As we reflect on Eugene’s spirituality, and on our own, his writings and life point to one constant: his ongoing existential relationship with Jesus Christ the Savior expressed in daily life.
Firstly he experienced and related to the God he perceived and understood through the eyes of the Crucified Savior: the God who is Love and invites to a life of full unity.
Secondly, he expressed this relationship by seeing the world and its people through the same perspective: people to be loved and served as the Savior did, and to be brought to knowledge and relationship with the Him.
Eugene’s principal method was the practice of the presence of God, which he referred to often. In 1812 he was appointed to the staff of St Sulpice seminary for a semester to take the place of the Sulpicians who had been expelled by Napoleon. He resolved to let his actions speak and to let everything be accompanied, preceded and followed by his awareness of the presence of God
As it seems to be the Lord’s will for me to stay on this year in the seminary and the purpose of my remaining on is to assist in maintaining in the house the spirit of piety that our Fathers sought assiduously to create, I will submit to what seems to be the design of Providence in my regard; and in order not to render unfruitful the ministry for which it destines me, I will strive to live in such a way that my deeds will speak more loudly than my words and suggestions…
My duties of piety consist: 1. in oraison, 2. holy Mass, 3. divine office, spiritual reading, examination of conscience, prayer; the whole accompanied, preceded and followed by the holy practice of the presence of God.
Resolutions as director at the seminary of St. Sulpice, January 1812, EO XV n 103
When his responsibility at the seminary ended, he went to Aix to begin his priestly ministry.
And so during the day whether I am studying or eating or walking or alone or in the company of other persons, I will take great pains to keep myself in the presence of God, watching over myself so as never to do a thing that might sadden my good Father, and to bear witness to my love for him, I will turn often towards him by means of short but lively aspirations, secret yearnings, loving glances towards the images which trace for us what he has done for us, his all-too-ungrateful creatures.
Rule drawn up on my retreat in Aix, December 1812, EO XV n 109
Out of “the images which trace for us what he has done for us,” the cross is the most important. For Eugene’s spirituality thus, to be in the presence of God and to live constantly in the sight of the Crucified Savior seem to be synonymous.
“If we are hungry enough for God, we will find a way into His presence. We should be so hungry for the presence of God that we absolutely will not go out of our house or tackle any kind of project until we have spent some time with Him.” Joyce Meyer