Seeing himself and the world through the eyes of the Crucified Savior led Eugene to the unwavering certainty of being called to a life of total oblation at the service of the Savior. Madame de Mazenod was certainly not convinced, and her son reacted:

I was hurt at the same time to see that it upsets you so much to see me entering the state of life God calls me to, and to see as a calamity something that should be a source of joy for you.

Eugene had to use all his powers of persuasion to convince her that it had not been a hasty decision, and that a lot of thought and consultation had gone into his discernment.

You tell me one must reflect for a long time before taking such a serious decision. No doubt, one must reflect and test oneself, but must this scrutiny last all one’s life? No decision was ever more carefully and lengthily discussed than the one I am taking.

The he describes his meticulous discernment  process.

Come next Christmas, when I will probably be receiving the subdiaconate, I will have been discerning this matter for three years; more than a year of testing in the seminary, after consulting all the best directors available, and all to know if a vocation which dates back to my reaching the age of reason  [comes from God].
It has led me to trample underfoot the most seductive vanities and renounce all the advantages I might have found elsewhere, to say nothing of considerations that would have shaken a person less firm, to master finally all the feelings of a heart easily moved to emotion and so accustomed to get its way, to know, I say, if this vocation comes from God.

He concludes by appealing to his love for his mother that would never allow hi9m to heut her – yet his love for God had to come first.

Ah, my God! If the Lord had not inspired this resolution, could I have endured even the thought of causing you to shed one single tear? Answer me that, knowing my heart as you do.

Letter to his mother, 4 April 1809, EO XIV n 50

It was the certainty of someone who had experienced being loved from the cross by the One who gave everything for him. This certainty made sense of his life and his calling.

Perhaps your and my life experience has not quite led us to the same conviction of certainty – yet the same loving gaze and open arms of the Savior on the cross invite us to allow Him to make sense of our lives … let’s ask St Eugene to help us to respond with generosity as he did. It changed his life!

DeMazenod_200th_banner English

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”   Vaclav Havel

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I love being here today. The ‘certainty’. I look at my own life and find that sometimes I get a little confused. I expect and demand of my God ‘guarantees’ to go with certainty. And I think that sometimes I expect it to be a ‘one-time’ event, a one-time letting go; a one-time of giving all of myself.

    I remember that for many years after having quit the drinking and the drugging that I would say to anyone who would listen that “I had given up alcohol and drugs” and so did not need to give up or quit anything esle! As if that was everything. I would say that particularly when I was being asked about my ‘smoking’. I would actually say that God would not ask me to give up and let go of my cigarettes because I had already given up so much. I know – who was I kidding? What was I thinking? Of course my health improved over the years because I was no longer using drugs and alcohol and the living a lifestyle that accompanied those illnesses. But it was not enough. I needed to let go of more, I needed to let go of everything. And every time I encountered that loving gaze of my Savior on the cross I knew in the most intimate way possible that I could not ignore the invitation to let go of more, to go deeper into a way of being that is the only thing in my life that I can make sense of. (This continues in my life in a daily way, for all areas of my life.)

    And as I learned in AA beginning all those many years ago – it was not anything that “I” dreamed of and did on my own, but rather what God has done for me. With only my own feeble self, none of this life would be possible and that just might be my only certainty.

    My steps have been small, and many. I have moved forward and I have also moved backwards at times. I have danced around and looked every way that I could look. There has been a lot of abstract in my life, particularly on my spiritual journey, living what I have been asked to live and not just thinking about it – there is a difference. Delay tactics is what they were.

    The thought occurs to me of Jesus and his certainty, his giving of all and yet there would be times in his life when he would withdraw, and pray and I am sure discern. Jesus our Savior, mounted on the Cross. This was who Eugene strove to model his life on. It was the only thing that made sense of his life. And here we are modelling our own lives on that of Jesus, as seen and understood and lived by Eugene. Very particular graces.

    This is a life-long process, just as it was with Eugene. I dare not stop to measure or compare – that makes no sense at all. Once again gratitude is the order of the day.

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