OUR BICENTENARY: AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS LISTEN TO WHAT GOD IS ASKING OF YOU

Eugene’s letter to the 27 year-old diocesan priest, Henri Tempier, is an essential foundation document for us. It contains the seeds of what is essential in our vocation.

The letter shows the fundamental starting point of the vocation of any member of the Mazenodian family: it has to flow from an experience of the love of God on the Cross. “Read this letter at the foot of your crucifix” is not a pious thought – but it is a necessary attitude: Eugene experienced God’s love for him and understood his vocation at the foot of the Crucifix. Anyone who feels called to journey with Eugene needs to have as a starting point and as a point of focus the fact of God’s love expressed on the Cross.

In his desire to live “all for God” Tempier must listen to where the voice of God is calling him to move for the glory of God and for the salvation of the abandoned people of Provence.

My dear friend, read this letter at the foot of your crucifix
with the desire to listen only to God
regarding what the good of his glory
and the salvation of souls
demand from a priest like yourself.

Henri Tempier is invited to look at the religious situation of the poorer people in Provence through the eyes of the Crucified Savior. It is an invitation to feel from the depth of his heart their experience of not having a sense of direction in their lives because God is absent.

At the foot of the Cross, symbol of the Savior who sacrificed all for others, he is invited to make a sacrifice of his own comfort so that others may have life.

This is the meaning of oblation: to look at the most abandoned with the eyes and heart of the Savior, and to respond by imitating the Savior’s self-giving so that they may have the fullness of life.

Dismiss the attraction of possessions, the love of comfort and convenience;
allow yourself to be fully penetrated by the situation of the people who live in the countryside, by the state of religion among them, by the apostasy that daily spreads wider with dreadfully ravaging effects.
Look at the feebleness of the means employed to date to oppose this flood of evil; ask your heart what it would like to do to remedy these disasters and then reply to my letter.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 9 October 1815 EO VI n 4

This invitation has continued to be repeated and echo throughout our 200-year history. Many have responded, and their missionary generosity has made a difference to the lives of countless people around the world. As we celebrate, we give thanks and we respond with the desire to let Eugene’s call continue to echo and to make a difference.

This entry was posted in WRITINGS. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to OUR BICENTENARY: AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS LISTEN TO WHAT GOD IS ASKING OF YOU

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “Read this letter at the foot of your crucifix” is not a pious thought – but it is a necessary attitude: Eugene experienced God’s love for him and understood his vocation at the foot of the Crucifix. Anyone who feels called to journey with Eugene needs to have as a starting point and as a point of focus the fact of God’s love expressed on the Cross.”

    It is a like a light bulb going on – for a brief and awesome moment in time I understand, I see. For in coming here this morning I have returned now three times to this small section. At the foot of the cross – an attitude, a way of being. I wanted to be pious. I wanted to be holy. The small tiny flame, an ember really that I spoke of yesterday – I wanted to be a bright flame. All of that – not bad but not exactly pure. Have I made things a little harder for others around me? Even as I ask this question I can feel the mercy of God embracing me, washing over me. The word ‘surrender’ comes to mind. Does God surrender to me as I surrender myself to God?

    I stand at the foot of the cross. It is a place I found myself in more than 30 years ago. I stood there feeling this was where I belonged. It has not changed today – except that I know that I am not alone. I am but I am not. For one brief moment outside of time this morning as I shared my desires to be pious and holy, noticed – there was sorrow, deep sorrow for any who I have hurt in my quest for to be noticed. And I recognized in that another moment of being embraced – held tightly , an embrace of immense mercy.

    I cannot ‘think’ this out – that simply won’t work. I cannot ‘do’ anything here. I can only be. This morning has been a time of sorrow for sure but also a time of immense freedom and joy. The foot of the cross is a place of smallness and powerlessness. It is a place of humility and fidelity. It is a place of surrender and a place of the most extreme gift of love. It is a place where God has called me to be and a place where I feel most at home in a funny sort of way. It is also the place where I first met Eugene. Awesome that I should receive so much here, that it is where I should find life. There is deep within me a small flame of life, unseen by all but it grows so that like a roaring fire it fills me – it is gratitude and joy. I stand here at the foot of the cross this morning, filled with gratitude. This shall be the start of my day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *