In a letter to Fr. Tempier, Eugene writes of how he was received and treated in Gap as he attended the feast day celebrations of St. Arnoult, patron of that diocese.
“The ordination of Father Semeria was a real family feast day which gave a special character to that solemnity where grace flowed from the father over his children, sole witnesses of the wonders worked for the glory of one of their brothers and for the good of all and of God’s Church. […] That liturgy, in honour of St. Arnoult, patron of the diocese, was as solemn as Gap could make it and was followed by an interminable procession that completed my exhaustion on the day after a fast day, and with me having risen at four o’clock and made a two-hour journey. But if I was really exhausted, the piety of all the people, who went down on their knees for my blessing the whole length of my passage, provided a more than abundant compensation of spiritual consolation.” (544:VIII in Oblate Writings Letter To Father Tempier, at Marseille September 22, 183 )
I was struck by the image of the people lining the procession route who would kneel as Eugene passed and blessed them. That is so different from today where we here in North America would at the most bow our heads.
For myself I honestly wonder if I would do this? Would it depend on who was doing the blessing? If I knew the Bishop or not? Would I be bowing my head but secretly allowing my thoughts to cast aspersions about the whole practice or even the Bishop in question? Where would my heart be in all of it?
And what about with my Superiors – do I show them the deference and acknowledgement that their position is worthy of? And my bosses or colleagues – how do I defer to them, how do I acknowledge them and honour them? Is my respect bone deep or simply a polite face, a mask that I pull out and put on at specific times?
I am a little embarrassed at the questions that I ask myself – for they give a very clear picture of my humanness and of my weaknesses. A little embarrassed I stop and wonder if I am the only person who thinks and behaves in this manner. At the same time though I decide not to dwell on that – for even with these traits and thoughts – in my smallness I am lifted up in loved.