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Daring to Listen to God’s Call

Four twenty minute videos, beginning on October 4 and you can watch at any convenient time.

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PAUSE UNTIL OCTOBER 4

A technical glitch regarding translations has forced us to take a break until October 4.

I invite you to revisit some of the older entries (there are 2565 to choose from)

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JOIN THE MAZENODIAN FAMILY IN PRAYER AROUND THE WORLD

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THEY ARE CONVINCED THAT THEY WILL NEVER AGAIN SEE THEIR HOMELAND, AND THEY WOULD REPROACH THEMSELVES FOR ANY REGRETS THEY MIGHT HAVE ABOUT IT

In the previous entry we saw how Eugene committed the three young Oblates destined to be missionaries in Canada, Brothers Brunet, Garin and Laverlochère, to Mary’s protection. He wrote about them to Father Guigues, the superior of the community where they received their first formation. Father Vincens had been the one responsible for their formation.

Last Sunday they were ordained subdeacons together with Brother Nicolas. The day after tomorrow, I will ordain them deacons… tell Father Vincens that I am very happy with these young men.

It is impossible to have more generous sentiments, more perfect dedication, more thoughts that are supernatural. They are sacrificing their most natural and legitimate affections with a true joy arising from their faithfulness to and love for their holy vocation. They are convinced that they will never again see their homeland, and they would reproach themselves for any regrets they might have about it.

These young men knew that they would probably never see their families or their country of origin again. They understood and accepted that this heavy sacrifice was the consequence of their oblation.

The Lord has given us our marching orders, they said to me; nothing else should come to mind. Truly I have a bit of difficulty to hide my emotion and admiration. These are truly disciples who honor their Master.

Letter to Father Bruno Guigues, 18 August 1843, EO X n 812

They had understood and taken to heart Eugene’s words, spoken 25 years before:

Our Lord Jesus Christ has left to us the task of continuing the great work of the redemption of mankind. It is towards this unique end that all our efforts must tend; as long as we will not have spent our whole life and given all our blood to achieve this, we having nothing to say; especially when as yet we have given only a few drops of sweat and a few spells of fatigue.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 22 August 1817, EO VI n. 21

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OUR YOUNG OBLATES CAME TO PLACE THEMSELVES AND THEIR MISSIONS UNDER THE PROTECTION OF OUR GOOD MOTHER

Our Founder, as a result of being an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, had a special love for the Marseilles shrine of Notre Dame de la Garde – Our Lady the Guardian of the city and of those who travel by sea from the port.

Mass at Notre Dame de la Garde according to my custom, which is to go up to the sanctuary on Thursday during the octave of the feast….

In a special way Eugene was accompanied by three young Oblate scholastics who were to leave for Canada, and who would be ordained to the priesthood in that country where they would be missionaries.

I made our young Oblates accompany me there, Brothers Brunet, Garin and Laverlochère, who came to place themselves and their missions under the protection of our good Mother. Brother Nicolas was detained in bed by a passing illness. En route, the confirmation of a sick person. I come back to these excellent young people; a person cannot have more worthy sentiments about their vocation. They are going to leave for Canada.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 17 August 1843, EO XXI

Eugene was to build a magnificent basilica for Notre Dame de la Garde, to whose maternal care he entrusted all his Oblate missionaries who were to leave France.

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THEY ARE ESSENTIALLY MEN OF THE BISHOPS

 In the letter to the Bishop of Quebec, which we saw in the previous entry, Eugene has one sentence which it is important to focus on:

They are essentially men of the bishops. It is with this in view that I have founded them and, thanks be to God, they are all imbued with this spirit that belongs to their Institute.

Letter to the Bishop of Quebec, 10 August 1843, EO I n 22

The phrase “they are men of the bishops” has been misused at times. It does not mean that Oblate priests are to be treated by the local bishop as diocesan priests, to be used as he thinks best. The second part of Eugene’s statement gives the key to understanding this assertion: ” they are all imbued with this spirit that belongs to their Institute.” Oblate priests have a specific charism and spirit that they contribute to the local diocese and with which they do their ministry. On several occasions, Eugene withdrew Oblates from a place or refused an invitation to take on a ministry because the specific aspect of being missionary preachers, in an apostolic community, to the “poor with their many faces” was absent.

Our approach is to minister according to our charism in communion with the diocese and to be mindful that our vocation is different from that of the diocesan priests in their administration of the Word and the sacraments. When we are assigned to parishes we are called to fulfil the same ministry but as missionaries in apostolic community.

From our Rule of Life:
“Our love for the Church inspires us to fulfil our mission in communion with the pastors whom the Lord has given to his people; we accept loyally, with an enlightened faith, the guidance and teachings of the successors of Peter and the Apostles.
We coordinate our missionary activity with the overall pastoral plan of the local Churches where we work, and we collaborate in a spirit of brotherhood with others who work for the Gospel.” OMI Constitutions and Rule, Constitution 6

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MY CHILDREN HAVE CROSSED THE SEAS TO WORK WITH ALL THE ZEAL OF WHICH THEY ARE CAPABLE

At the end of the General Chapter, the Founder gave Father Telmon a letter to deliver to the Bishop of Quebec, the diocese adjoining the one where the Oblates were already ministering.

More than ever, Bishop, I am conscious of the worth of the charity which unites us over the great distance which separates us. My children have crossed the seas to work with all the zeal of which they are capable in that part of the vineyard of the Father governed by our venerable colleagues in the episcopate of Canada. This is one more bond which unites me to the bishops for whose service I am so happy to be able to confide a small detachment of the troops I have trained for the battles of the Lord.  have learned with joy from my holy friend the Bishop of Montreal, who is a father to them, that they have already done much good in his vast diocese.

Realizing how much good God was doing through their ministry, the heart of Eugene (often described as being as large as the world) expanded to dream to share this with the whole of Canada.

My whole ambition is that this good be propagated, if possible, throughout the whole of Canada which has been so understanding in their regard.
They are essentially men of the bishops. It is with this in view that I have founded them and, thanks be to God, they are all imbued with this spirit that belongs to their Institute.
So were it ever convenient to you, because of their proximity, to have recourse to their ministry, do not hesitate to avail yourself of it in keeping with the principles which guide them and of which I shall inform you if occasion arises.

Letter to the Bishop of Quebec, 10 August 1843, EO I n 22

This missionary zeal has been our hallmark for over 200 years – initially with a small group of Oblates, and now through the enthusiasm and generosity of all those who make up the Mazenodian Family throughout the world.

Our Rule of Life captures this well:

“…we have complementary responsibilities in evangelizing. We will spare no effort to awaken or to reawaken the faith in the people to whom we are sent, and we will help them to discover ‘who Christ is’. Our mission puts us on constant call to respond to the most urgent needs of the Church through various forms of witness and ministry…” OMI Constitutions and Rule, Constitution 7

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I MUST THANK GOD FOR THE HEALTH THAT HE MAINTAINS IN ME AND ASK HIS PARDON FOR THE BAD USE OF 61 YEARS OF LIFE.

Eugene never gave importance to celebrating his birthday.

Patience! Still another year. I must thank God for the health that he maintains in me and ask his pardon for the bad use of 61 years of life.

Rather, he put the focus on the anniversary of his baptism, the next day. It was his custom to celebrate this important day each year with the Capuchin Sisters in their contemplative monastery.

Customary stopover with the Capuchins where I am going to say community Mass on the occasion of the pardon of Saint Francis.[ed: Allusion to the indulgence of the Portiuncula granted by Pope Honorius III to the faithful who would be visiting, on August 2, 1221, the sanctuary of the Portiuncula, first house of the Order of Saint Francis near Assissi. This indulgence was subsequently made perpetual.]

I always begin my new year in this fashion surrounded by the fervent prayers of these angels in this world who have so much charity, so great an attachment for me. Their church has been filled all morning, so edifying is their assistance.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 2 August 1843, EO XXI

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I HOPE THAT YOU WILL DO MUCH, BECAUSE YOU SINCERELY LOVE THE GOOD GOD AND THE CHURCH

In the previous entry we reflected on the letter that Eugene had rediscovered from his former spiritual director at the seminary, and the encouragement it gave him to be God’s instrument in the Church. He continued to quote the letter:

I assure you that I do not cease to think about you and to thank the good God for the courage which he gives you. I hope that you will do much, because you sincerely love the good God and the Church. I embrace you with all my heart and am with all my heart entirely yours.

Duclaux, October 2, 1815.

Eugene then commented in his diary:

Reverend Duclaux was my director, all the time that I spent at the seminary. Reverend Duclaux was not only a great theologian (he had been the first with his degree), but he was the man who spoke the best about spiritual matters. He delighted everyone, in his daily explanations, which at the seminary he made the spiritual reading, and this flowed from its source. Whatever was the book being read, he added, from his own, reflections which made still more of an impression; it was a gift that no one possessed like him. The fact is, this holy man was filled with the spirit of God to the supreme degree.

This reminds me of the reflection with which he always began the decisions which someone solicited from him; if by any chance the matter was important, he requested time to reflect on it before God.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 30 July 1843, EO XXI

As I read this entry I am filled with gratitude for the people God has placed in my life who have been guides and sources of encouragement and inspiration. Let’s make some time today to recall with gratitude all those who have done this for us.

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THE GOOD GOD WAITS ONLY FOR OUR CONVERSION IN ORDER TO SHOWER US WITH HIS GRACE

Rummaging through his old papers, Eugene came across a letter from Father Duclaux, his former spiritual director in the seminary in Paris. It had been written nearly 30 years earlier, in 1815, when Eugene was discerning whether God was calling him to bring together a group of priests to respond to the spiritual needs of the most abandoned in Provence. He wrote in his diary:

Today, in paging through my old papers, in order to relegate a cartload to the fire, I found a precious letter from the saintly M. Duclaux, my director at Saint Sulpice, who died as Superior General of that congregation. It is entirely good, like everything that came from his wonderful soul; but, among other things, he wrote to me, in 1815:

“For me, I can only thank my good Master for all the pious sentiments that he inspires in you. Continue to work with all your strength for the restoration of religion; preach, instruct, enlighten the French about the cause of the evils that weigh them down; may your voice be heard in every region of Provence; the good God waits only for our conversion in order to shower us with his grace.”

It was the encouragement that Eugene needed to hear as he discerned God’s will and brought together the future Missionary Oblates.

Father Duclaux also stressed that it was not sufficient to bring the people to know Jesus Christ as Savior through parish missions and preaching: it was essential that there be good priests to shepherd the people on a permanent basis in their parishes.

But, above all, form an ecclesiastical spirit among the priests. You will not achieve any good, as long as you do not have excellent priests at the head of parishes. Therefore, urge all the ecclesiastics to be saints; may they read the lives of Saint Charles and of Saint Vincent de Paul; they will see if it is tolerable for a priest, for a pastor to be lukewarm and without zeal.

Duclaux, October 2, 1815.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 30 July 1843, EO XXI

Eugene never forgot this good advice and from the start of the Oblates, one of their works was retreats and times of renewal for diocesan priests. In time this led to the opening of seminaries in France and other parts of the world.

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