Can I forget the bitter tears that the sight of the Cross brought streaming from my eyes one Good Friday?
Tears of sorrow because:
I had looked for happiness outside of God and for too long with resulting unhappiness.
Tears that changed into expressions of peace and joy as he realized how much God loved him:
Blessed, a thousand times blessed, that he, this good Father, notwithstanding my unworthiness, lavished on me all the richness of his mercy.
Retreat Journal, December 1814, O.W. XV n.130
With that experience of God’s love for him on the Cross, Eugene’s life was transformed. The symbol of the Cross became the vehicle of the invitation of Jesus Christ to give “all for God” and to invite others to that same love. The Cross was the invitation to oblation and the sign of oblation.
Consequently, the only distinctive sign possible for the Missionary was the Cross:
Their only distinctive mark will be the crucifix, which is proper to their ministry. They will always wear on their chest, inserted in the cincture and it hanging from a cord to which it is attached.
1818 Rule, Part Two, Chapter One. Regarding other principal observances
Today, “our only distinctive sign is the Oblate cross” (C64) because it was the only distinctive sign possible for Eugene:
The Oblate cross which is received at perpetual profession is a constant reminder of the love of the Saviour who wishes to draw all hearts to himself and sends us out as his co-workers.
CC&RR, Constitution 63
It is beautiful to see that as people feel called to share in Eugene’s vision and mission as laity, as religious or as priests – it is the Oblate Cross that becomes the uniting and transforming symbol of their quest.
“Bear the Cross cheerfully and it will bear you.” Thomas Kempis