THE GOOD GOD WAITS ONLY FOR OUR CONVERSION IN ORDER TO SHOWER US WITH HIS GRACE
Rummaging through his old papers, Eugene came across a letter from Father Duclaux, his former spiritual director in the seminary in Paris. It had been written nearly 30 years earlier, in 1815, when Eugene was discerning whether God was calling him to bring together a group of priests to respond to the spiritual needs of the most abandoned in Provence. He wrote in his diary:
Today, in paging through my old papers, in order to relegate a cartload to the fire, I found a precious letter from the saintly M. Duclaux, my director at Saint Sulpice, who died as Superior General of that congregation. It is entirely good, like everything that came from his wonderful soul; but, among other things, he wrote to me, in 1815:
“For me, I can only thank my good Master for all the pious sentiments that he inspires in you. Continue to work with all your strength for the restoration of religion; preach, instruct, enlighten the French about the cause of the evils that weigh them down; may your voice be heard in every region of Provence; the good God waits only for our conversion in order to shower us with his grace.”
It was the encouragement that Eugene needed to hear as he discerned God’s will and brought together the future Missionary Oblates.
Father Duclaux also stressed that it was not sufficient to bring the people to know Jesus Christ as Savior through parish missions and preaching: it was essential that there be good priests to shepherd the people on a permanent basis in their parishes.
But, above all, form an ecclesiastical spirit among the priests. You will not achieve any good, as long as you do not have excellent priests at the head of parishes. Therefore, urge all the ecclesiastics to be saints; may they read the lives of Saint Charles and of Saint Vincent de Paul; they will see if it is tolerable for a priest, for a pastor to be lukewarm and without zeal.
Duclaux, October 2, 1815.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 30 July 1843, EO XXI
Eugene never forgot this good advice and from the start of the Oblates, one of their works was retreats and times of renewal for diocesan priests. In time this led to the opening of seminaries in France and other parts of the world.
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