Why did Eugene become a priest?
Firstly, “the sight of the cross” gave him the motivation to look at his own life and to embrace the direction and meaning that only Jesus could give him. Through the eyes of the crucified Savior he understood the oblation of Jesus, which the cross represented. It led him to respond with the gift of his own life in oblation as a follower of Jesus.
His own gratitude for redemption led him to the priesthood.
If anyone has a greater need of redemption than I, this poor sinner and ungrateful creature who was for so long in a state of revolt, I may perhaps allow him to believe himself more obligated than I to Jesus the Savior for having rescued him.
But seeing the graces which have been given me and which I have profaned, and in spite of which I have sinned, I acknowledged myself as the man who stood in most need of redemption.
Notes of retreat before his ordination to the priesthood, 1 – 21 December 1811,
EO XIV n 95
Eugene, conscious of how he had been overwhelmed by God’s mercy when he had been in need of personal redemption, now dedicated his life to leading others on the same journey of awareness of their need for redemption. His ministry was to assist them to turn to God’s mercy. Reminiscing, some thirty years later, he recalled this motivation:
I thus entered the Seminary of Saint Sulpice with the desire, or better, with my will perfectly resolved to devote myself in the most absolute way to the service of the Church in the exercise of the ministry that is the most useful to souls, the salvation of whom I was burning to consecrate myself.
Mémoires, quoted in RAMBERT I p.47.
Through the eyes of the crucified Savior he identified his mission and expressed it through the priesthood. He this associated himself with Jesus Christ in his mission as Savior of the world.
As I allow the Savior to look at me today, what does he say? What does he invite me to? How does he gently push me to identify the areas in my life in need of redemption? How can I, in turn, be his instrument to others searching for redemption?
“I am for God, I am the lover of God, I am loved by God, I am the servant of God, I am the servant of the servant of God, and I am the well-wishing instrument of God’s love towards every living being, with all humility. The emergence of that realization is the greatest attainment in life.” Radhanath Swami
There is here enough to fill my day. There is enough! Perhaps I should repeat those three words in caps, shouting them out; there is enough – God, you are enough – I am enough. All when I look, gaze and focus on You through the eyes of my crucified Saviour, my most Beloved. Will I allow You today to be enough, to be my all?
Indeed Lord, let me return here for moments throughout my day; in those moments when I feel frustrated and tired; in those moments when I look around, searching you out, wanting to find you at my side. How will I allow you to be there? Imagine – will I allow You! For never have You forced yourself on me. There is inherent in all of this the realization that it is only in openness and vulnerability will I be able to hear your voice as you softly call to me.
It is only through your eyes that I am able to contemplate the rest. Working my way around and up to the word ‘oblation’. Oblation – so much more than just another holy word. The act of giving to. There it is – the living out of this wondrous love that you fill me with.
Eugene – an instrument of the Saviours love towards everyone in need of redemption – yes. What could that look like in my life? I can’t help but remember that it is Advent – a time of preparation and anticipation. It is all here now, I need only to live it, realize it. I shall start this morning with gratitude and joy. With immense hope so that I might move through my fears. Indeed I shall come back here throughout my day to spend more time in being so as to go deeper.
For now I would like to repeat; “I am for God, I am the lover of God, I am loved by God, I am the servant of God, I am the servant of the servant of God, and I am the well-wishing instrument of God’s love towards every living being, with all humility.” Let it be so Lord, let it be so.
It was important that I come back here throughout the day and I did. I needed to spend several points of time working through points of reflection to the questions raised by Frank. I needed to figure out why that was so. Being in a space where I could not delay or slouph off any of my questioning and responding. I could not and did not want to delay this. And with all of it the answers are no big surprise but they seem to be more firmly cemented within me. There is a surety born of having passed through a fire of a sort. It is a great thing to be able to let go, a gift of freedom. Not that I will not need to come here again, but for the moment there is some peace.
I feel as if I have been on a bit of a retreat today – allbeit one that is not the norm, for life intruded and I was grateful for the small breaks of work and tasks to be performed, for the friends touching base with me. I needed that grounding. But my thoughts throughout kept returning to this place so that I would not run and hide from myself. And through it all I wrote in my diary, a letter, a conversation with God which ended with the quote from Radhanath Swami, except I spoke it with my beloved.