The ministry which the Oblates do today in retreat houses and pilgrimage shrines has its origins in the earliest days of the Congregation. Our first house outside of Aix, Notre Dame du Laus, was a place of pilgrimage where the Missionaries accompanied people on retreats. Our second establishment outside of Aix was the Calvaire in Marseille, and here the ministry of giving retreats was also an integral part of its mission – as Eugene wanted every Oblate house to be.

In 1826, Eugene was considering moving the novitiate to this community in Marseille and was concerned that there would no longer be sufficient place to accommodate retreatants for a ministry that “does so much good.” This fruitful ministry continues today in many parts of the Oblate world.

I also will be sorry to renounce the hope of being able to give retreats in the house; they do so much good. I know that in France their benefits are unknown and confessors do not trouble themselves to recommend them; but even if we would only bring together half a dozen persons, perhaps the liking for them will catch on and God knows with what profit for souls!
But, if we are going to have novices in the house, what room will remain to lodge the retreatants? If we were sure this work would succeed, we would have to be able to buy the neighboring houses. These thoughts come to my mind as I go about the streets of Rome pursuing our affairs.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 5 March 1826, EO VII n 228


“Nowhere can persons find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in their own souls.”    Marcus Aurelius

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Sometimes it feels like we are fighting for our very breath. Events take place, not necessarily expected but there is not surprise. It is swift but painful nevertheless. Is God clipping my wings or simply allowing it to be done? I suppose in the long run it does not matter but walking rather than soaring – it is a bit like smoldering rather than burning brightly.

    Right now it would be good to have a retreat house to go to. Perhaps to hide out in, where it is safe, where I might feel the whisper of God’s love enveloping me, holding me. But then, I am on a journey through the desert and when I look around me there’s no place to hide. At the moment I am incapable of understanding, all that I can muster is to perhaps stand against a silent wind, and then step out, one foot in front of another.

    I am not sure that I would entirely agree with Marcus Aurelius. Sometimes the retreat in our own souls can be uncomfortable at best, and at times tortured. And yet until I can find some type of peace and acceptance within my very self nothing from outside of myself will suffice. The cross may be all good and holy, but it’s damned painful to be on.

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