Beginning in 1812, I had introduced to this seminary… the zealous association which I had known in the seminary in Paris.

Diary of 20 August 1838, E.O. XIX

Pielorz describes this Association in Saint Sulpice, quoting from its rules:

This secret association, similar to the Aa of the Jesuits, made up of five – eight at the maximum – members had as its goal “to train up in the seminary a very pious corps of ecclesiastics who were perfect observers of the rule and who through their example, their advice and their prayers provide support for the maintenance of intense fervour in the community.” It organized the most fervent among the seminarians… To capture all hearts and draw them to the love of Christ, the associates set as their goal to communicate to others by a piety that was “relaxed, open, from the heart, serene, constant, loving, filled with holy joy, kind, charitable, patient, gentle, which accommodates to everything, bends to suit each one and lends support to everyone.”

PIELORZ, The Spiritual Life of Bishop de Mazenod, 1782-1812, Selected Oblate Studies and Texts, Vol. II, Rome, 1998, , p. 305.

This quality of being close to people so as to slowly but surely influence them and journey with them to deepen their relationship with God, was to become the model used by Eugene when he worked with groups. A year after having left the seminary, he had used this principle in establishing the congregation of youth in Aix. Not only were the youth to work for their own personal growth and salvation, but through the quality of their lives they were to be like yeast in the “dough” of the world so as to be a source of transformation and growth for others:

Art. 3. The congregationists, whose state of life ensures that they live fully in the world, will seek to behave in such a way as to edify all those with whom they have family ties and others with whom they have contact.

Statuts, Chapitre XII §1

The Oblate vocation was also that of being yeast in the dough of the world so as to be instruments of Gospel transformation. Two hundred years ago when Eugene was approaching people to join his group of Missionaries, he had written to one:

Ah! if we could form a nucleus, there would soon cluster round it the most zealous elements in the diocese.
Think a while about that before the good God. You know that we must have, in order to do any good in our regions, people of the country who know the language. Oh! do not doubt that we will become saints in our Congregation,…

Letter to Hilaire Aubert, 1815, O.W. VI n 3


“Transformation in the world happens when people are healed and start investing in other people.”   Michael W. Smith

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Yesterday after Mass someone that I know attacked the Church, the hierarchy of the Church and I guess that included within that hierarchy were all priests and bishops. When we talked it seemed to my friend that if one member of the hierarchy was toxic then all were. The anger (arising from hurt) was virulent and toxic and at first I found myself wanting to almost ‘hit’ back and shout ‘no you are wrong’. Then I found myself becoming saddened for there was no reasoning at point and it would seem that the only thing to do was just sit there and absorb it, asking God to take it because I sure didn’t know what to do with it. How would I, just by being myself – with maybe a few words – become an instrument of love for another. I figured the only thing I could do was and would be to love her and let God worry about the healing part because it was not something that I could ‘fix’.

    This morning I have sat here reflecting on what I have received from walking with the Oblates, by coming into relationship with them. How they have in so many ways been the yeast in the dough of my world; bringing to me so much just as did that secret organization at the Sulpice seminary. It has been them, it has been Eugene and his spirit that have been the models of yeast in so many ways of my journey of transformation. It is that model that I learn from, that I move out from and somehow become a model yeast in the ongoing transformation of my heart and those around me. Yesterday I was not the perfect model at all, but it is a beginning.

  2. Salima says:

    God blesses each of us with esndels capacities to love and although it makes no sense it sometimes seems to me it is only in letting go of that love that it flourishes . Eugene’s giving his all to God did not lessen who he loved, but rather allowed for him to love even more greatly. I think of the young people who leave their respective families to start a life together and how that grows (to include their own children, their in-laws, their new friends, etc). The love they have for their parents and siblings has not lessened but the focus has changed and widened and their own children will come first and it will grow outwards. They have had to let go in a way, to separate themselves from their parents in order to love and start their own family whatever that might look like.The thought comes to me this morning that if I spend all of my time worrying on who loves who the most, or how well they love then that is all that I will do. I can acknowledge it but then I need to let it go (without judgement) else I throw away my own ability to love.

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