“Thus dioceses are composed of a multitude of Christians who are so only in name, and who want to stay strangers to the family to which they do not suspect they belong by spiritual ties which, although very real, are totally unknown to them. These latter completely fail to recognize their father because they have turned away from God. […] Their apathetic souls feel no emotion at the sight of someone who represents God himself to them, who has received from Jesus Christ an absolute power over their souls, from whom may issue forth over them the most abundant blessings, who is specially charged with freeing them from the servitude of the devil, with showing them the way of salvation, leading them surely on it in defending them from the attacks of all their enemies. […]. What can be done for this considerable portion of the flock? Pray for it and catch its attention by an irreproachable conduct, but that is not enough for men of this stamp, one would have to be able to attract them by striking virtues that one has rarely the occasion to practice. Once again I see nothing but assiduous prayer to attract on them extraordinary graces that they too little merit for one to deceive oneself that one can obtain these graces for them.” (185:XV in Oblate Writings)
This was written by St. Eugene during his 1837 retreat before becoming Bishop of Marseilles.
Eugene speaks as one who has no delusions as to what and who he will responsible for. He approaches it not in a condemning manner but rather in the manner of one who would change what he sees before him. He speaks constantly of prayer and that is his power, his grace. He wants to become for them a living icon of what it is to love God and give one’s self totally to God and to all of God’s people.
Eugene was not wearing blinders and saw quite clearly the state of affairs in the church, which is sometimes not so different today, 200 years later. But he speaks with hope.
I think of the hopes that I have – for my Church, for the Oblates and Oblate Associates, really for all who are members of the Mazenodian Family. That is in part, why I come here each day to share my thoughts and prayers on how I am inspired by St. Eugene. Perhaps in little ways others can come to know Eugene as I do – in the small ordinary of the day actions and ways of being.
I know that I love hugely and widely for that is one of the greatest gifts that God has given to me – to be able to share the very love given me by my Beloved, to share it with all that I meet. Not empty, pretty, sweet-words love, but cleaning-up after love, mopping the floors love, teaching love, showing others how they are most important love, making sure that everything is ready for them to worship God so that they are no impediments or obstacles to their giving praise love. My loved ones – Eugene, the Oblates, the parishioners, the Associates, those I meet on the street and on the bus – if I can touch them somehow, help them to recognize their own beauty and see that they too are God’s beloved… If I can, through my little actions and way of being, show them a way that they too can live and have what I have – then that is everything. Imagine having the world as your flock