To accompany the papal letter of approbation, Eugene wrote a letter to the whole Oblate Congregation to spell out the meaning of this for us. Its importance is highlighted by the fact that he wrote it in Latin, signifying that it was not just an ordinary communication but a formal document. Today, as we prepare to celebrate our 200 years of existence, its importance continues. In it Eugene picks up the ideas that he had already written about informally regarding the approbation and its meaning in our daily lives.
To the Reverend Fathers and very dear Oblate Brothers of the Congregation of the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, greetings in Christ Jesus.
Rejoice with me and congratulate yourselves, my beloved, for it has pleased the Lord to grant us great favours; Our Holy Father the Pope, Leo XII, gloriously reigning from the chair of St. Peter, has sanctioned with his apostolic approbation, on March 21 of this current year, our Institute, our Constitutions and our Rules.
See then our little flock, to whom the Father of the family has kindly wished to open wide the field of the holy Church, given a place in the hierarchic order, associated with the venerable Congregations which have spread throughout the Church so many great benefits and enlightened the entire world with so bright a light;
At this stage the entire Oblate Congregation consisted of 22 professed members – and they were raised to the same status in the Church as all the other illustrious groups of religious congregations! We can appreciate the joy of Eugene while, at the same time, appreciating his realization of the responsibility given to us to live by this overwhelming tradition.
see her, right from her birth, enriched with the same privileges of those illustrious Societies, in the footsteps of which, with all her strength and all her means, she will certainly strive to walk steadily forward.
Letter to all the Oblates, 25 March 1826, EO VII n 232
As we look back, 200 years later, we see how these words, called to “enlightened the entire world with so bright a light” have been fulfilled in the life and achievements of our missionary Congregation. Today we cannot listen to the current news about some of the world’s trouble-spots without thinking of the Oblate presence there: Ukraine, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Mexican-USA border, to name just a few. Indeed, we can proclaim with Eugene “Rejoice with me and congratulate yourselves, my beloved, for it has pleased the Lord to grant us great favours!”
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” Melody Beattie