The young Missionary students who were preparing for the priesthood at Laus had fully understood the meaning of the spirit of oblation. They wanted their self-giving to God for mission to be as generous as possible. They had already expressed their oblation thru the vows of chastity, obedience and perseverance. As a result of their annual retreat of 1820, they had been inspired to write to Eugene to ask his permission to make the vow of poverty as well. They wanted to seal their spirit of self-giving by a solemn commitment.

Eugene, overjoyed that they had understood the spirit of oblation in such a radical way, replied:

It was impossible for me, my dear friends and beloved sons in Jesus Christ, not to shed tears of consolation on reading and rereading your touching and very edifying letters. I only wish that the work of this mission, which gives me no respite, would leave me time to write to each of you to prove particularly the sentiments inspired in me by your piety and your tender attachment. I thank the good God for all that he has inspired in you during this memorable retreat…
The more you are holy, the greater will be my happiness.
Ah! I would say it already overflows if I could witness the marvels that the good God works in your midst, if it were given to me to press you to my heart. It takes nothing less than the emphatic will of God to keep me where I am; my spirit is at Laus, it follows you, accompanies you.

Letter to the students and novices at Notre Dame du Laus, 29 November 1820,
O.W. VI n. 56

Today we continue to express this same ideal:

Our choice of poverty compels us to enter into a closer communion with Jesus and with the poor, to contest the excesses of power and wealth and to proclaim the coming of a new world freed from selfishness and open to sharing.

CC&RR, Constitution 20


“I thank fate for having made me born poor. Poverty taught me the true value of the gifts useful to life.”    Anatole France

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Another of these postings that offers so very much to reflect upon. At first reading I shared in the joy of Eugene as those he loved chose poverty to be one of their vows. Aside from the young men choosing to follow a way that worked perfectly for Eugene (we seem always to be happy to have others choose the way that we have chosen to live in love) there was in Eugene a joy that only comes from true love and seeing others share in the most profound love of all. I keep thinking of David, who in another week will make his Perpetual Vows. I am full of excitement and happiness for him. I am full of joy for both David and the Oblates. It will be a wonderful celebration of life and love and gratitude.

    I am also thinking of the freedom that comes with David’s vows, the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and perseverence. But most particularly poverty in the focus of today’s writing. Taking this vow of poverty is not saying that someone will necessarily give away all of their possessions and become a beggar – that is for a few, but it is not the norm. But it does seem to allow that extra freedom. In community it seems it can mean sharing all that you have with the others and trying to live with what is “enough”. Or perhaps it can mean recognizing your own poverty, in yourself and in those around you, it might be reflected back to you. I know that when I allow myself to acknowledge and face my own poverty it allows room for me to see anothers. And that is when my heart “seems to swell”, to be filled with a love that is more than I on my own am capable of experiencing. Interesting – to find joy in the love and lifes of other is so very much better and fuller than if it is all “I”.

    Perhaps a good prayer for me today as I go about all the little everyday things (like shopping and sending out emails to those that I promised, preparing for upcoming workshops and the many other small ways of serving that become small acts of love), perhaps today I can ask God that I might let go of all the stuff that really does not matter so that I will be open and available to recognizing and acknowledging God in the others I meet and am with.

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    I am touched that is the “young Missionary student” who write this to Eugene. The “Fathers” were caught up being diocesan priest belonging to a Society. This has been the struggle within our community for years. And every once in a while moments happen with in our lives that calls us beyond. I believe this past Chapter is one such moment. Former General Steckling in his report writes, “As a consequence of this Chapter, our conversion must bring about a new quality of our common life.” As with the brothers in N. D. Laus, the younger Oblates are calling us to a new quality of common life.

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