OUR FOUNDING VISION TODAY: COMMUNION WITH THE SUCCESSORS OF PETER

What was the origin of Eugene’s understanding of and relationship with the Pope?

When Eugene arrived in Paris in 1808 to prepare himself to become a priest he was plunged into the world of conflict between Napoleon and the Church and Pope. Napoleon had occupied Rome, and the following year arrested Pope Pius VII and imprisoned him in Savona. He also brought the Cardinals of the curia from Rome to Paris. The Seminary of St Sulpice was one of the secret centers of helping them in their opposition to Napoleon, and because he was fluent in Italian, Eugene served the cardinals in Paris in many ways, particularly as a conduit to translate and pass them information. ( See http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=2278) Years later he recalled:

While only a deacon and then as a young priest, I had the privilege, despite the most active surveillance of a suspicious police force, of devoting myself to the daily reports connected with the service of the Roman cardinals, who at that time had been brought to Paris and shortly after persecuted because of their loyalty to the Holy See. The good fortune of being useful to these illustrious exiles and of being increasingly inspired by their spirit more than compensated me for the danger to which I was continually exposed.

Letter to Cardinal Gousset, 21 July 1852, quoted by Rey, II, 423.

In June 1812, the ailing Pope endured a cruel and painful journey over the Alps to Paris, where he was only to be released in 1814, ending six years of confinement. Eugene experienced, first-hand, all this persecution of the Church and was thus molded into a lifetime of being a fierce fighter for the Church and its leader.

Through the eyes of the Crucified Savior, he looked at the sufferings of the Pope, and wrote:

Thus it is that the disciple is not above his master (Luke 6:40) and that the Vicar of the Divine Savior portrays the one he represents.

Pastoral Letter, June 9, 1846

 DeMazenod_200th_banner English

“A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth – beware! – is not the true church of Jesus Christ.”    Blessed Oscar Romero

 

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

OUR FOUNDING VISION TODAY: COMMUNION AND COLLABORATION WITH THE CHURCH

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.

CC&RR, Constitution 6

Father Fernand Jetté was Superior General during the lengthy period of discernment, preparation and dialogue that produced the Oblate Rule of Life that is our guide today. He was an influential figure in its production, and thus his commentary helps us to understand the spirit of the Rule. He writes:

Eugene de Mazenod suffered for the Church and for the Pope; he also accepted to endure suffering that came from the Church and from the Pope. At the same time he manifested an indefectible fidelity to the Church and to the Pope.

Some have understood his attachment to the Church of Rome and to the Pope as a reaction against Gallicanism, as an ultramontane attitude. But it was above all an attitude of faith and he has asked that we have the same attitude: that we be able to welcome the Church’s teaching with a disposition of openness, trust and receptiveness. This does not mean an attitude that is simplistic and never voices any observations and suggestions, but one that is a manly attachment and of a deep, enlightened faith; and, should there be any criticism, that it be truly positive, such as is worthy of a child of the family.

F. Jetté OMI, The Apostolic Man, p. 68

 FOUNDING VISION

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”   Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

OUR FOUNDING VISION TODAY: UNCONDITIONALLY COMMITTED TO THE CHURCH

“Eugene de Mazenod was a man passionately in love with Jesus Christ and unconditionally committed to the Church.”

Eugene’s passionate love for Jesus Christ the Savior was the lens through which he perceived everything. It was from this vantage point that he understood the Church as the Body of the Savior, the People of God. It was this vision of unconditional commitment that he communicated to us:

Our love for the Church inspires us to fulfil our mission…

Constitution 6 of our Oblate Rule of Life invites us to unconditional commitment to the Church in widening spheres.

Firstly, to see our Church leaders as given to us by the Savior in order to fulfil our mission in communion with them.

Thereafter, in communion with the local church of which we form a part. The look of the Savior then leads us to work at living in unity with all who follow Jesus Christ, in their various expressions.

Finally, we are invited to recognize the values of God as expressed by those who do not know Jesus Christ. Our relationship with the Church is expressed in the full constitution reproduced here:

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.
Our efforts will be characterized by a genuine desire for unity with all who consider themselves followers of Jesus, so that, according to his prayer, all may believe that the Father has sent him (cf. Jn 17: 21). Finally, in our hope for the coming of God’s reign, we are united with all those who, without acknowledging Christ as Lord, nevertheless love what he loves.

CC&RR, Constitution 6

 FOUNDING VISION

“When God transforms the life of just one leader, that leader can transform a church. When one church is transformed, you can transform a community. And when enough churches are thriving, you can affect a region, a country, and eventually the entire world with the positive, life-changing power of Jesus Christ and the redeeming and restoring work of his people.”   Bill Hybels

 

Posted in WRITINGS | 2 Comments

OUR FOUNDING VISION TODAY: LOVE FOR THE CHURCH

Our love for the Church inspires us to fulfil our mission…

CC&RR, Constitution 6

One cannot think of St Eugene without thinking of the Church. He became a priest because he was deeply moved by her sorrowful state after the Revolution. He affirmed that he could not

sit back with arms folded, sighing softly to himself about all these evils, but not raising a finger to awaken even in the least degree people’s hardened hearts.

Letter to his mother, 4 April 1809, EO XIV, n. 50

He founded the Oblates for the very same reason:

The Church, that glorious inheritance purchased by the Saviour at the cost of all his blood has in our days been cruelly ravaged…
The sight of these evils has so touched the hearts of certain priests, zealous for the glory of God, men with an ardent love for the Church, that they are willing to give their lives, if need be, for the salvation of souls.

Preface

His love for the Church, as Body of Christ, guided all his actions until his death – and it was his desire that all who followed him would have the same love. In his last pastoral letter as Bishop of Marseille, he summarized the two hinges of his life:

How is it possible to separate our love for Jesus Christ from that we owe to the Church? These two kinds of love merge into one: to love the Church is to love Jesus Christ and vice versa.
We love Jesus Christ in his Church because she is his immaculate spouse who came out of his opened side on the cross…

Pastoral Letter to the Diocese of Marseille, 1860

“Eugene de Mazenod was a man passionately in love with Jesus Christ and unconditionally committed to the Church.”   Pope Paul VI at the Mass of Beatification in 1975.

DeMazenod_200th_banner English

Posted in WRITINGS | 2 Comments

THE FOUNDING VISION TODAY: GETTING OUR BEARINGS ON THE JOURNEY

With the rather long break from these reflections, it is good to look at the map and get our bearings once again. To mark our bicentenary year, I have been exploring our founding vision and how, by living this God-given charism for 200 years, we have responded with a distinctive spirituality. Thus, I have been asking the question, “What is the Oblate spirituality which is expressed and lived by many several; categories of members of the large Mazenodian Family in different ways?”

The core of our spirituality is expressed in our Oblate Rule of Life, which we are using as the basis of our reflection. Until now we have focused on the first 5 constitutions. I invite you to go back to some of the earlier entries on the website to refresh your memory.

We can approach the question from a different perspective. In 1976 a group of Oblate missionaries from all over the world gathered to reflect on their LIVED EXPERIENCE of the Oblate charism and to put its central elements into words. Here are the first five statements of their summary:

a) Above all we recognize the ascendancy over us of the living CHRIST, who wants to liberate the world with our assistance, providing we first of all accept that he liberate us.

b) We wish to EVANGELIZE, that is to say, to make him known, he who became fully man to save us completely and fraternally; remembering that our Founder gave priority to the preaching of the Gospel for conversion, we want to witness by our lives the joy of the Good News.

c) It is to the POOR that we want above all to bring the message of liberating joy: to the most humanly destitute, to those whose situations cry out for justice before God; in no way does this exclude our wanting to share this message with all who are in pressing need of these good news, even if they are not materially deprived.-

d) We receive our mission from the CHURCH and fulfil it within her, a body of believers where Christ’s grace is made present and effective.

e) To this end we live in COMMUNITY, a human group where we fortify ourselves reciprocally in faith through charity, with mutual enrichment from our discovery of God and Christ living and acting in us and in the world.

Statement of the OMI Charism Congress, 1976.

FOUNDING VISION

“Talking about peoples lived experiences is a powerful way to mobilize them.”   C. Lake

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

SUMMER BREAK

Our daily reflections will resume on 18 July.

I have a number of activities and commitments where I will not have access to internet. I look forward to continuing our reflections thereafter.

DeMazenod_200th_banner English

Posted in WRITINGS | 2 Comments

OUR FOUNDING VISION TODAY: MISSIONARY DISCIPLES WHO SHARE SPIRITUALITY

We are a missionary Congregation…
Wherever we work, our mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring. These are the poor with their many faces; we give them our preference.

CC&RR, Constitution 5

Our lengthy reflection on the meaning of being a missionary congregation has shown the importance of the missionary character of our baptismal Mazenodian vocation. All of us are missionary disciples whose outlook and spirituality is missionary: like, Eugene, sharing with others our own experience of life and meaning.

Pope John Paul in his encyclical Redemptoris Missio (in whose composition our own former Oblate Superior General, Fr Marcello Zago, had a hand) concludes our reflection on how sharing our spirituality is mission:

Our times are both momentous and fascinating. While on the one hand people seem to be pursuing material prosperity and to be sinking ever deeper into consumerism and materialism, on the other hand we are witnessing a desperate search for meaning, the need for an inner life, and a desire to learn new forms and methods of meditation and prayer. Not only in cultures with strong religious elements, but also in secularized societies, the spiritual dimension of life is being sought after as an antidote to dehumanization. This phenomenon — the so-called “religious revival”– is not without ambiguity, but it also represents an opportunity. The Church has an immense spiritual patrimony to offer humankind, a heritage in Christ, who called himself “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6): it is the Christian path to meeting God, to prayer, to asceticism, and to the search for life’s meaning. (Redemptoris Missio n 38)

Edm mission

“Mission is the heartbeat of the Body of Christ”   J. Crampsey SJ

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

OUR FOUNDING VISION TODAY: ALWAYS MISSIONARY DISCIPLES

 

We are a missionary Congregation….
Wherever we work, our mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring.

CC&RR, Constitution 5

Pope Francis captures the missionary heart of St Eugene and of our missionary vision today :

“Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly ex­perienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”. If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1:41)…

Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?”

The Joy of the Gospel,

Eugene received the love which restored meaning to his life one Good Friday, and responded with a life of missionary discipleship. Here we find the meaning of our vocation today.

Edm mission

Benedict XVI take us to the very heart of the Gospel: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

Posted in WRITINGS | 2 Comments

OUR FOUNDING VISION TODAY: LOOKING AT THE FACE OF THE OTHER

When Eugene reflected on his conversion he spoke about having searched for happiness outside of God, and finding only unhappiness and frustration. When he looked at himself through the eyes of the Crucified Savior, he recognized his own poverty and emptiness, and received the Good News of Jesus that transformed him. From that moment he began to see others through the eyes of the Crucified Savior and understand their poverty, he dedicated himself to bring the Savior and His Gospel to these poor. It became his life-time focus.

Wherever we work, our mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring.
These are the poor with their many faces; we give them our preference.

CC&RR, Constitution 5

We can speak of circles of poverty for Eugene. Firstly, the Church, Spouse of Christ and Body of Christ, in her poverty and persecution – battered by the Revolution and by politics and some of the current philosophical trends and world views.

Secondly, those who were not being exposed to the Gospel as a result of the structures of the local churches and their scarcity of ministers and means. Two hundred years of Oblate preaching of parish missions, of outreach from permanent mission centers, of lay cooperators, and many other ministries aimed to bring the Gospel in more effective ways to these poor. Linked with this, was the reality that the majority of the persons in the second circle who were spiritually thirsty were materially poor and needy. Bishop Eugene’s ministry in Marseille was a non-stop series of responses to the cry of the poor in his diocese.

Then there was the circle of those who had never heard the Gospel preached around the world, and who had not encountered the Savior. We are grateful for two hundred years of amazing missionary zeal in over 65 countries.

Today, who are the poor with their many faces that I encounter each day? How can I look at them through the eyes of my Crucified Savior?

omi rule

“Look at the face of the other… discover that he has a soul, a history and a life, that he is a person and that God loves this person.”   Pope Benedict XVI

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment

OUR FOUNDING VISION TODAY: THE POOR WITH THEIR MANY FACES

On March 17 I had written: “Two hundred years have passed since Eugene and his first companions expressed their founding vision in writing and in actions. Today that initial vision continues to inspire us and is expressed in a special way in our Rule of Life, revised in 2012. Our first ten Constitutions capture the founding vision and the spirit which has continued to inspire us and be expressed for two centuries. I will share these with you in the coming days.” Since then we have been exploring this vision and spirit, and continue to do so now as we reflect on our mission.

Wherever we work, our mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring.
These are the poor with their many faces; we give them our preference.

CC&RR, Constitution 5

Fr. Fernand Jetté, Oblate Superior General 1974 – 1986), was a gifted writer when he reflected on our charism. As we explore our Mazenodian spirituality, let us reflect with him on this Constitution of our Rule of Life:

The preferential option for the poor has been with the Oblates right from the time of their founding.

Who are the poor, as far as we are concerned? According to the times, milieus, needs and particular sensitivities, some have tended to consider especially the condition of material poverty, while others looked upon the condition of spiritual poverty or neglect verified in one given group or another. In the case of the Founder, and traditionally within our religious institute, both forms of poverty have been taken into account; the second, however, has always been the specific element of our mission.

The Founder speaks of the most poor, the most neglected, the most abandoned and uses these expressions as pretty well meaning the same thing. He had in mind first of all the religious ignorance and often the spiritual misery under which these poor people labour. Most of the time these persons and groups also live in conditions that are materially precarious or miserable, which conditions emarginate them in regard to Christians who are more prosperous. These poor people are generally not reached by the Church’s ordinary ministry. To establish contact with them, special steps must be adopted, a certain distance taken from rich milieus, one has to strike out into unfamiliar territory, to learn a new language. Sometimes one also has to leave one’s own country, for the poor may be people living in far away places that are quite isolated or difficult of access, where few priests or missionaries can or want to go.”

F. Jetté,  OMI The Apostolic Man, p 60-61

omi rule

Luke 4:18:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”

Luke 6:20:  Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

Posted in WRITINGS | 1 Comment