Dear mother, be one with me on Christmas Eve, join in the holy mysteries in Aix while I celebrate them for you in Amiens, in the most fervent of communities [ed. the Sisters of the Sacred Heart]; let each of us for our own part speak our minds to our good Master who assuredly will be quite unable to say no on such a wonderful day…

Letter to his mother, 8 December 1811, O.W. XIV n. 96

After his ordination, the custom was to spend more days in retreat in preparation for celebrating Mass for the first time. On the day of his ordination he wrote:

I leave you now, dear, darling mother. I have three days still to get used to the idea that I am a priest and prepare to celebrate the divine mysteries on the delightful night our lovable Saviour is born in a stable….

Letter to his mother after his priestly ordination, 21 December 1811, O.W. XIV n.97

In the Annales of the house of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Amiens it is stated: “December 25, 1811, at midnight M. de Mazenod and M. Desportes, who had been ordained at the priesthood some days before, said their Mass in the chapel of the Holy Virgin, and afterwards at 10:00 a.m., after high Mass, they carried out the ceremony of the imparting of first blessing.”

For the blessing, Eugene had instructed the Master of Ceremonies:

During the moving ceremony of imparting of first blessing, please have the psalm Credidi propter quod, etc. [ed. “I believed; therefore I said…” Psalm 116:10], sung as in the seminary, preceded by the antiphon, Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus quae retribuit mihi [ed. “How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?” Psalm 116:12], that is repeated at every verse and has a quite ravishing effect on the newly-ordained priest because of all the feelings it gives rise to in his heart.

Note to Father de Sambucy, master of ceremonies at Eugene’s First Masses, 24 December 1811, O.W. XIV n. 99

For the sake of completeness I include some of his Mass intentions for his first, second and third Masses, which were the three Christmas Masses:

First Mass, Christmas Eve: for myself.
To obtain forgiveness of my sins, love of God above all things, and perfect love of neighbour.
Utmost sorrow for having offended such a good and lovable God. The grace of making reparation for my faults by a life wholly and solely employed in his service and for the salvation of souls.
The Spirit of J.C.
Final perseverance, and even martyrdom or at least death while tending victims of the plague, or any other kind of death for God’s glory or the salvation of souls.
A holy freedom of spirit in God’s service…
The grace of showing me his holy will: 1) as to the kind of ministry I am to take up, 2) in my every daily action, however trivial seeming, and a constant attention to his interior voice that I might do nothing that is not in accordance with his good pleasure.
Second Christmas Mass: for the repose of the soul of my dearest grandmother.
Third Christmas Mass: for my father, mother, sister, two uncles, niece, brother-in-law, cousin, and all my other relatives in general. For all their spiritual and temporal needs, but especially their conversion or final perseverance.
December 26, St. Stephen’s Day: for my good friend Charles de Janson and all the deacons of God’s holy Church. For their final perseverance and total devotion to the service of God and the Church.

My Mass Intentions, December 1811, O.W. XIV n. 100

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  1. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    LJC et MI
    Dear Frank and the de Mazenodian family around the world.
    Blessings as we gather in One Heart and lift each other up in the “World Wide Web of Oraison. This is the spirit of Eugene live out in the now.
    Yesterday I saw a report of the Catholic community of Pakistan and thought of the Oblate Family there and the the many others who work and live together mindful of the Star that call them and all to live in peace and respect.
    Blessings and I will remember you all in this evenings Christmas Mass.
    Jack, OMI

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Although I continue to find Eugene’s language ornate and of his era, there is still that small quiet part of me that resonates with his spirit. One phrase in particular strikes me and begs me to contemplate and make it my own – “A holy freedom of Spirit in God’s service..”.

    For this and for all members of the Mazenodian Family will be my Christmas prayer this evening.

  3. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I find myself smiling in delight at the joy of Eugene and his incredibly big heart. His love for God and for all, evident even at this early stage in his life. Starting out a young priest at Christmas time – his Bethlehem in a way. In his personal prayers for himself it is still all about God and a “holy freedom of spirit in God’s service…”. It is all about God, and then his family and all who he loves – thats is what he seems to be about.

    As I was with yesterday’s posting (from a year ago) I am struck again today that Eugene is celebrating his vocation, his call from God which began before Eugene was in his mothers womb. It is a threshold moment, a foundational moment, a milestone, whatever and we can’t but celebrate with him on this. 200 years later and we are still celebrating with him.

    This speaks to me today, not only to the priests and brothers who are professed Oblates but to all us, in particular to all of us who are a part of this great Mazenodian Family. (With the canonization of Eugene in 1995, the charism then was shared with all in the church – us. A gift to us and a call for us to take our rightful place as sons and daughters of Eugene. I say that quite deliberately without the word ‘adopted’ in front of sons and daughters with hopes that none are offended.)

    Today is an invitation to rejoice in our own individual calls from God, to be and live out our lives as members of this family. To rejoice and be free with who we have been created to be. To realise how precious each of us is in the eyes of our God and to thank God endlessly for that.

    We as members of the Mazenodian Family will celebrate with Eugene tonight because he lives on, his spirit, in each of us. Tonight at Midnight Mass I will thank God for each of you, those I have met and those who I have not, for we are all so connected with each other. And I will ask God to continue to bless each of you and hold you close. As I sing Adeste Fideles and O Holy Night I will think of each of you, your faces will be in my heart and we will sing it together, no matter the time zone, no matter the country. A truly blessed and holy Christmas to you all.

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