“It calls for an act of virtue on my part to hold myself back, for I do not forgive his insolent lack of respect for my status as Bishop; the four fruitless visits I made him as a priest I overlook; but on the last occasion he saw what I am.” (Letter to Fr. Tempier, October 28, 1832 – 437: VIII in Oblate Writings)
“I confess I am a little ashamed to be here in this condition; but they have the good sense to understand and accept me as they find me .” (Letter to Fr. Tempier, November 10, 1832 – 437: VIII in Oblate Writings)(Eugene was suffering from an bad case of sea-sickness)
We know from history that this was the beginning of a very dark period of Eugene’s life – what Al Hubenig, OMI calls the “Icosia Incident” and which I can only liken to the struggle of Jesus in the garden and on the road to Calvary. In a way it will be a very formative experience in Eugene’s life – one that he most likely did not see coming.
Eugene who spoke of martyrdom and who wished to die for God was in some ways having his prayers answered. Beginning with the ambassador of France who would not accord him the dignity of his birth as a nobleman, let alone as being a Bishop of the Church. Then to arrive in Genoa to stay with the Jesuits and be so sick, a weakling whose only passion would be in his utter powerlessness.
As I sit here I realise that on one level I identify with Eugene – there is much that I have had to let go of and it was not always easy or gracious. It has been an ongoing struggle – one that I am sure is not yet finished. Yes Eugene was on the road to Calvary as surely are we all. Just so that we might take up the Cross. It is after all, Lent.