First he discovered that being a Catholic doesn’t simply come from living in a Catholic country but it is the outcome of one’s personal, transforming encounter with the Saviour. The French Revolution had drastically changed the society’s religious milieu. It didn’t support the Catholic way of life any more but it rather demanded on one’s part a strong commitment to Jesus and his Church.
Secondly, St Eugene was to discover that what his country needed wasn’t a new royal edict making all citizens Catholics again. Those strayed French needed a fresh, new chance to discover Jesus as God who loved them and wanted their love. That’s why when some 30 years later he began serving as a priest he was deeply inspired by a contemporary Catholic thinker who died on the day when he celebrated his fifth birthday (August 1, 1787). The thinker was Alphonsus Liguori.
Sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit St Eugene recognized that the moral theology of Liguori which highlighted God’s mercy toward sinners was a perfect means to reach out to those who were already deeply wounded in the spiritual and personal life in the aftermath of the Revolution. The acceptance of the moral directives of Alphonsus Liguori ostracized the future Founder of the Oblates. He was accused of being too easy giving absolution. However Our Founder guided by the supernatural sense of faith never abandoned Moral Theology of Liguori.
The spiritual closeness of the two saints who never met on earth was sealed in 1816 when first on January 25 Eugene and his companions established the community of Missionaries which eventually evolved into Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and then on September 15 Alphonsus Liguori was beatified by Pope Pius VII. St Eugene saw in the Church’s recognition of Liguori some further affirmation of merciful approach to sinners.
Finally I would like to recall Pope John Paul II who described Alphonsus as "a close friend of the people ... a missionary who went in search of the most abandoned souls ... a founder who wanted a group which would make a radical option in favor of the lowly ... a Bishop whose house was open to all ... a writer who focused on what would be of benefit to people." If I didn’t know that it was about Alhponsus Liguori I could think that it was a perfect description of the man who was born in Aix on August 1, 1782 – Charles Joseph Eugene de Mazenod.