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THE RIGHT REVEREND A. CAILLOT, BISHOP OF GRENOBLE, FOLLOWING THE REPORT
PREPARED DURING THE CANONICAL ENQUIRY INTO THE CASE OF MOTHER EUGENIA
Ten years have passed since, as Bishop of Grenoble, I decided to open an enquiry into Mother Eugenia's case. I now have enough information to bring my testimony as Bishop before the Church.
The first thing to emerge with certainty from the enquiry is that Mother Eugenia's considerable virtues are well established. From the beginning of her religious life, the sister has attracted her superiors' attention because of her piety, her obedience and her humility.
Her superiors, perplexed by the extraordinary nature of the events which occurred during her novitiate, had not wanted to let her stay on in the convent. After some hesitation they were forced to abandon their plan when faced with the nun's exemplary conduct.
During the enquiry, Sister Eugenia showed great patience and the outmost docility in submitting without complaint to all the medical tests, answering the theological and medical commissions' often long and distressing questioning, and accepting contradictions and trials. Her simplicity, in particular, was praised by all the investigators.
A number of circumstances also showed the nun to be capable of practicing virtue to a heroic degree. According to the theologians, an especially striking feature was her obedience during Father Auguste Valencin's enquiry in June 1934, and her humility on the sad day of 20 December, 1934.
I can attest that while she was Superior General I found her very devoted to her duty, dedicating herself to her task which must have seemed all the more difficult to her as she was not prepared for it-with great love for souls, her Congregation and the Church. Those close to her are struck, as I myself am, by the strength of spirit in facing difficulties.
I am impressed not only by her virtues but also by the qualities she displays in exercising her authority. Also striking is the fact that a relatively uneducated nun should come to fill her Congregation's highest office. In this there is already something extraordinary and, from this point of view, the enquiry conducted by Vicar General, Mgr. Guerry, on the day of her election, is very significant. The answers, given by the Chapter members and by the superiors and the delegates of the various missions showed that they were choosing Mother Eugenia as their Superior General- in spite of her youth and the canonical obstacles which would normally have caused the idea of her nomination to be rejected because of her qualities of judgement, balanced temperament, energy and firmness. Reality would seem to have far surpassed the hopes that her electors placed in her.
What I especially noticed in her was her lucid, lively and penetrating intelligence. I said that her education had been inadequate, but this was for external reasons over which she had no control: her mother's long illness had compelled her at a very early age, to look after the house and be absent from school very often. Then, before she entered the convent, there were the hard years she worked in industry as a weaver. Notwithstanding these basic gaps, the consequences of which are evidences in her style and spelling. Mother Eugenia gives many lectures in her community. It is worth noting that she herself compiles her Congregation's circulars and the contracts with the municipal authorities or administrative councils regarding the hospital institutes of Our Lady of the Apostles. She had also compiled a long directory.
She sees every situation clearly and correctly, as if it were a matter of conscience. Her instructions are straightforward, precise and very practical. She knows each of her 1400 daughters personally, and also their attitude and their virtues; hence she is able to select those who are most qualified to perform various tasks. She also has an accurate personal knowledge of her Congregation's needs and resources. She knows the situation in every house and has visited all her missions.
We wish to emphasize also her spirit of far-sightedness. She has taken all the necessary measures for every hospital or school to have qualified nuns and whatever they need to live and develop. I find it particularly interesting to note that Mother Eugenia seems to possess a spirit of decisiveness, a sense of reality and a creative will. In six years she has founded 67 institutes and has been able to introduce very useful improvements in her Congregation.
If I single out her qualities of intelligence, judgement and will, and her powers of administration, it is because they seem to me to rule out definitely all the hypotheses about hallucinations, illusions, spiritism, hysteria or delirium. These were examined during the enquiry but proved incapable of giving a satisfactory explanation of the facts.
Mother Eugenia's life is a constant demonstration of her mental and general equilibrium, which, to the observer, seems to be the dominant feature of her personality. Other hypotheses, about suggestibility and manageability, led the investigators to wonder whether they might be dealing with a very impressionable temperament, like a multi-faceted mirror which reflects all influences and suggestions. These hypotheses were also rejected for reasons of everyday reality. Although Mother Eugenia is gifted with a sensitive nature and an emotional disposition, she has shown she has never favoured anyone and that, far from letting herself be influenced by human considerations, she has always been able to determine her own projects and activities and to gain the acceptance of others through her personal insight.
2. The object of the mission which would appear to have been entrusted to Mother Eugenia is precise and, from the doctrinal point of view, I see it as legitimate and timely.
Its precise object is to make God the Father known and honoured, mainly by the institution of a special feast which has been requested of the Church. The enquiry established that a liturgical feast in honour of the Father would be quite in keeping with Catholic practice as a whole. It would accord with the traditional trust of Catholic prayer, which ascends to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit, as shown by the prayers of the Mass and the liturgical oblation to the Father during the Holy Sacrifice. However, it is strange that there is no special feast in honour of the Father. The Trinity is honoured as such, the Word and the Holy Spirit are honoured by the mission and external manifestations. Only the Father has no feast of His own which would draw the attention of the Christian people to his Person. This is the reason why a fairly extensive survey of the faithful has shown that, in the various social classes and even among many priests and religious, "the Father is unknown, no one prays to Him, no one thinks of Him". The survey reveals, rather surprisingly, that a large number of Christians remain distant from the Father because they see Him as a terrifying judge. They prefer to turn to Christ's humanity. And how many ask Jesus to protect them from the Father's anger!
A special feast would thus have the effect firstly of re-establishing order in the spirituality of many Christians and, secondly, of leading them back to the Divine Saviour's instructions: "Everything you ask the Father in My name…" and again "You will pray like this: 'Our Father…"
A liturgical feast dedicated to God the Father would also have the effect of raising our eyes towards the One Whom the apostle St. James called "the Father of light, from Whom every gift comes…" It would accustom souls to consider God's goodness and His fatherly providence. They would realize that this providence is truly that of God the Holy Trinity, and that it is because of his divine nature, common to all three Persons, that God spreads through the world and ineffable treasures of his infinite mercy.
It would seem, at first sight, as if there were no special reason to honour the Father in particular. But was it not the Father who sent His Son into the world? If it is supremely right to show devotion to the Son and the Holy Spirit because of their external manifestations, would it not be right and proper to give thanks to God the Father, as the Prefaces of the Mass require, for the gift He sent us, His Son?
The real object of this special feast thus becomes plain: to honour the Father, to thank Him, to praise Him for having giving us His Son; in a word, as the message states, as the Author of our Redemption; to thank Him Who loved the world so much that He gave His only-begotten Son, so that all men might be brought together in the Mystical Body of Christ and, together with His Son, become His children.
At a time when the world is troubled by secular doctrines, atheism and modern philosophies and no longer recognizes God, the true God, would not this feast make known to many the living Father, the Father of mercy and goodness, Whom Jesus has revealed to us? Would it not contribute to an increase in the number of those who worship the Father "in spirit and in truth", to whom Jesus referred? Now, when the world is being torn apart by deadly wars, when it feels the need to seek a solid principle of union to bring the peoples closer together, this feast would bring a great light. It would teach men that they all have the same Father in Heaven: the One Who gave them Jesus, towards Whom He draws them as members of His Mystical Body in the unity of the same Spirit of Love! When so many souls are weary and tired of the tribulations of war, they may be hungering for a deep spiritual life. Might not such a feast call them, then, "from within", to worship the Father who hides Himself, and to offer themselves in a filial and generous oblation to the Father, the only source of the life of the Holy Trinity in them? Would it not preserve that fine movement of supernatural life which naturally draws souls towards spiritual childhood and through confidence-towards filial life with the Father, towards abandonment to the divine will, towards the spirit of faith?
On the other hand, a problem of doctrine arises, quite apart from the question of a special feast and regardless of what the Church may decide on this matter. Some eminent theologians believe that the doctrine of the Soul's relationship with the Trinity needs to be examined more deeply, and that it could be for souls a source of enlightenment on the life of union with the Father and the Son, about which St. John speaks, and on the sharing in the life of Jesus, Son of the Father, especially in His filial love for the Father.
But, apart from these theological reasons, what I wish to underline here is this: a poor young woman, unversed in theology, declares that she is receiving messages from God, and these may be very rich in doctrine.
The works of an imaginary visionary are poor, barren and inconsistent. However, the message that Mother Eugenia says the Father entrusted to her is fertile. There is a harmonious interaction of two different characters which tends to confirm its authenticity. On the one hand, it is presented as something traditionally held by the Church, without any suspicious innovations, for it incessantly repeats that everything has already been said in Christ's revelation about His Father, and that everything is in the Gospel. But on the other hand, it declares that this great truth, concerning knowledge of the Father, needs to be re-considered, studied deeply and experienced.
Does not the disproportion between the weakness of the instrument, in capable of discovering a doctrine of this nature by itself, and the depth of the message being conveyed, reveal that a superior, supernatural, divine cause has intervened to entrust the sister with this message?
I cannot see how, humanly speaking, one could explain the nun's discovery of an idea, the originality and fecundity of which the theologians conducting the enquiry were able to perceive only gradually.
Another fact seems to me equally significant: when Sister Eugenia made it known that she had been receiving apparitions of the Father, the investigating theologians replied that apparitions of the Father were in themselves impossible and that they had never occurred before in history. The sister held out against these objections, declaring simply:"The Father told me to describe what I saw. He asks His sons, the theologians , to search". The nun never changed her testimony in anyway. She maintained her statements over many months. It was not until January 1934 that the theologians discovered in St. Thomas Aquinas himself the answer to their objections.
The answer given by the great doctor of the Church about the distinction between apparitions and mission was enlightening. It removed the obstacle which was paralysing the whole enquiry. Challenged by wise theologians, the uneducated little nun proved to be right. How, humanly speaking, could we explain, in this case too, the nun's insight wisdom and perseverance? A false visionary would have tried to adapt herself to the theologians' explanations. The nun, however, held her ground. These are the additional reasons why her testimony seems trustworthy to us.
In any case, what I find worthy of note is her reserved attitude towards the miraculous aspects of the case. While false visionaries give pride to place extraordinary phenomena and even see nothing but these, Mother Eugenia, in the contrary, puts them second, as proofs, as means. There is not state of exaltation, but there is a balance of values which makes a favourable impression.
I will refer only briefly to the theologians' enquiry. The Reverend Fathers Albert and Auguste Valencin are highly esteemed for their philosophical and theological authority and for their deep knowledge of the spiritual life. Their intervention was required in other, similar enquiries. We know that they acted with great circumspection, and that is why we selected them for this work.
We are grateful for their devoted and conscientious collaboration. Their testimony in favour of the sister and of a supernatural explanation of the facts as a whole is all the more remarkable as they delayed their judgement for a long time, being at first hostile and sceptical, and then hesitant. Little by little, they became convinced, after raising all kinds of objections and imposing hard tests on the nun.
Following the dictates of my soul and my conscience and with the keenest sense of my responsibility to the Church, I declare that supernatural and divine intervention seems to me the only logical and satisfactory explanation of the facts.
Isolated from all the surrounding features of the case, these essential facts seem to me to be noble,lofty and supernaturally rich: that a humble nun has called souls to true devotion to the Father, such as Jesus taught and the Church has enshrined in its liturgy. There is nothing alarming in this, only something that is very simple and in accordance with solid doctrine.
The miraculous facts which accompany this message could be separated from the main event and its value would still be preserved in its entirety. For doctrinal reasons, the Church will declare whether the idea of a special feast can be considered separately from this particular case involving the sister.
I believe that the fundamental proof of the authenticity of the nun's mission is shown by the way in which she puts into practice in her life the beautiful doctrine which she was apparently destined to remind us of.
I deem it proper to let her continue her work. I believe that the hand of God is in all this. After ten years of research, reflection and prayer, I bless the Father for having deigned to choose my diocese as the place for such touching manifestations of His love.
+ Alexandre Caillot, Bishop of Grenoble.
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