This morning, as I read St. Eugene’s letter of September 7, 1837 to Fr. Courtès, superior of the Mission in Aix I remembered that today is the Feast of All Saints. Eugene wrote:
“L.J.C. and M.I.
This time, dear friend, it will truly be only a couple of words to tell you that we are keeping well, that the sickness is doing less havoc, even though it has not yet been conquered and that I learnt with joy from your letter that you also have been more at ease. Since I am going tomorrow on pastoral visit to Allauch, I could not have written to you and you would perhaps have been apprehensive. This is what has moved me to say a word to you today when I am so busy that I am obliged to end almost before starting.
Good-bye, most dear friend, take care of yourself always, and love me as I love you (if that is possible).” (643:IX in Oblate Writings)
This letter speaks of love that is so incredibly beautiful to behold. It was the kind of love that I was not always entirely sure was possible, at least for the likes of a person such as myself – until I met Saint Eugene de Mazenod. Here was a man who had lived 200 years ago, who was a priest and who founded a great congregation – the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. And he loved those who were most poor – those who were not loved by others and who were sometimes deemed incapable and most unworthy of loving and being loved. St. Eugene de Mazenod who loved God with everything that he had within himself and so loved others. They say his heart was as big as the world. A man, a saint who I have come to love so greatly and with such gratitude.
“We must lead men to act like human beings first of all. And then like Christians, and finally, we must help them to become saints.”
My secret desire from the time I was a little girl – that God love me and for me to be able to love God back with all that I was – that was to be a saint. I wanted to be a saint. And never even dared to dream it until I met Eugene de Mazenod, Founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Hearing his words was an invitation to learn more, to find out who this Saint was. I was not altogether too sure that this was a healthy way for me to be thinking, after all he died back in 1861 and here I was trying to have a relationship with him! But I persevered. In that I came to know him and find a way to live in a post particular way – as an Oblate Associate, sharing in his charism, his spirit.
A great saint our Saint Eugene de Mazenod. I have come to know him well and most often call him simply ‘Eugene’ or at other times ‘dearest friend’. His prayers, his guidance and sharing of himself and of God’s great love continue to touch me deep in my heart. He inspires and shepherds me, like the father he has been and is to so many. With him (and others) I have slowly come to recognize the immense love that Jesus has for each of us, but most particularly for myself. And I have slowly come to recognize the heart that grows within me that can only reflect back the awesome love that I have been given. Sainthood becomes not only possible but it is!
This Communion of Saints – that we each are invited to enter into and be a part of! Awesome. And so today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints. Happy Feast Day.