent for your glory?
Retreat notes before his ordination, December 1811, O.W. XIV n.95
“Where there is no love, put love — and you will find love.” John of the Cross
Sometimes in coming here I idly wonder just how greatly do I really love God. I wonder if my ‘efforts’ (my doings) are quite good enough, great enough, enough… I wonder just how good is my love; when if it were to be measured, would show that percentage wise I do not spend every waking moment thinking of my most precious Love. And I have to acknowledge that I am so very human, indeed at most times I am weak and in need of constant direction and guidance. And yet… and yet God loves me so greatly.
Yesterday as our pastor spoke about Saints and saints, how we are all saints, simply because God loves us. I sat there and at one point found I was clutching my cross, not harshly or hardly, but rather wrapping my hand around it as one would to embrace something small. It was an instinctive small act as I listened to words and connected with the idea of being loved by God and so then being able to respond with loving God back. It would seem we are quite unable to do other than to love back. It would seem that our only response to love can be to love. Our oblations, our giving of ourselves over to God, to infinite tenderness and mercy might not look very perfect or steadfast. I don’t imagine that Eugene’s did to him either. I will not spend too much time though worrying and measuring my sin and weaknesses. I will acknowledge them (many times over) but will try to focus though on the good and all that I am given and move out from that.
I sit this morning with the words of Eugene, the words of Frank and the words of St. John of the Cross. They all seem to be able to express so well where my heart lies and it would nice if I could speak and write as do they. But the truth is I can’t – not that I am not there yet for I am right where God would have me be. I think of the drawing of my heart that I did some years ago when I was asked to draw a symbol which would be a sign of who I was. I drew a heart (not perfectly shaped) and from within it was a cross which was visible and yet encased within my heart and there were many cracks and little holes in my heart with edges that were black and yet an incredible light shone from within it, coming from the cross itself.
I have not the words to respond adequately to what is shared here with us each morning, but know Frank that it does not fall on deaf ears or stone hearts. In sharing what you do, you help to bring into focus this magnificent Cross in such a way that you and Eugene guide us into being able to look at our own hearts and to see the invitation to love.