ST EUGENE: PILGRIM OF HOPE AS PROCLAIMER OF THE GOOD NEWS OF SALVATION
(Eugene’s third “road sign” for the pilgrim)
It was the Savior who had to speak through his co-operator, as Eugene wrote in his Rule:
The missionary – lest his preaching be in vain – will pray and get others to pray to the Divine Master of hearts, to deign to accompany the words of his minister with that powerful grace, which moves and converts souls, and without which all words are but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.
Eugene de Mazenod’s 1826 Rule Part I, Chapter 3, §1, Art. 24.
Eugene certainly drew the crowds through his style of preaching. Marius Suzanne, who was a novice in 1820 during the mission in Aix, described Eugene’s technique of communicating the Saviour, and the reaction of his listeners:
The following Tuesday I attended the morning sermon at the Metropolitan Church of St. Sauveur. If I was astonished by the extraordinary crowd of people of all ages, both men and women, who had gathered since four thirty, I was even more so by the discourse that Fr. de Mazenod gave us.
You cannot imagine, my dear friend, the soft and flowing eloquence of this man of God. He does not seek to shock, to make sinners tremble and to terrify them. He works his way into the soul without effort, and awakens the most tender feelings there. Something pure and soft that flows from his heart fills you and refreshes you with that heavenly dew that the Prophet speaks about. You forget him entirely.
He was explaining in Provençal the first words of the Lord’s Prayer. He developed them with such facility, he expressed himself with a wealth of feelings so natural and so touching that we were moved to tears. They indeed flowed from all eyes, softly and quietly.
A great number of sinners were converted. Three courtesans [ed: prostitutes who attract wealthy clients], among others, made their confession that same evening.
SUZANNE M., Quelques lettres sur la mission d’Aix, Chez Pontier, Imprimeur-libraire, Aix, 1820, p. 6-7.
THE WORD OF GOD
Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
But how shall they ask him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them unless someone sends him? That is what the Scriptures are talking about when they say, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace with God and bring glad tidings of good things.” In other words, how welcome are those who come preaching God’s Good News!
God our Father,
by the grace of the Holy Spirit,
you called St. Eugene de Mazenod
to gather a missionary family
to announce the Gospel
especially among the poor and most abandoned.
May we ourselves be inflamed with his zeal
for announcing and witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Savior
and receive through his intercession
the particular graces we ask for as pilgrims of hope.
by Fr. by Frank Santucci, OMI