Today we are celebrating an important event here in the church of Oblate School of Theology. One of our young Oblates, Juan Manuel Gaspar is making his oblation for life as a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate. At a joyful moment like this I always like to recall the words that Eugene wrote to Charles Baret on the occasion of his perpetual oblation. They apply not only to Juan, but to every member of the Mazenodian family today:

Today you are a child in the Congregation which justly glorifies itself in having the Most Holy Virgin Mary Immaculate as a mother. Now you are consecrated to God for life and beyond by your oblation; and I must add in all humility but with great consolation, that thereby I have become your father. I do not know you personally; but since the affection that unites me with my children is essentially supernatural, it is enough for me to know that the Savior Jesus Christ, our common Master, has received your vows, has adopted you and has marked you with the seal that makes us what we are, so that we are united in the most intimate bonds of charity and that I am bound to you forever as you are to me…
Goodbye. my dear son. In giving you my blessing for the first time. I embrace you with all my heart.

Letter to Charles Baret, 18 August 1843, O.W. X n. 811

Our Rule of Life describes the significance of the act of oblation for us today:

We are men “set apart for the Gospel” (Rom 1: 1), men ready to leave everything to be disciples of Jesus. The desire to co-operate with him draws us to know him more deeply, to identify with him, to let him live in us.

We strive to reproduce in ourselves the pattern of his life. Thus, we give ourselves to the Father in obedience even unto death and dedicate ourselves to God’s people in unselfish love. Our apostolic zeal is sustained by the unreserved gift we make of ourselves in our oblation, an offering constantly renewed by the challenges of our mission.

CC&RR, Constitution 2

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3: ” a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance …”.

    As I read Eugene’s letter to Charles I thought immediately of Eugene’s tender love, out there and in the forefront. And I thought of the celebration going on down there in San Antonio and the one which we will have next Saturday for David. It is and will be such a time of joy and community, and a real grace for all involved. So young Juan Manuel Gaspar, OMI (you don’t know us but thanks to Frank we now all know of you, and in a strange way we do know you) we celebrate you, we celebrate with you, and we thank God for your Oblation.

    The second part of this page taken from the Rule of Life hit me on more than one front, and it was not necessarily because of the “men of God” phrase, for if that were written today it might well say ‘men and women of God’. I read it and quite honestly felt that I too try to live like that.
    To be honest though, it did hit me a little that I will never be a part of a community in the way the men of the congregation (or men and women from other congregations) are – that is not where I have called to live. I experienced a moment of sadness that I do not know that kind of love and support, but if I might be allowed to say that almost immediately I felt consoled, my brief sorrow acknowledged and I felt I was being held and comforted.

    I thought about not writing that here because we are supposed to be celebrating but if I cannot be honest here then where can I be honest? The sorrow is gone for it was fleeting and the joy in both Juan and David dances in my heart. It shall be a week of celebration for all of the Oblate family, the Mazenodian family, for us all.

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    Thank you Frank for sharing this timely text and how it refers to and reflects the new reality in the de Mazenodian Family. We are note bound by nouns and verb as were the pharisees in this mornings Gospel text from Mark, but open and set free by a worship in Spirit and Truth (Jn 4). And so as structures change in time, the Truth of a Love that is not bound by time or space remains.

  3. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think this morning of my preparation for this past retreat “Vatican II in the Church and Oblate Life Today. I did nothing to prepare for it and tried hard not to think of the title – what if the changes I had seen in the Church before and since the Council were not real, not true? It is only at this moment now, this time and place that I can admit to how afraid I was in my heart that I was going to learn that nothing had changed.

    So I risked it and went. I heard God speak, through a man who was a part of the very hierarchy that I was struggling with. This man, so pastoral, so full of love, who has put on Christ (as Paul wrote of in Galatians) and who wears him well. I was a little surprised, for he did not seem to struggle with me or the other laypersons who were there and never were we made to feel simply tolerated or that we have been shoved down their (Oblates and the Church). It was like Charles Baret receiving this letter of love and welcome from Eugene. “Goodbye. my dear son. In giving you my blessing for the first time. I embrace you with all my heart.” This is how the church spoke to me on the retreat. The world opened up in those 5 days.

    This past week I have had the ocassion to share with another my views and thoughts on the charism of the Oblates, of St. Eugene de Mazenod. It was in the sharing that I realised that the charism was more than just one thing, that the spirit of Eugene involved and was lived as more than just the mission to the poorest of the poor, the most abandoned. It was the spirit in how it was lived – everything all tied into one little 7 letter word. Was this what I have been called to live, is this how I have been called to live? I have spent much time reading and reflecting, praying . I do none of it perfectly or in a manner pleasing to all. I am who I am and there has come a certain acceptance of this.

    There has been a growing intimacy this past week, with my Church, with my beloved Oblates. This past week I asked God why it is thus, why he would seem to ask of me what he is for it seems quite impossible, what is the point. His response was the same as that which I heard over 30 years ago; “…I love you, you are mine. I have called you by name, I have chosen you…”. As I write this there is the image of the cross, of Christ on the cross, calling me to join him, lifting me up that I might join him there. And although it is with the Church, with Eugene and the Oblates it is not limited to just them, it continues to grow ever outward and inward.

    For this moment right now it is enough. “In giving you my blessing for the first time. I embrace you with all my heart.”

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