A few months earlier, Eugene had written to Henri Tempier: ”First companion of mine, you have from the first day we came together grasped the spirit which must animate us and which we must communicate to others” (Letter to Henri Tempier, 15 August 1822, O.W. VI n. 86)

Today the Church uses the New Testament word charism to refer to this God-given spirit conferred on someone for the good of its members and mission.

We can thus appreciate Eugene’s joy at seeing the young Missionaries who had understood this charism and were working wonders thru their ministry wherever they were. It was this God-given spirit that was the source of the success of their ministry, and which gave life to their efforts. He asks the seminarians in training to follow in the footsteps of their elder brothers by imitating that same spirit:

Oh! I have no doubt that you will follow the footsteps of your elder brothers – see the wonders that it has already pleased the Lord to work through their ministry!
This is because, young though they be, they are filled with the spirit that gives life to everything.
That is why we try to perpetuate it amongst us and it is through you, my dear friends, that this living and fruitful tradition will be transmitted to that other class of our Society, the novices, who follow along immediately after you. Continue to give them the example of all the virtues, of regularity, of fidelity to the Rules

Letter to André Sumien and the scholastics in Aix, 18 March 1823, EO VI n.96


“Join together in imitating me, brothers, and pay close attention to those who live by the example we have set for you.”      Saint Paul to the Philippians, 3:17

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The first time I read this I rebelled (a little bit) at the word imitate, telling myself that I don’t just imitate, I live [it]. Oh the ego! But then I was able to get a little bit honest and really start to look at my life. Of course I imitate, that’s how I learn, that’s how we all learn. As children we imitate our parents, whether it be in walking behind our father and ‘cutting the grass’ as he did, or cooking with our mothers, imitating the stirring and mixing of foods. We imitate. We imitate our older siblings, we imitate our idols and pop stars in how they dress and how they move, what they do and say. Eventually all this imitation comes together and we begin to find who we truly are. We imitate until it becomes a part of us. We make it our own and we follow and respond to the individual call and live it out, each in our own way.

    The charism given to us by Saint Eugene and the way of living it out doesn’t just happen like magic, or at least it didn’t in my case. I was (and still am) drawn to this particular way of life, and there is a certain amount of imitating that has taken place, following the example set and then (hopefully) living that out in a particular way. No ‘re-inventing’ of the wheel here, just following. Make no mistake though, it is not just a matter of copying, of aping. No little “mini St. Eugene(s)”. I began with imitating the spirit, then following and eventually walking with.

    Frank writes; “we can thus appreciate Eugene’s joy at seeing the young Missionaries who had understood this charism…” I am thinking of the day that David MacPhee made his perpetual vows as a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate – a young missionary who understood this charism. I am thinking of Lucy who joyously made her commitment as an Oblate Associate, a young woman who understood this charism and how she could live it out. I am thinking of the Pams, the Chris’s and the Kens who are a part of this Mazenodian family, who feel called to live in a very specific way, attracted and inspired by this charism, this gift of the spirit.

    It is this gift, this God-given spirit that gives us life. It is in imitating and responding to this charism that we begin to become fully alive.

  2. Denyse Mostert says:

    Juste pour te dire, Eleanor, que je lis tes commentaires avec beaucoup d’intérêt. Merci à toi.

  3. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    As I read this text and then your thoughts Eleanor, I just sit back and glow. YES.
    Because I see how those in scholastic formation and those recently ordained have been present to the novices and in there joy, energy and exuberance say; join us in this life and mission.
    Even the “trailblazers and pilgrims” didn’t do it alone. Even Jesus had John the Baptist!

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