CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE IN THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION

In making preparations for the Aubagne mission, Eugene touches on the heart of the mission, which is the personal God-encounter of each individual in the sacrament of reconciliation. The Pastor of Aubagne had been a former member of the Lazarist religious congregation, and so Eugene is able to tell him that the Missionaries followed the system of Saint Vincent de Paul for confessions. This meant being available for as many hours as necessary and to take all the time needed by every person coming to the sacrament.

I would like to know the exact number of the population of your parish so I can determine the number of Missionaries. Since we follow the confessional method of your holy patriarch, Saint Vincent de Paul, that is, hearing confessions without intermission, we don’t go very fast.

Letter to Father Figon, Pastor of Aubagne, 5 October 1822, EO XIII n. 42

 We have seen in previous entries above [cf. 24 February – 7 March 2011] what a privileged place was given in each parish mission to the individual sacramental encounter of each person. It was yet another important way in which the Missionaries expressed their closeness to the people: to treat each one in the confessional as the most important person at that moment and to give that person their full ministerial attention for as long as was needed.

 

“The regeneration of society is the regeneration of society by individual education.”    Jean de la Bruyere

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3 Responses to CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE IN THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    While in Aix and Marseille I visited some of the churches that Eugene and the early Oblates preached in and where they heard the confessions. I took note of the many confessionals in some of the churches and the size of them. They were small, cramped, dark places, for both the penitants and for the confessors and I found it hard to imagine anyone spending much time in there, let alone hours. Remembering some of the entries from last year I “tried one of them on” and they were not places that I would want to spend much time in, whether on my knees or sitting and it was hard for me to try and put myself “in their shoes”.

    “…to treat each one in the confessional as the most important person at that moment and to give that person their full ministerial attention for as long as was needed.” Is it any wonder that they were so successful, that so many were touched. They did not limit themselves to 15 minutes each per person, but rather they opened themselves to whatever was needed. And this was intentional. With Eugene getting an idea of the numbers that would be coming he and the others knew what it would take. Such incredible, “intentional” love and service.

    Am thinking they worked in God’s time rather than expecting God to work in theirs. Let me try to be more aware and to truly give myself to others in their time, their space, whatever their needs be. Let it be real and lived. Let it be my all, let it be God and not me.

  2. Ken Thorson omi says:

    “…we don’t go very fast.” I love this line from St Eugene’s letter to Fr Figon in reference to the style of the Oblates regarding confession. For me it’s a succinct reminder (a mantra perhaps) of how we who are trying to live this charism are called to minister: less concerned with time and the next appointment or meeting, and more attuned to the one sitting before me and their particular need.

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