March 10th, the anniversary of St. Marie Eugenie's death, is her feast day. Let us give thanks for this remarkable woman whose life, marked by love for our Lord and passion for His Kingdom, has touched so many persons and communities around the world since the congregation was founded in 1839.
As Pope Benedict XVI said at her canonization in June 2007, "May the example of our new saint, foundress of the Religious of the Assumption, help you focus your spiritual life in Christ and in the mystery of the Incarnation, and move you to make a firm and courageous apostolic commitment, transmitting Gospel values to the culture of today...."
The homily of Monsignor Duthel, the postulator of the cause for the canonization of Marie Eugenie of Jesus, offers us some thoughts on this feastday.
Mass to Prepare the Canonization
Saturday, 2 June 2007
Acts 26: 1- 12-18 ; John 1:35-42
The Gospel that we've just heard is particularly well adapted to our new saint. Two of John's disciples are searching for Jesus. Without knowing anything about him, they set themselves to follow him, because someone has shown them the Lamb of God, because someone has made them discover that, so very close to them, the Son of God is standing, because God walked in their midst and that they hadn't known him. This experience of the two disciples is also that of Marie Eugenie, who, tomorrow, in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI will proclaim a saint, giving her thus as a model for the whole Church, thus to each one of us.
Marie Eugenie found her life superficial, without flavor. She was leading a life that, although there were family difficulties, was frivolous, filled with all kinds of parties and balls. But these human joys, even if they gave her a bit of happiness in the moment, did not really respond to her deep expectations and quest for meaning. With a heart in search of the truth, she allowed herself, without really knowing what was happening, to be worked on by the grace of Christ, whom she had received since her childhood in the Eucharist. That reminds us that we ought to work tirelessly at making our knowledge of Christ grow, Christ who is totally, really, and truly present in the Eucharist. Let us seek him first of all in this sacrament, both in our preparation for receiving the Eucharist, and in loving contact with him when do we receive him so that we marvel, in the manner of St. Thomas, "My Lord and my God."
Seeing the two disciples following him, Jesus asks them this question: "What are you looking for?" And their answer is eloquent: "Master, where do you live?" From the start, the disciples affirm and even confess that Jesus is a master, a master of life. The disciples wish to go to stay with this master. "To stay with" means to live with, to travel a road together; it means to find in life with the other the happiness we long for. "To stay with" means to live in intimacy. So here is the deepest desire of the two disciples. It was also the desire of Marie Eugenie. God stayed close to her from the time of her First Communion. She didn't know it, but Jesus was calling her also to stay with him.
Did you hear Jesus' answer to the disciples? "Come and see." Jesus attracts by what he is and by what he says. Jesus doesn't make any great theories to fool people. With him, it's companionship, with his Word, the intimate life with Him that makes us discover the meaning of our life, that gains deep joy for us, that makes us live truly under his gaze. Marie Eugenie truly responded to the invitation of the Master. She began to put herself into his school, to live closely with Him in prayer in the sacrament of the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation; so many places where she could taste in the deepest part of herself the joy of the presence of the Lord, who never imposed anything on her, but who, by his grace, worked on her inner self, so that she could give the best of herself all throughout her life. Here is the secret of the life spent with Christ. The Lord wants us to be happy. He wants to set the best of ourselves free, if we accept to work with his grace, with his Spirit, in his presence.
Marie Eugenie did many great things, because she said yes to being close to Christ; at the same time she discovered that such a life, lived so close to him, did not distance her from other men and women. In fact, the opposite was true. Her gaze on Jesus helped her to look lovingly on young people, to whom she wished to show the trust and the love that Christ gives to each. It is trust that opens the road to intellectual, human and spiritual blossoming.
We can continually ask Jesus the Master: "Where do you live?" And we can hear his response: "Come and see." Come near to him and you will discover who you are; come near to him and you will take confidence in yourself; come near to him and you will receive the forgiveness you need to walk deliberately toward the future, come near to him and you discover the love by which you are loved, the love that gives life, the love that comes from the very heart of the Trinity. Come near to him and find the nourishment you need in order to walk along the route. Come near to him and you will bear fruit, a fruit that will last, as Marie Eugenie's did.
Yes, Marie Eugenie invites us to let ourselves be attracted by Christ, sure that the Lord will not impose anything impossible on us, but rather that he will bring out the best of ourselves so we can succeed in life. In following Christ every day, you will not be disappointed. In looking to him, you will learn to love both others and yourself. Follow Marie Eugenie; she will show you the way to really flourish as a person. Follow Marie Eugenie and she will show you the way of Christ, that she sought so long, discovering in him the One who alone can give true happiness.