During his retreat Eugene recalls that community was one of the non-negotiable constitutive elements of the Oblate vocation and way of life. He was living in community with Henri Tempier in Marseille, but the point of reference was always the established larger local community. Until that was established in Marseille, the primary community was that of Aix. Eugene thus tried to live in communion with that group.

I belong above all and principally to this family for which the Lord has given me so much love and which is for me constantly and so justly an object of admiration…
I will therefore always live in spirit in the most intimate union with them, and while waiting for the possibility of setting up in Marseilles a regular house which may assure us some part of the advantages that are found in abundance in our dear house in Aix, so far as I can I will observe the Rule on my own, conforming so far as possible to the very times of the exercises.

Retreat notes, May 1824, EO XV n. 156

Today this is echoed in our Rule of Life:

C. 37 We fulfil our mission in and through the community to which we belong.

C. 38 Obedience and charity bind us together, priests and Brothers, keeping us interdependent in our lives, and missionary activity, even when, dispersed for the sake of the Gospel, we can benefit only occasionally from life in common.
Each community, whether a house or a district, will adopt a program of life and prayer best suited to its purpose and apostolate.

Constitutions and Rules

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It resonates deeply “We fulfil our mission in and through the community to which we belong. ” I am struck this morning on how this is very much an extension, the next paragraph in the conversation begun with Anda. It has also allowed me to reflect for a little bit on the sheer wonder of being a part of the Body of Christ. I must admit that for many many years I kept hearing about how we, how I, was a part of the Body of Christ but had absolutely no idea of what that meant or could mean. Even today I cannot explain the why or the how of it, but I know that it is. That being a part of, belonging to, connected with, it all goes back to that in a way. Sometimes when I hurt myself, or when I have a pain somewhere, a headache, whatever, the rest of my body aches also. When I get a cold or the flu, an infection of some kind my whole body suffers and is weakened. So it is when another person who is a member of my family, my community, this Body of Christ leaves, struggles, hurts -then the rest of the body, the extended Body of Christ hurts, struggles, suffers.

    Again I am thinking of that powerful image with Christ at the centre with the heart of fire and the lines of fire, touching, flowing back and forth and around not just flat on one level but multi dimensional with depth and breadth, living. It is the connectedness and how that is lived out that is life-giving. I have said that it is with the Oblates, with the Oblate Associates that I continue to become more alive than ever before in my life. Yesterday the question was asked of me; “what is it that fans the flame, the fire in your life?” There can be many quick answers to that question – God, grace, the Holy Spirit. But this morning after a little reflection I would have to say community – from them/you I receive support, strength, inspiration, renewal. It is most definitely an I/We thing, the both together, without one there is no other in a way. To retain one there must be the other.

    I was recently at a retreat where knew less than a handful of people to start with. But by the end having connected with most of them somehow – wow. The retreat was so incredibly good and what I needed. The people – each of them was a “wow” in my life – another part of the community to which I belong and which is every growing. Some greater than others but no one less than anyone else. Like a river moving along with currents, eddies and rapids, the flow different in places. Made up of individual drops of water but somehow held together to form a life-giving flow that as it grows has a force and strength that can change the course of life around it, life that which it flows through. Community. I dare to repeat what is so simply and eloquently written in the Constitution and Rules: “We fulfil our mission in and through the community to which we belong.”

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