“Love is shown more in deeds than in words.”  (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

We have been looking at the works of charity that Bishop Eugene started and supported in his diocese and have just been focusing in particular on those around the person of Babeau at the market place.

Charity embraces everything; and for new needs, it invents, when necessary, new means: spiritual help, bodily help, bread for the soul, bread for the body. ..,
All kinds of good works are being generated in the name of Jesus Christ

Eugene de Mazenod’s Pastoral Letter of 7 February 1847, Marseille

In his diary, Eugene described a day spent with the St Anne Work of Charity for women begun by Babeau:

Mass at la Mission of France church for the Congregation of Working Women, of repetiers, pastisannes, food sellers, fishmongers, etc.

He uses two words which were typically of Marseilles:
“repetiers” [ed. a name given in Marseille to female merchandisers and in general to all women who sell fruit, vegetables, etc],
“pastisannes” [Pastis, in the south of France, signifies a mixture of pâteux -bread insufficiently baked -, pâté [pâté], patisserie [cakes and pastries],

I gave Communion during more than an hour to these courageous women who today edified the city. More than a hundred fireworks were fired during the day. At five o’clock, I returned there to bless the beautiful statue of Saint Anne which they had fashioned.
In the morning and in the evening, I spoke to them in Provençal to their great satisfaction. In the evening, I was obliged to restrain the outburst of this multitude of women who began to cry out in their enthusiasm when I had finished speaking: “Vive Monseigneur.” I gave the blessing of the Blessed Sacrament.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 8 June 1845, EO XXI

We see here in Bishop Eugene’s activities how he put into practice his characteristic of being close to his people – which he desired to be the characteristic of every member of his missionary family.

How do I make Jesus a part of each of my everyday ordinary activities? Does love embrace everything?

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    I always want to have a sense of the words that Eugene used – “repetiers”. I recall how many years ago my friend and I would go to sell 50-50 tickets during local major junior ice hockey team games. We would then get a percentage of the prize money raised for our local charity. As families arrived at the arena it may have looked like Babeau’s markets – teeming with life and it’s many sounds. I remember standing there calling out “50-50 tickets – get your winning ticket here” as I waved tickets high above my head, trying to catch the attention and eye of all who walked past us. Over and over we repeated our chants…

    Perhaps in that sense we too could have been called “repetiers”. Done out of love for God and for each other, and allowing that to become a part of our daily lives.

    Eugene gives us a vivid image of how Babeau and her members were able to make Jesus a part of each of their everyday ordinary activities, allowing love to embrace everything.

    Do I truly allow love to embrace everything?

    Some times are harder than other times. Love embraces when I talk with a friend, share with that person be it in response to shared joy or shared struggle. They say love is a decision and I think it is also an attitude, a garment we cover ourselves with so as to allow our hearts to be opened – the doors swinging open no matter which side of the door we approach. Love embraces us together as we walk with and accompany each other, serving each other.

    Yesterday I received a call from a friend’s wife. My friend who has some health issues has felt quite alone during Covid and his wife is busy with a daughter who has special needs, as well as running the house and trying to take care of a “million and one things” that need attention. My heart responded and embraced her in that moment as we spoke as well as her husband. It will take time but we will find a way that will work and care for both.

    Simply another part of the very ordinariness of life not just me, but for all of us taking care of as we accompany each other…

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