Eugene constantly fine-tuned the focus of the ministry of the Oblates to ensure that it was in keeping with the founding inspiration he had received from God.

Our Missionaries are to be employed principally, but not exclusively, in the missions. Thus, they could sometimes be working, as though in a sort of retreat, in parishes where the parish priest is absent.

Letter to Bishop Arbaud of Gap, 10 March 1828, EO XIII n 64

At this stage Eugene was clear that the Oblate vocation was not to parish ministry as pastors. We were evangelizers of the most abandoned as mission preachers. When helping in a parish it was meant to be of a temporary nature and had as its purpose a focused time of renewal or retreat with the parish community. Direct parish ministry was only to come many years later within the context of the foreign missions.

Today, in our use of time, talents and resources to help others, how focused are we on why we are doing it, and guided by which motivation? It is the question that Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser poses as he reflects on the motivation behind his teaching ministry:

“Was my teaching really about furthering God’s kingdom or about stoking my ego? I am not alone with these questions. These are valid questions for anyone who draws energy from his or her work, especially if, because of that work, he or she drinks in a fair amount of adulation. Our motivations are never completely pure.  Indeed, if we are fully honest with ourselves, we have to admit that there is always some degree of self-serving in our service of others. But, mixed as our motives will always be, something else, something much more positive, needs to be factored into this, namely, the fact that God gave us our various talents and that God feels good about us using them.”   Ron Rolheiser

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Late again, rushing for the bus, but still in a good space to be here. My morning began with the hymn which we usually sing on Holy Thursday, “Do you know what I have done for you…” Just that very first line, over and over again. And yet it fits here this morning.

    I believe we all do things for more than just pure goodness. I do what I do in part because it makes me feel good, like I am worthy and loved and, and… I sometimes do it in part to try to ‘earn’ God’s love and mercy – even though I know that I already have that, and that I can never earn such tender mercy. My humanity squeaks through all of the time and I am finally beginning to accept that. But there are other reasons, even to coming here to this place. I feel like I have been invited, and that I am compelled, led, shepherded to share in what I have, to love and serve as I do. It is something that comes from outside of myself and is quite beyond and bigger than the little me.

    In truth I am barely able to formulate a decent sentence on my own, and this morning in particular I struggle to capture what I am experiencing. I can only repeat what Ron said; “God gave us our various talents and that God feels good about us using them.” I believe that God takes delight in each of us and how we use what has been given to us. Much as we do with those we love who live out the gifts they have been given – no matter the reason why they start or do what they do. God started it all and we simply learn and copy.

    “Do you know what I have done for you…”

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