In his personal journal, Eugene reveals the depth of his anguish at the sudden tragic death of the 32 year-old Father Joseph Richaud, and his reliance on God to cope with the blow.

The details of that catastrophe are heart-rending. The fall was followed almost immediately by death. Within a few hours this good priest expired surrounded by his grief-stricken Brothers and the whole seminary. The bitterness of our grief is indescribable! My God! Better contain oneself in the resigned silence that You alone can give, for our human nature is prostrate under the redoubled blows of Your stern leading. I hasten to repeat: Thy holy will be done over us, enlighten our journey through this great mystery of your Providence. May nothing discourage us in this way that is incomprehensible to our feeble lights. You call us to work from all parts in your vineyard, we respond to your voice, everyone one gets to work and makes every effort to do the work of two, for the work exceeds our numbers. Blessings follow, good is done prodigiously. Suddenly, and in rapid succession, You take from us the means to continue your work, and only we can take it on. Mystery, mystery: I adore You, O my God, under this veil, as I adore your Trinity in your Unity, as I adore You and love You hidden under the veils which hide you from my eyes in the sacrament of the Eucharist. But Lord, if indeed I was the obstacle to the accomplishment of your designs, You know that I have not waited until today to beg you to remove it. How many times have I not said to You and I repeat it afresh: do with me what You will “my destiny is in your hands” [ed. Psalm 31:16].

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 14 January 1837, EO XVIII

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    For some reason this morning I think of the “Illuminated Crowd” sculpture in Montreal where we see people reacting (and responding) to a great event – one that can seem good or bad depending on the how their eyes and hearts view it. At the end of the day whether we run to our Beloved or turn from God.

    Here Eugene turns to his Beloved; for these are not the words of a man who is running away. His suffering of the loss of yet another of his sons is palpable, yet over and over we hear him cry out the words of his oblation – as he finds ways to say ‘thy will be done’. As he suffers he continues to praise God and enter into this great mystery as Jesus did with the death of his friend Lazarus and then again in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    “Do with me what You will”; this is the song of Mary, our Mother.

    Something that another wrote to me reminds me how this is Eugene’s testimony of love; of God’s grace. This is the testimony of his oblation to God – it all goes back to centre on his Beloved.

    This morning Eugene’s sharing of some of his deepest thoughts helps each of us to stop and reflect on what this looks like in our own lives. Even in some of our darkest hours, in the midst of struggles and sufferings how we still choose to run to praise our God. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exalts in God my Saviour…”

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