OBLATION FOR LOVE OF THE CHURCH

The first couple of years of Eugene’s presence in Marseille as Vicar General were demanding because there was so much to be done to re-establish the diocese after the absence of a bishop on the spot for over 20 years.

Eugene’s lifestyle changed radically. His spirit of oblation meant that he dedicated himself totally to the service of the Church through the Diocese of Marseille and through the Missionary Oblates

The time for renewing jurisdictions overworks us unbelievably; we usually work until midnight with Father Tempier; it has happened to us to be kept at it separately until two o’clock in the morning. The budget of the Prefect, the business of the bishop’s house and of the seminary, the town councils that have to be attended, all these things come all at once and crush us.

Letter to Marius Suzanne,16 December 1823, EO VI n 122

Here he refers to some of the urgent preoccupations of getting the diocese running: the appointment of clergy to the parishes, persuading the city authorities to grant them money for the diocesan expenses of maintaining the parishes. The Revolution had taken over the bishop’s house and the seminary. The house had to be made livable again, and premises found for the seminary, as well as finding professors for the seminarians. Relations also had to be built with the various civic bodies in the city and in the surrounding towns.

“All these things come all at once and crush us,” but it was the spirit of oblation that made it possible to cope and to transform each of these necessary tasks into mission, no matter how mundane they may have been. Oblation made it possible to keep in mind that working to establish and strengthen the structures to promote evangelization was, in fact, mission

 

“Some people can live up to their loftiest ideals without ever going higher than a basement.”     Theodore Roosevelt

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One Response to OBLATION FOR LOVE OF THE CHURCH

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    God bless Eugene. It was like he had to put aside and turn over to others that which he most loved. He had been given such a gift from God and yet he was called to use that gift in a different fashion from what he wanted and loved to do. To be at the service of his Bishop, Fortuné, at the service of the Church which he loved, but surely this was not what he had envisaged. Certainly at the service of the people he loved so dearly, the poor of Aix and surrounding areas, but it would be lived out a little differently. At the service of the members of his society, of his congregation. He gave his all to God and this seems to be what was asked of him.

    I think of the many Oblates whom I have met over the years. So many of them would talk about how they had joined the Oblates to become a missionary, in a land far away or perhaps up in the far north. But that`s not what they ended up doing. They were teachers, formators, administrators, pastors in inner city parishes, writers…. They died a little [or a lot] to themselves, they let go of dreams. They served as they were called, not necessarily as they might have chosen, but which they lived never-the-less to the fullest that they could.

    I am thinking of the young father who wanted to pursue dreams, perhaps of travelling, or becoming an artist of some sort, but who takes a job that will allow him to provide for his family. I am thinking of the young mother who walks away from a dream of becoming a dancer, or a singer, or one of hundred different dreams so that she can nourish and care for her children. I imagine each of us can look at our lives and find something similar that we have had to let go of, where we have had to ‘die’ a little, because of love.

    “……it was the spirit of oblation that made it possible to cope and to transform each of these necessary tasks into mission, no matter how mundane they may have been. Oblation made it possible to keep in mind that working to establish and strengthen the structures to promote evangelization was, in fact, mission.” What a horrible word – mundane – I checked the definition and it said, common, ordinary, lacking excitement, colourless, of this world rather than heavenly or spiritual. Eugene seemed to turn that around somehow, as have so many of the Oblates I have known, as have so many people in the course of their lives. Oblation made it possible. It is his hitting me in a different way this morning, I am perhaps seeing it more clearly. It’s how we look at it. It is good to simply reflect and recognize how many have lived with that spirit of Oblation in their lives. It is a great thing.

    “….to keep in mind that working to establish and strengthen the structures to promote evangelization was, in fact, mission.” There is a small thank you on my breath for that, for it is something that I question in my life. Much easier to recognize in someone else and not my own life. Perhaps because it is in fact so much a part of the mundane, the ordinary, the hidden everyday life. One foot forward in front of the other. Part of my own Oblation today.

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