On a rare break with his mother and his sister’s family, Eugene described his impressions in glowing terms. The family gathering was to be the last with his nephew, Louis, who was terminally ill. Two of Louis’ sisters had died in their teens, and now he faced death at the age of 26. Only two of his siblings were to survive: Eugène and Césarie.

The Boisgelin Family chateau at St Martin de Pallières, Provence

We had community life at the chateau. It was inspiring to see around me so many Christian souls who joined the most amiable qualities to the charm of virtue.

Our good octogenarian mother, model of patriarchal customs, so exact in all her religious duties, reciting with my sister her daily Office with an admirable devotion and recollection; my sister, true angel of piety, a strong woman tested in the crucible of suffering and bearing with heroiccourage, which does not exclude deep feeling, the cruel loss of her children so worthy of our most bitter regrets.

My brother-in-law, is the most honorable man I know, who lacking only in what the Lord has granted through the prayers of his virtuous wife andall of ours, that is, practices the religion he had always honored with deepest respect.

What shall I say of my nephew Louis so holy, so spiritual, so accomplished and his brother Eugene who charmed everyone and has proven to all that the praise of Fr. Pillon, rector of the college of Brugelette, was rightly deserved.

As for Césarie, all who know her will agree with me when I say that she is as lovable as she is good, that her mind, her heart and her character make her a perfect subject.

The happiness of finding myself with persons so beloved was troubled and mingled with bitterness when considering the suffering of our poor Louis….

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 16 September 1841, EO XX

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    How wonderful that Eugene was able to spend time with his family; able to relax and be with his mother, sister and her family. While life had not been easy for any of them, still they were able to share in their love of God and be together. Life not perfect still celebrated.

    I find myself admiring the image of a family praying together, so much so that both Eugene’s mother and sister took part in praying the Daily Office. This was not my own experience and so I marvel at the beauty image of a family praying together.

    Last night though, I too experienced praying and being my beloved family. I am speaking of members of the Lacombe branch of our Mazenodian Family as we came together using Zoom to celebrate the anniversary of the Approval of the Constitutions and Rules and the congregation in 1826. We met almost a week after the date and we met using technology; still, we got to see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices. We prayed together and renewed our respective vows and commitments and there was time for hellos and goodbyes. Simple joy to sit and smile as each new person entered the gathering. There was a special sweetness and satisfaction as new members made their first commitment and received their beautiful little crosses. And true to tradition we closed singing Salve Regina.

    Just as Eugene was missing members of his sister’s family who had died, so I thought of two of our Associates who died earlier this month. They were there with us in our hearts.

    I think of Eugene’s experience with his family and give thanks that for a while last night I was able to experience and know the “happiness of finding myself with persons so beloved…”

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