In his book “Saint Eugene de Mazenod – Living in the Spirit’s Fire” Al Hubenig OMI reflected on how great an effect Eugene’s struggles had on him and how transformative his experience was.
“We see here the depth to which his dark night transformed his convictions and perspectives. For the Oblate Founder the dawn after his long dark night brought dedication to the people, utter dependence on the Lord, absolute fidelity to the Spirit, and deep inner peace.
We see how the episcopacy took on new meaning for Eugene. No longer did he see himself as the freelance bishop carrying “the fullness of the priesthood with which I had been favoured,” enjoying the “advantage of not having any responsibility or care for a diocese.” “Now,” he wrote, “the episcopacy appears to me as it should be….a relationship to the flock…I shall have to become attached to those people as a father to his children. My existence, my life, my whole being, must be consecrated to them.” As a consequence, he realised that his normal way of sanctification would have to be with and through the people he was sent to serve.”
How striking is the way that Eugene has been transformed. He was not a bad person before all of this, in fact he was a very good one, a leader in his time and one who loved so many. Yet he came through the fire with a heart that had softened and grown even more.
What does this look like – my own Calvary? How do I struggle and doubt, fall short of our my promises and desires? Do I try to escape my struggle(s) or move through it? What is my attitude? Do I walk as one abandoned by all, with out life or joy, or do I walk with hope and trust?
“Eugene realized that the Lord had already done great things in him, transforming him from the person he had been. Yet he also humbly acknowledged that the task was far from done and that the Lord was the only source of his strength – that without the Lord’s continued help he could not effectively carry out his obligations as pastor of the flock.”
I am reminded of the Magnificat as I read these lines. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit exalts in God my Saviour. For he has looked with mercy on my faithfulness and all generations will call me blessed.”