Continuing his retreat reflections, Eugene evaluated how he divided his energy in his dealings with others:

In my relations with others who are not part of the community.
They must always be subordinate to the obligations I have to fulfill as head of the house of the Mission and as the one responsible for the youth.
I am primarily the servant of my brothers, and of my sons’, then everyone else’s.

Retreat notes, May 1818, O.W. XV, n. 145

In a particular way, he had to dedicate a lot of quality time to the formation of the prospective members of the Missionaries. Jacques Jeancard, who had been formed by Eugene, reminisced (in a somewhat hagiographical 19th century style):

The Society still existed in an emerging form, … a mustard seed that was to become a tree whose branches have spread much further than we imagined at the time.
While following the holy inspiration that that he had received to seek everywhere priests willing to sacrifice everything for God and to unite themselves in a congregation to work with him for the sanctification of souls in the work of missions, M. de Mazenod had dreamed at the same time of forming around himself a type of school of apostles. This would continue the generous project and would be the element through which it it would develop. The young people I mentioned above were the first pupils of this holy school. They were especially cared for by M. de Mazenod himself, who became their spiritual director and novice master. He was concerned for their education all the time: during recreation during their walks (when he had the time to accompany them), in his room, in the meeting room, in the chapel, and finally in all circumstances he tried to animate them with the spirit of God.
Thus we can say that the air of the house was permeated with this spirit; we constantly breathed it, and we breathed no other. We lived in an atmosphere that was totally apostolic. It must be said that all the priests of the community still maintain it.

Melanges historiques sur la Congregation des Oblats de Marie Immaculee
(Tours, 1872), pp. 26 and 27.


What did Our Lord Jesus Christ do? He chose a certain number of apostles and disciples whom He formed in piety and filled with His spirit; and after having trained them in his school and the practice of all virtues, He sent them forth to conquer the world which they soon brought under the rule of his holy laws.

1818 Rule

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  1. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    As I read and re-read this reflection the image of breathing comes forth.
    Being a yoga instructor, having lived community at OMI Ashram/Aanmodhaya in the Province of India, breath and the conscience breath is transformative. So as we take in (mindful of the breath you take in this moment) the charsim of the Founder and the gifts of each other we are ever so carefully woven into the the Apostolic Community that 1818 Rule/Preface speaks of.
    Simply return to your breath and be one with the Spirit that dwell in the “cave of your heart.”

  2. John Mouck says:

    Once again I find myself wrestling with the idea that Eugene was saintly.
    This post from his writings just re-affirms my notion of a great many priests. I have learned from personal experience and observation that too many priests look after, respect, and have all the time in the world for their brother priests and those they consider to be in their inner circle but to the “common” people they display, “In my relations with others who are not part of the community. They must always be subordinate ….”
    Eugene was right of course, Jesus did choose a certain number of apostles and disciples whom He formed and trained to send out into the world, but He never took them off privately and made them think they were somehow special and a cut above all others. Rather He taught them by example, by the way He educated, cared for, served, and loved EVERY sacred soul. “Follow me” was His only rule.
    I think Eugene would have done better to reverse his priority in that final statement,
    “I am primarily the servant of my brothers, and of my sons’, then everyone else’s.”

  3. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    My being responded to the title of this posting – I am primarily the servant of my brothers. It sounds so close to how I try to live out God’s call to me. I can remember years ago when I worked for the government, being at a workshop and the facilitator asked me who my clients were, whom did I serve. I answered that everybody was – the words seemed to slip out almost flippantly. I was surprised when he said yes – that’s exactly right.

    Eugene’s primary purpose was to found and lead his brothers and sons, his family, his community, his congregation in a particular manner, with a very specific purpose. And from that starting point, that base, he moved out first to the peoples around him, the members of his society, then the peoples in Marseille, and then further afield to other parts of France, to Canada, to Ceylon and the rest of the world. He had been given a “spirit” to live out, and it was quite specific in a manner of speaking as to how he would live it out. It was a growing thing and some did not get “less” than others.

    I look at Jesus who did much the same thing. For he was a Jew and it was to his own people that he came. He brought his message, the Good News, a new covenant of love his Jewish family, his community and then it was spread out from that point, it was an ever widening circle. He had a “base” that he founded with his disciples that grew until there were many. It was not a confining or exclusive thing, and it was not “limited to”. He lived and walked and was a part of humanity and so operated from within that kind of a framework. And I think that from time-to-time Jesus did withdraw and take his disciples with him for they too needed to learn about prayer, and quiet time and to be nourished and renewed.

    I think of a friend of mine, an Oblate priest who died recently. At one point before his death he spoke to me of never having done any great things, he did what he did, he lived as an Oblate, taught, shared his knowledge. “I never did anything that great” he told me. Perhaps thinking he would never make the headlines, and his name would not go down in history as “one of the greats”. I think of all the people he touched and loved – he did this in his being first of all an Oblate of Mary Immaculate – his base, his family and he loved. He loved and touched so many people in ways he could not have imagined. It was his being an Oblate that I believe allowed him to love and give to so many over the years.

    It is in answering God’s call, and living out that response in a very specific way that we become fully alive, that we love with ever growing hearts.

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