In September of 1836, Eugene wrote a short letter to Father Casimir Aubert at Aix in response to Fr. Aubert’s complaints about moving to Aix. He wrote: “…Who can offer resistance to the very power of God? The ways of Providence are a deep mystery to me. Our part is to submit ourselves to whatever they bring that is hard or painful, without ever being disconcerted, even when they pitch us into situations of great difficulty.” ( 590:VIII in Oblate Writings)
We cannot ask why – that would be a waste of time. I look at how Eugene has lived his life up to this time of this writing. He was forced to live in exile as a boy and a young man, away from his country – a refugee in Italy. And his long ordeal as he began his service as Bishop of Icosia – where his French citizenship was revoked – taken from him because of the politics of the day between the King of France, his government and the Papacy in Rome, the Church.
“Our part is to submit ourselves…” and here is his ‘oblation’ to God – his giving of himself, all that he was or would be. This has been his stance from the beginning and he remains true to it, trying to help guide his sons and daughters, his friends through this way of living. This is the sharing of his spirit at the very beginning.
I think of Frank Santucci’s question earlier this morning of “What is the spirit that animates me?” What holds everything together in my life?” I find myself now wanting to begin to deal with those two questions and it comes in the ordinary of my daily life. Here it is in the life of Eugene and how it helps me to begin each day. God at the very front and back, bottom and top and in the heart centre – Jesus on the Cross and giving his all. I am thinking of a line from William Barclay’s commentary and teachings on 1 Timothy 2:1-7 where he writes “Jesus gave his life as ransom for all.” And then further on: “It was Jesus’ confidence that, if he was lifted up on his cross, sooner or later he would draw all people to him (John 12:32).” This was Eugene’s model, this was how he lived as a Co-operator of Christ the Saviour. This is how he shared his spirit with us. This is what fills and animates me and joins with my own spirit so that I can live it out. It begins and ends with God, with God in the center and all of it and then how we sit it, receive it and live it.
This is the very Spirit of God bringing all things together, animating, enlivening, leading. There is a grace to having been invited to take part and share this give of the Spirit through Eugene’s own spirit and way of life. It inspires, nourishes and guides and at this moment I do so look forward to the oncoming days of deepening discovery. I would wish that all would find such excitement in their lives as I do this day.