Saint Peter Julian Eymard - 2nd August
THE EARLY YEARS
Like all of us, Peter Julian Eymard [pronounced A-mar] was conditioned by his cultural background as well as by the sociopolitical milieu of his time. Life in France during the first half of the nineteenth century forms the backdrop against which to view the gradual unfolding of Peter Julian’s life story. Years earlier, the French Revolution of 1789 had radically altered the political, legal, social and religious structures of the country. As a teenager, the industrial revolution was changing the face of Europe. As a young man Eymard witnessed the dawning of the Age of Romanticism in art, music, and literature.Peter Julian Eymard’s road to the priesthood, as well as his life as a priest, was marked by the cross. In French society, there was a strong anticlericalism. In addition, the Eymard family was poor and Peter Julian’s father was reluctant to give his blessing to his son’s choice of career. His first attempt to attain priesthood ended because of serious illness. He tried again. On July 20, 1834, at 23 years of age, Eymard was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Grenoble.In Eymard’s day there was a religious movement called Jansenism. This movement focused on the gravity of human sinfulness and as a consequence stressed our unworthiness in the presence of a transcendent and perfect Divinity. In his early years as a seminarian and priest, Fr. Eymard was influenced by this reparation spirituality and he would struggle his whole life long to seek that inner perfection that would enable him to offer to God the gift of his entire self.Perhaps it was the intensification of this growing spiritual struggle along with Fr. Eymard’s desire to accomplish great things for God that led him to enter religious life. On August 20, 1839, Fr. Eymard became a member of the Marist Congregation by professing the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
As early as 1845, Eymard began to move away from a spirituality
“GIFT OF SELF”
As early as 1845, Eymard began to move away from a spirituality of reparation toward a spirituality of Christ-centered love. Three years prior to his death, Fr. Eymard made a long retreat in Rome. During this retreat, he was powerfully struck by the force of Christ’s love within him – a love he felt taking over his whole person.
Anticipating the renewal of the Church brought about by Vatican Councils I and II, Eymard had a vision of priests, deacons, sisters, and lay people living lives of total dedication to the spiritual values that are celebrated and contemplated in the Eucharistic celebration and in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
St. Peter Julian Eymard founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, a community dedicated to Eucharistic adoration.