The 1818 Rule had underlined the importance of doing something to remedy the havoc caused to priests by the French Revolution.

Art. 2. In the beginning, the missionaries because of their youth, will only be able to undertake indirectly the healing of this deep wound by their gentle suggestions, their prayers and good examples…
Art. 3. Consequently, they will preach retreats to priests and the [houses of the Missionaries] will always be a welcoming refuge for them…

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3.
Missions, 78 (1951) p.14-15

(cf entry above of March 7, 2012 and also a reflection and the full text, with its strong language, which can be found in the entries of June 9 – 14, 2010)

The first community at ND du Laus took this seriously and out it into practice:

Seven priests and a cleric had come… Our politeness towards them, — a politeness mixed with a lot of reserve (and without) the least familiarity —, the good attitude of our little community, the sound of the bell which summons us to our exercises, our long thanksgivings and Benedicite, the reading of Holy Scripture and of some edifying lives that we do during the greater part of the meal, all that is infinitely pleasing to those who have not yet lost all sense of piety and who still have some idea of their state in life and reduce to silence those who have forgotten what it means to be a priest.
Generally, they respect us and see us as priests different from them.

Letter from Henri Tempier to Eugene de Mazenod, 5 July 1819,
Oblate Writings II.2, n. 15


“A smile is the universal welcome.”     Max Eastman

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Since coming back into the Church 30 years ago there have been countless (truly countless) times when I have gone to a priest for counsel, for refuge, for explanations, for the opportunity to just sit and be and try to figure out where I am going or to give voice to what has been happening within my heart. I have gone to them to share my joys and my sorrows, and gone for spiritual direction. I’ve also been blessed in being able to go to retreat houses. In short there has never been a time when I was able to look around me and not find a place and a person to go and be with. Where then is there a place for our priests and religious to go when they are in need – for many of them do not live in community.

    It seems to me that refuge and hospitality has always been a part of the Oblate life. The Oblates seem always to have been open to that, be it with the “black” Cardinals, with priests who were ‘lost’ and without support and community, to the present day where their doors are open to many who have been ‘lost’ one way or another, whether it be members of their own community or those who are not members of any religious community. I think of the the parable of the Prodical Son, who was welcomed – incredibly so. Although Henri Tempier did not speak of throwing a party, he did talk of being open to those priests who may or may not have gotten lost or side-tracked on their journey. It was it seems to me a openness that allowed God to work as God must in their hearts and beings. I think my question to ponder today shall be: How might I live that out today in my life?

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