Eugene wrote to his mother in Aix from Marseilles on March 10th, 1835 painting yet another picture of what was happening in Marseilles with the Cholera epidemic and how devotion to Our Lady seemed to be making a difference.

You will have had our news, dearest mama, through the newspaper and the Pastoral Letter. We are now confronted by a quite ravishing spectacle. It is a holy explosion of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which was displayed not only in the course of the journey down from the Mount to the cathedral, but is still going on with a sustained trust. […] I think the Lord cannot but allow himself to be touched nor his divine Mother fail to obtain us mercy. I do not know what will come of it. The fact is that during the daytime yesterday, instead of the huge number of cases that have been daily terrifying our quarter, we had only a single case; and St. Laurent, which is suffering as much as ourselves, had only two. It is a huge decrease. Let’s hope..” (176:XV in Oblate Writings)

As I read this I think of the many places around the world where sickness runs rampant, particularly Ebola and how very hard it is to contain and halt even with all of the modern medicines we have available to us.  And I pray for all of ‘them over there’ when reminded during the Prayers of the Faithful’ during our Sunday Masses.  But my devotion should not just end there.  And the casualness of my “them over there” shames me.

Eugene’s trust and devotion to Our Lady almost puts me to shame.  It would have been no small feat to move the statue of Our Lady from Notre Dame de la Garde down the mountainside and over to the Cathedral.  The faith and trust of Eugene and the some of the people of his time blows me away.  How often do I forget to turn to Maman, Our Lady who I love.  I am ashamed to say not enough, with not enough consistency or practice.  Except for the Hail Mary which I recite almost unceasingly during my days without thought.  This was intentional on my part to ask for that because my conscious is simply not good enough to pray and so I say the Hail Mary as a solace and as plea.  I know that she can hear me but I do wish that I could be more conscious about it.  I pray that I will become more conscious of others and my prayers for them.

About Eleanor Rabnett

Oblate Associate
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