The sight of the cross, of the God who gave everything for Eugene – to the last drop of blood – evoked a corresponding response of generosity from Eugene. Like Jesus, he understood on Good Friday that he was “to act in everything and for everything only for God, to love God above all else.” It was more than a short-lived emotional reaction, it was a response of total enduring giving:

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

How could he devote himself totally to the service of the Savior? Focusing on the cross led to discernment as to the most effective and lasting way to respond. How could Eugene express his desire for oblation? A prolonged and deep process of discernment was begun. He described this period when “I prayed, got prayers said, consulted, ruminated” to his mother two years later:

When I was being urged more strongly than ever by grace to give myself entirely to God’s service, I did not want to do anything rash and you must have seen that I began to move out of that state of tepidity into which I had fallen and which would infallibly have led to my death, I tried by a much greater fervor to merit new graces from the Lord and as this good Master is generous, he did not fail to grant them to me.
I prayed, got prayers said, consulted, I ruminated in this way for a year over the design Providence inspired me with; finally, as the time drew near when I must make up my mind, before making a final decision and so as never to have to reproach myself with not having employed every possible means of knowing God’s will, not content with having consulted at Paris one of the best directors existing in the world, in whose hands I am at present.
I went to Marseilles for the express purpose of baring my soul to a saintly and experienced man, I had several sessions of several hours with that angel of peace, after which I could no longer have any doubt that God wanted me in the clerical state, towards which, notwithstanding the circumstances and perhaps because of the circumstances, he was giving me a definite attraction, it is to this holy priest that I wrote in detail, laying bare my soul to him.

Letter to his mother, 23-24 March 1809, EO XIV n 49:

It is impossible to focus on the cross and remain unchanged. When we become aware of the Savior’s look we are impelled to take it seriously and to discern an appropriate response. This is not the exclusive prerogative of religious and priests – it is an invitation to every baptized person as Pope Francis points out in inviting us to reflect on the moments in our lives when we became aware that: “his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me…. This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia.  It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth.”


“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”   Marcel Proust

This entry was posted in LETTERS, RETREAT NOTES and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I enter into this sacred place, my spirit bowing slightly as my being takes it place. I have come here with an excitement that is not giddy but which recognizes myself and who I am when looked at through the eyes of our crucified Savior. Always it seems there are small glimmers of goodness seen in a new light.

    With each word shared by Eugene and by Frank I find myself looking back at my life while at the same time seeing now who I am. My first response to God – not entirely a conscious one for I seemed to be led, carried almost by something far greater and deeper than could ever come from my feeble and tattered heart. It seemed at times, as if I was moving faster than I could think but in truth it was over a period of years.

    It was a response intertwined with many reactions to where the Spirit – the spirit of God – was leading me. The Cross always before me, but seen through ever-changing eyes, it attracted and pulled me forward with my sneaking small glances towards the eyes of my most Beloved before me on that very cross, but afraid to look too closely at him. Perhaps if I snuck into his arms, his embrace and closed my eyes in the tenderness I might be able to look through his eyes and let his heart show me mine and all else. Jesus crucified even as His has been resurrected always before me. Calling to me. I danced and circled but never did I want to stop hearing his voice call to me. “Come.” One word over and over again, always drawing me closer.

    Frank has said; ‘When we become aware of the Savior’s look we are impelled to take it seriously and to discern an appropriate response.’ I was through the Oblates that I found myself being walked with and led; much as it was for the disciples on the road to Emmaus who were led. It has been Eugene’s invitation and sharing of his own journey and way of being and his Oblates that has gently led me to being able to dare and look up into and through the eyes of my Crucified Savior.

    Like Eugene I too have found my way – not as a cleric or even a religious but as a simple lay woman whose response has been an ever growing and living desire to give my all, all that I am, to God. It has been Eugene and his Oblates who have held my hand as I walked with them, sharing their fire and zeal so that I too can see through the eyes of our crucified Savior.

    I think of yesterday’s Gospel and the widow who gave her All, she did not hold back. And the question of ‘what am I holding back’. Oh that I can let it go for more than material things it is what I hold onto inside of myself. I begin to see it more clearly now as I see through the eyes of my Beloved. Even this morning I see it in a new way, with renewed courage and a new tenderness.

    Look O God on how you renew me and remake me. I give you my all as I step out to greet the world, seeing always through your eyes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *