In January of 1833 Eugene wrote a letter to the Bishop of Lausanne and Geneva.
Not only do I acknowledge that I am your diocesan as you are so good as to observe in the letter I am to my distress all too late in answering, but you are my master and the model I would like to be able to imitate in my conduct throughout my life. I earnestly ask God for this grace in his goodness, for I truly want to be a bishop after his heart. You know too well, My Lord, the cost of such a favour to refuse me your help, by your prayers, in obtaining it, with this in view I ask you for a small mention each day in your memento. You will not find me ungrateful…” (January 8 1833 letter to Bishop Yenni, – 170: XV in Oblate Writings)
It is only now that I read the footnote Eugene and it all begins to make sense. What I am witnessing this morning is a reciprocal love between Eugene and Bishop Yenni (who had written to Eugene: “It is from the bosom of your family where I have just learned of your elevation to the episcopate that I hasten to write. I cannot tell you, Monsignor, the consolation and joy this happy news brings to birth in my heart. Since you are the head of this house, you are also by the same title my diocesan…”) Here I see the size of Eugene’s heart as he responds to love from another who is outside of his own small community – but that does not alter or lessen his love in any way. I am reminded of a drawing that I first saw in 2011 of Jesus with a flaming heart and he was the central figure, surrounded by others (his apostles – saints – community members…) and the lines from the flaming heart of Jesus were also aflame giving fire to those they touched and connected with and then lines of fire between the those surrounding Jesus and moving outward.
My heart sings this morning with delight at the small insight I have been offered of Eugene and his heart. I have been able to experience something quite similar in my own life and it is an underserved gift. I take this with me as I begin this day.