Responding to the good news of the papal approbation, Eugene reflected with all the Oblates in France on the significance of this event.

The conclusion to be drawn from this, my dear friends and good brothers, is: we must work, with renewed ardor and still more total devotedness, to bring to God all the glory that stems from our efforts and, to the needy souls of our neighbors, salvation in all possible ways; we must attach ourselves heart and soul to our Rules and practice more exactly what they prescribe to us.

Having our Constitutions and Rules approved by the Church gave them a totally new understanding and importance for the Oblates.

To do this well, would mean remaking our novitiate so as to meditate at leisure on all they contain. 
They are not a bagatelle [ed. a trivial unimportant thing],
they are no longer simple regulations, merely pious directions; 
they are Rules approved by the Church after most minute examination. 
They have been judged holy and eminently suited to lead those who have embraced them to their goal. 
They have become the property of the Church that has adopted them. 
The Pope, by approving them, has become their guarantor.  

Letter to Henri Tempier and all the Oblates, 18 February 1826, EO VII n 226

From this moment the Oblate Rule belongs to the Church and not to us. Until today we do not have the power to change the Rule. Any changes we wish to make have to be approved and come through the Vatican – because our charism is recognized as coming from God and the Pope is our guarantor. Today, because of this, we are urged:

“Each Oblate through his oblation assumes responsibility for the common heritage of the Congregation, expressed in the Constitutions and Rules and our family tradition. He is exhorted to let himself be guided by these norms in creative fidelity to the legacy bequeathed by St. Eugene de Mazenod.”         CC&RR, Constitution 168

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    For the good of something much greater than myself. There has been a ceding over to something much greater than Eugene himself, greater than the group of men who are to be called the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It all started with God, and a gift given to Eugene, a call shared with others and now given to the Church itself. Oblatio. First they gave their way of living, their rules to the Church and later it would be Eugene’s spirit, his charism that would become, so to speak, the property of the Church, of all of us who follow and are a part of her. There is in all of this such great measures of love, trust, faithfulness, humility. The stakes are incredibly high, the risks – daunting. Not something you’d want to try on just to look good or holy. As Eugene said not some piece of bagatelle or pious directions. The recognition of that….

    Those very Rules which also speak to and of me: “The charism of Saint Eugene de Mazenod is a gift of the Spirit to the Church, and it radiates throughout the world. Lay people recognize that they are called to share in the charism according to their state of life and live it in ways that vary according to milieu and cultures.” R37a It goes on to speak of Oblate Association. Oblatio – not just for a select group of persons, but through the Church for the world.

    We are now in Lent. We have entered into and begun our journey in the desert. A period of emptying and letting go, of standing naked before God in our smallness and humanness. Waiting to be picked-up, waiting to be touched. Again oblation.

    This all seems to be strangely apt somehow, the pieces chosen by Frank and where we are liturgically or maybe it’s just how my mind works. I find myself almost surprised at how it all seems to tie in together, at what it might mean for me as an Oblate Associate and at the church and how (in spite of the struggles) much an integral part of my life she is. There is with even these thoughts a deep and beautiful joy.

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