Bishop Eugene finished presenting the people of his diocese with Pope Pius IX’s letter to the universal Church asking for help for the famine in Ireland. It gives an interesting glimpse into Eugene’s understanding of the Pope. He begins by paraphrasing St Paul’s text, “I am under daily pressure because of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28):

Finally, our dearest people, in publishing the text of Pius IX, we cannot help adding emphasis to the final words he says to each individual Pastor as the one who has the responsibility for all the churches.

Eugene focuses on the suffering connected with this responsibility:

Chosen by Heaven to represent the Supreme Shepherd of souls throughout the world, he sees the Church militant, obliged to endure unceasingly terrible attacks and to withstand harsh struggles.

He feels all the anguish of the Bride of Jesus Christ, whose heart is stricken by all the blows directed against her and torn by all the wounds she receives.

Bishop Eugene’s Circular Letter to the people of Marseilles, 12 June 1847, EO III Circular n 3


Speaking of the sufferings of the Church, who is the Bride of Christ, Eugene’s earlier language of the Preface of 1818 is echoed: “The Church… has in our days been cruelly ravaged. The beloved spouse of God’s only begotten Son is torn with anguish…”

As a seminarian in Paris, Eugene had directly experienced Napoleon’s religious oppression, the arrest of the Pope and the suffering of the Church. This experience had turned Eugene into a faithful and loyal supporter of the Pope at all times (“Ultramontaine”). He and Pope Pius IX were to develop a strong personal relationship.

The Church continues to be “cruelly ravaged” today and in unity with Pope Francis how do we respond to the suffering of our Church, the Body of Christ, who “endures unceasingly terrible attacks and withstands harsh struggles.”

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    I began this morning by thinking of the small private room (called the Crying Room or the Room of Tears) where the newly elected Pope goes to change from the cardinals “red robe” to his new papal white robes. Where he comes to realise the enormous burden of love that he has accepted to carry.

    I think of Jesus who accepted the most painful of deaths by hanging on the cross…

    I think of the stages we have where we want to remain being treated as the special child in our family, while at the same time trying to do new things and figure out who we are in life.
    I am reminded of Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory.

    During a retreat some years ago I would rise before dawn, get up and go for a walk with God on the surrounding property. We were at the top of a hill and so I would take a minute to look out and give a very general thought or all the people ‘down there’ and then returned to my time with God. This one morning I felt like God was asking me to open my time with him to all the people of the world. I was not happy about this and immediately returned to my room. Later in the day I metwith the ‘retreat master’retreat and said that I did not want to give up my personal time with God and to love and pray for the rest of the world. I do not remember if he even smiled at thatI do not remember if the person smiled or laughed.
    Eventually with time and love I was able to start letting go of myself instead of remaining like the Sheldon Cooper who believed he was better than the rest of humans…

    Love continues to help me to enlarge the space of my heart, just as it did with Jesus, St. Eugene and all the members of the Oblate Family…

    Today I try to become one more pilgrim in hope of communion…

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