Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Lenten Retreat Transformation

Marie-Eugénie de Jésus

After his arduous trip to South America, Pope Benedict XVI will canonise four people on June 3, Trinity Sunday.

One of them is Marie-Eugénie de Jésus, born Anne-Eugénie Milleret de Brou, (1817-1898), French, founder of the Institute of Sisters of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.

Her family was not religious. She was not religious herself in the beginning.But there was always a passionate belief in social justice.

What changed things ?

When she was nineteen, Anne Eugenie attended the famous and now celebrated Lenten Conferences at Notre Dame in Paris, preached by the young Abbe Lacordaire, already well-known for his talent as orator.

The Abbe Lacordaire was invited by Archbishop Quelen, Archbishop of Paris, to deliver the Lenten Retreat addresses at Notre Dame. In 1835, over 6000 people attended the addresses. Famous anticlericals attended these sermons.

A sign of religious revival ? Or a sign of the interest which not very religious persons felt in a priest who was known to be left in politics and not in agreement with his archbishop ?

Lacordaire was a former disciple of Lamennais. He was one of those who journeyed to Rome in 1832 with Lamennais to meet with Pope Gregory XVI. But when the Pope condemned Lamennais` views in Mirari vos (15th August 1832) and Singulari nos (25th June 1834), he did not follow Lamennais out of the Church. ­

Whatever the effect of his words on thse others who attended, his words touched Eugenie’s heart, answered her many questions, and aroused her generosity.

Eugenie envisaged Christ as the universal liberator and his kingdom on earth established as a peaceful and just society.

"I was truly converted", she wrote, "and I was seized by a longing to devote all my strength or rather all my weakness to the Church which, from that moment, I saw as alone holding the key to the knowledge and achievement of all that is good."

Another preacher, also a former disciple of Lamennais, Father Combalot recognized that he had encountered a chosen soul who was designated to be the foundress of the Congregation he had dreamt of for a long time. He persuaded Eugenie to undertake his work by insisting that this Congregation was willed by God who had chosen her to establish it. He convinced her that only by education could she evangelize minds, make families truly Christian and thus transform the society of her time.

Anne Eugenie accepted the project as God’s will for her and allowed herself to be guided by the Abbe Combalot.

At twenty-two, Marie Eugenie became foundress of the Religious of the Assumption, dedicated to consecrate their whole life and strength to extending the Kingdom of Christ in themselves and in the world.


Biography on Vatican website

Assumptionist websites:

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