OUR BICENTENARY: THE INVITATION TO COME AND “BE” IN ORDER TO “DO”

From the very beginning, Eugene insisted that whatever missionary work was done, its success depended on the quality of life of those doing it. It was the example of the lifestyle of the missionary that was to speak louder than any words. This is why for Eugene, community and a commonly accepted Rule of Life was a non-negotiable element of our vocation.

In our 200 year history, many lay persons have joined the Oblates in living a vocation to be missionaries, expressed in many ways according to their state of life.

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The Mazenodian Family at prayer in the Oblate Chapel in  Aix en Provence

Each of the members of the Mazenodian family has a vocation to BE (to have an exemplary quality of life) – in order to DO (to evangelize people and help them to find a Christ-focused meaning in their lives).

Eugene highlighted the core ideal to Tempier:

… an establishment which will steadily furnish our countryside with fervent missionaries.
These will ceaselessly engage in destroying the empire of the demon, at the same time as providing the example of a life worthy of the Church in the community which they will form.
Indeed, we will live together in one house, that which I have bought, under a Rule we shall adopt with common accord

To form “one heart and one soul” is a concept dear to the heart of the Founder. As the size of the Congregation grew, so did he become increasingly insistent on this unity. For Eugene, his missionary family was the most beautiful family in the whole world and he wanted it to be the most united. The one heart and one soul was formed by an equilibrium in lifestyle and Eugene’s constant call was for a greater balance – BE in order to DO:


Happiness awaits us in this holy Society which will have but one heart and soul. One part of the year will be devoted to the conversion of souls, the other to seclusion, study and our individual sanctification.
I say no more for the moment; it suffices to give some intimation of the spiritual delights we will taste together…
… All depends on how we begin. We need perfect unanimity of sentiments, the same goodwill, the same disinterestedness, the same devotedness – that sums it up.

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

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One Response to OUR BICENTENARY: THE INVITATION TO COME AND “BE” IN ORDER TO “DO”

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “Be” in order to “Do”. It seems sometimes that I am much more comfortable and at ease with the doing first, with my efforts to produce and show, to carry rather than be carried. But it is Franks’s explanation that shines a light on what God has already be working on within me. He said; “Each of the members of the Mazenodian family has a vocation to BE (to have an exemplary quality of life) – in order to DO (to evangelize people and help them to find a Christ-focused meaning in their lives).” A light goes on and I look at what I have been struggling with in the past week or two. Something clicks within me and there is a small acceptance of myself that begins to rise up from within.

    On Friday I sat and talked with a friend, pointing out (like it was not already known) that I have this need to be noticed and loved, to lead. It seems to be a part of me and as I spoke with him I realised that it does not need to be all bad. On Sunday we heard Isaiah say; “…for the lord delights in you” and then “…so shall your God rejoice over you.” Taken out of context but there it was right in front of me. This God who created me, who told (and tells) me I am his beloved, who knows me from before I was, who has formed me, molded me and given me gifts to share with all other, who has grown my heart so that I might love. I am a delight to… My God rejoices over me.

    My God who has called me to be a part of the Mazenodian Family, who introduced me to Eugene, who gave me to the Oblates and them to me. The quality of my life is more than exemplary for that word cannot capture all that my life in God is or will be. And my doing – so I will not be a great leader or teacher or a person well-known – I still love greatly and evangelize in small ways, perhaps touching and lighting the small areas of poverty in all of our lives, supporting and doing so that those who are called to go out can.

    “…his missionary family was the most beautiful family in the whole world”. Indeed! It is and I say that with hope and joy, with immense trust and gratitude. As if all that I receive each day were not enough and so we are invited to join in this celebration of 200 years. What a magnificent time it is to be a part of!

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