Are you on Viber? Or Twitter?
If you were to send a tweet to God, what would you say? And if he tweeted back, would that make your day? If we can stay connected with friends on Facebook or Instagram, can we also be linked-in to God in some way?
For Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, who was beatified in Avignon, France on November 19, 2016—one step before sainthood—the answer would definitely be yes. It is possible to be in continual exchange with God, to remain in His presence. He lived this reality and he sought to lead others into the intimacy with God.
Who was Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD?
He was a French Carmelite priest and founder of Notre Dame de Vie Institute, a Secular Institute for laypersons and priests.
Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene (born Henri Grialou) was born on December 2, 1894, into a simple, deeply Catholic family in a mining village in southwest France. He was the third of five children. His father, a miner, died when he was barely 10, leaving his mother to care for the family. He witnessed her suffering and courage, and loved her deeply.
Desiring to be a priest from early childhood, Henri set out for a seminary in Italy when he was not yet 11. It was a big sacrifice for him and his mother. He eventually continued his studies back in France. When World War I broke out, he served as an army officer and felt the powerful protection of St. Therese of the Child Jesus over him and his troops in the frontlines.
After resuming his priestly studies, he was ordained on February 4, 1922. His joy and gratitude were immense: “I am a Priest, a Priest for eternity! … O Jesus, You have identified me with yourself by giving me the powers of the priesthood!” But within this call came another: having read the life of St. John of the Cross, he felt drawn to the Order of Carmel. He joined it soon afterwards, taking the name Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus.
He would serve in the highest offices of the Order. As Vicar General, he travelled extensively not only in Europe, but also in North America, the Middle East and Asia. He preached and wrote profusely on the teachings of the Carmelite saints: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Therese of the Child Jesus. His major work, Je Veux Voir Dieu, a synthesis of the Carmelite doctrine on prayer and action, has been translated into six languages. In English it appears in two volumes as I Want to See God and I am a Daughter of the Church.
He believed that all Christians are called to prayer and holiness in ordinary life, to engage the world while remaining attentive to the Holy Spirit. In 1932, with Marie Pila he founded the Secular Institute Notre Dame de Vie in Venasque, France. This community of lay women, lay men, and priests live out the ideal of action and contemplation in daily life, whatever their vocation or profession.
In 1954, as Vicar General of the Carmelite Order, he visited the mission of the Carmelite Fathers in Infanta, Quezon, and established the Notre Dame de Vie Institute’s first overseas foundation. He likewise established the Federation of Carmelite Sisters in the Philippines, visiting the different monasteries.
His whole life was marked by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a deep love for the Blessed Mother. He called the Holy Spirit his ‘Friend’ and Mary his ‘Mother’. He died on March 27, 1967, Easter Monday, the very day on which he loved to celebrate the feast of Mary, Mother of Life.
This is Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus: Priest and Prophet, Carmelite Founder, Contemplative Apostle. Like St. Therese of the Child Jesus, this Spiritual Guide wants to make the Love of God known, not only in the monastic world, but also in the outskirts and on the boulevards of the world.
A Thanksgiving Mass for his Beatification will be celebrated on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. in the Carmel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Lanang, Davao City.