As friendship was important to Eugene, so much more important was its expression in the presence of God. Having asked his friend Emmanuel to pray for him and support him in his discernment, he then proposes a practical way of doing this.
How I wish I were in a position to talk more clearly with you! You would be a help to me not only by your prayers, but also by your example, and at your side I would be more courageous in the battle and more assured of victory.
But since such a union is unfortunately impossible, let us make this separation more endurable by a more frequent correspondence: let us fix a spiritual rendezvous in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ every Sunday at 10:30 a.m., an hour at which Mass is solemnly celebrated in every Church. There we will pray at the same hour for our mutual needs, and through our union, we will so to speak compel the tender heart of our Redeemer to apply in our regard in a special way the merits of his Passion and Death.
Goodbye, my dear friend, please send me a reply without delay and go on loving me as much as I love you.
Letter to Emmanuel Gaultier de Claubry, 23 December 1807, EO XIV n 22
This is the practice that Oblates affectionately know as “oraison” – a time of silent fraternal communion in prayer with one another in the presence of Jesus. It would become a hallmark of Eugene’s spirituality and practice in his relationship with people, and especially the Oblate missionaries scattered all around the world.
It is a way of actualizing the promise of Jesus: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20
“Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link.” Simone Weil