I searched in the world for what can only be found in God.
Living for God
After the Concordat of 1801 between Pius Vll and Napoleon Bonaparte the Church in France began to come cautiously out into the open. Pierre Bienvenu Noailles both witnessed and took an active part in its reconstruction. His generous nature came to the fore thanks to Fr. Dinéty’s intelligent and tactful guidance. The priest had succeeded in gaining the confidence of this fiery personality. His mother watched over him gently and with some concern. What was to become of him, she wondered. “Cheer up, mother. One day I will be a a priest,” he told her. Little by little his way of life changed.
He was a young adult of twenty years when he finally received Holy Communion and shared in the body of Christ. This was one of the key events in the life of Pierre Bienvenu. On the eve of that day he went into the cathedral, the place of his baptism, to pray before the statue of Our Blessed Lady and had a mystical experience of the infinite mercy of God. It filled him with an unforgettable joy that ever after remained for him a reference for what true happiness could be.
One of the first fruits of the divine grace he had been granted was evident in his efforts to detach himself from the frivolous pleasure that still took up his time and attention. He tried to make the gospel his way of life so that God would be the only guide in his life.
Some years later in the seminary he went deeper into this spiritual experience and, referring to this period of his life, wrote in his retreat notes:
“I searched in the world for what can only be found in God alone”.
At that time his duties as secretary left Pierre Bienvenu sufficient time to continue his studies but he was also involved in a multiplicity of interests. In 1814 he founded a literary circle, then a society for Law students and lawyers’ secretaries. It was he who drew up the rules and constitutions of these societies and was the driving force behind them. The seed of leadership was growing in this young man, so full of vitality. He had an unusual capacity to bring people together.
He had difficulty settling on a profession. As a supporter of the Bourbon claims to the throne of France, he thought of a military career. His kindness of heart made him think of being a doctor. The legal profession was never far from his mind. There was no lack of eligible young ladies whom he could have married…
Since his first communion the idea of the priesthood was slowly taking hold of his subconscious mind and heart. It was at first little more than a vague notion at first but eventually it came to the surface. Perhaps he had felt himself unworthy but it must be admitted that this was the only way of life capable of channelling his generous nature in such a way as to make it bear fruit in all its fullness