When any new religious congregation comes into existence in the Church, it is necessary for the Church to study it so as to evaluate whether it is the human invention of a charismatic person or whether it comes from God.

I am convinced that in this reaction of the Pope we witness the moment when he understood that the Oblate congregation came to birth as a result of a divine inspiration. In this moment of prayer, the Pope realized that the act of the foundation of the Oblates had been a charism of the Holy Spirit.

You would have been touched, my dear friend, to see, while I spoke, how this holy Pontiff raised his eyes towards heaven, then joined his hands and bowed his head on them clasped together, glowing with gratitude and thanking God with all his heart. It seemed to me that this invocation alone would draw new graces on our ministry.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 22 December 1825, EO VI n 213

Three days later, the Pope was going to reiterate his conviction that this Society of Oblates came from God, and that he wanted it formally approved and not merely encouraged.


“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”    1 Corinthians 12:7

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am ashamed to admit that this is my second stab at a reflection this morning. When I first read it I found myself rebelling every which way from Sunday at Franks words of “…study it so as to evaluate it…”. Yesterday I was talking with a friend and the issue of women in the Church and how since the beginning of time they have been treated as objects, less-thans, etc, etc, and of course with the Church. I was reminded of Francis’ words about the Church needing to look at and learn more about the theology of women as if we were a newly discovered species. The most important part of all of this though was the almost automatic ‘reaction’ that I had to those words. I found that I did not want to stay there in that place. I was ashamed at how automatic my reaction was, and then how hard it was not to sit with and let it grow (fester really) – so soul destroying. I did not want this to become the start to my day. So I moved away from this place to daily things like getting dressed and eating breakfast. I caught the bus to come to where I was/am to meet a friends for an early morning walk. The whole time though thinking of the swiftness of my reaction to a couple of words. (On the way I received a text message that she cannot join me this morning – so here I am, back where I want to be, a little saddened but also determined now to drown myself in my own humanness.) I am sorrowed at my own weakness and the need to find fault with others. Sitting on the bus I had the opportunity to look at how I study and evaluate different people, events in my daily life, how I study and evaluate even myself – with the help of others who I trust. Discernment is the word that comes to me. It is not just a ‘meeting of the minds’, an agreement because we like the other person, or self. No there is prayer involved. There is the turning to God and trusting God to lead me in the direction he would have me go, be. There is trusting that God will speak with and through my friends. There is, once I let go of my own weaknesses and a damnable need to be distracted with small and unworthy pettiness, there is trust in my Church, in her wisdom, in her ultimately speaking in and with God (and the words the Body of Christ come to mind). This trust in her can only be a grace, a gift from God.

    Frank’s quote from 1 Corinthians “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” speaks to that trust in God. It seems that the “each” might very well refer to the Church as a whole as well as to individuals such as you and I. The Church has her little weaknesses (or big some might say), just as do all of us who are a part of her. The though occurs to me as if thinking of what Paul had to say (also in 1 Corinthians) when he spoke of the different parts of the body [as in body of Christ]. Perhaps this morning the church is the head, but I need to let go of my pettiness if I am to be a part of the heart.

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