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