For five years “St Eugene Speaks” has been working through the letters of Saint Eugene de Mazenod in a chronological manner. As we prepare for the bicentenary of our foundation, I have been asking myself how best to focus these daily reflections to help us to benefit from the anniversary in a deeper and more transforming way.

I am tired of hearing people expounding that there is no such thing as an “Oblate/Mazenodian Spirituality.” I totally disagree with this statement, and would like to take time to reflect on our spirituality as it has been expressed and lived in 200 years of our existence as Oblates.

What do we mean by “spirituality?” It is a fashionable concept these days, and there seem to be as many definitions as there are persons who talk about it in all sorts of contexts. Spirituality is all about how our understanding and experience of God is the foundation and guiding principle of our daily lives. It is the “spirit” that gives meaning to our lives.

Eugene was conscious of this “spirit” in his personal life and in the life of the Oblates at all times. Writing to his closest collaborator he explained:

First companion of mine, you have from the first day we came together grasped the spirit which must animate us and which we must communicate to others

Letter to Henri Tempier, 15 August 1822, EO VI n 86

As we journey with Eugene, let us take some time today to reflect on the question, “What is the spirit that animates me?” What holds everything together in my life?


“Spirituality has to do with our experiencing of God and with the transformation of our consciousness and our lives as outcomes of that experience…”   Richard McBrien


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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Some mornings I awaken feeling strong and sure and then on other days I don’t feel so much weak and unsure as I do distracted. Perhaps this morning I am feeling the latter, a little distracted. Or more honestly I must admit that added to that distraction (inability to concentrate as I would like) is a feeling of panic as I read Franks questions of “What is the spirit that animates me? What holds everything together in my life?”

    The “what ifs” want to give life to themselves while at the same time there is a temptation to quickly and glibly respond with an affirmative of ‘yes I’m fine’ without really delving into the question and looking at where I have come from and where I am. These are neither difficult or easy questions to respond to, but rather ones that require some searching and reflection, and not just a little trust. Trust in God, trust in myself, trust in my community.

    There is too a trust in St. Eugene. A sudden thought about Eugene and his spirit. I am reminded of the parable of the sower and the seeds. Eugene shares his spirit with all, but we must also each of us make the decision to accept his invitation and to say yes to living and sharing that very spirit. I somehow don’t think it will just magically happen. And as we live it we discover more about it and it deepens within our hearts. We each then join our own spirituality to that of Eugene’s and the result is the Oblate family. What an incredible gift of life!

    I will want to spend some more time with these questions. Perhaps at the foot of the cross, seeing through the eyes of our crucified Saviour.

    Thank you Frank – this is going to be a great journey.

  2. Patrick M McGee, OMI says:

    Thanks, Frank, and thanks, Eleanor! I, too, get frustrated and distracted by the nay-Sayers! I look.forward to this adventure: press on!

  3. Patrick M McGee, OMI says:

    Oh yes, I forgot to say, I really like the “header” for the reflection – the cross, the quote from .4, and “200 years of Mazenodian spirituality” – that’s perfect!

    • franksantucci says:

      Thanks to you both (and others who have emailed me) for the encouragement. Let’s see where the adventure leads us…

  4. Irma Noyola says:

    When I think of St.Eugene’s spirituality, I immediately think of great zeal for salvation of souls. How do you encapsulate that Oblate/Mazedonian Spirituality in our everyday lives? That’s a good question! You have to know and become friends with St. Eugene himself. I think of what struggles he had and relay them to myself…he seemed to adapt himself to the people around him, not to change them, but to know their culture, their ways, to know their spirit and eventually to know their pain and struggles but mainly to love the soul that God created them to be and to remind them of God’s love. How many times have I reminded friends that God’s mercy triumphs over judgement, to trust and yet I oftentimes fail to do that myself?
    St. Eugene and his brothers also struggled with overworking and had to remind themselves to rest, but I remember a dear Oblate priest who said “play hard, but remember to pray even harder and never forget to be obedient and always follow God’s precepts. And a time when he stopped because the woodpecker that was always at the fence was gone and when questioned, reprimanded me and said, “creation-don’t you ever notice creation?”
    And so I am happier now learning that God speaks to us in his created beauty and his creatures are also our teachers. Oblate/Mazedonian spirituality means all of that and living that–giving blessings to God and being silent to listen to him too. But I am still learning to be an Oblate…happily growing…and just plain joyful.

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