OUR BICENTENARY: THE WILL AND THE COURAGE TO WALK IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE APOSTLES

If, as I hope, you wish to be one of us, you will not find yourself in unfamiliar territory; you will have four companions.
If presently we are not more numerous, it means we wish to choose men who have the will and the courage to walk in the footsteps of the apostles. It is important to lay solid foundations.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 9 October 1815 O.W. VI n 4

In bringing the missionary group into existence, Eugene used the model of Jesus and the apostles.

The missionary vocation was to be apostolic. From the first Rule of Life that he wrote, he expressed it this way:

What did Our Lord Jesus Christ do?
He chose a certain number of apostles and disciples whom He formed in piety and filled with His spirit;
and after having trained them in his school and the practice of all virtues, He sent them forth to conquer the world which they soon brought under the rule of his holy laws.

1818 Rule

Like Henri Tempier, the members of the Mazenodian family must follow the model of the apostles, and have the courage to do so whatever the consequences.

Henri Tempier’s reply to Eugene’s invitation was a source of great joy for Eugene. It shows the apostolic  “one heart and one soul” that marked his relationship with Eugene:

“May the good God be blessed for having inspired you to prepare for the poor, for the inhabitants of our countryside, those who have the most need of instruction in our religion, a house of missionaries who will go and announce to them the truths of salvation.

I share your views completely, my dear brother… What you want most in those you choose as your collaborators is priests who will not get into a rut of routine and daily hum-drum, and, as Father Charles’ predecessor used to say, plod along day after day without accomplishing anything; you want priests who will be ready to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and work for the salvation of souls with no other reward here on earth but hardship and fatigue. I think that God’s grace has given me this desire. If not, then I wish with all my heart that I will have it, and working with you will make it all the easier to attain. You can, therefore, count entirely on me.”

27 October, 1815 Cf. REY I, p. 183

Eugene described his apostolic ideal in the original version of our Preface:

What more sublime purpose than that of their Institute?
Their founder is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God;
their first fathers are the Apostles.
They are called to be the Savior’s co-workers, the co-redeemers of mankind;

and even though, because of their present small number and the more urgent needs of the people around them, they have to limit the scope of their zeal, for the time being to the poor of our countryside and others,
their ambition should, in its holy aspirations, embrace the vast expanse of the whole earth.
The Church, that glorious inheritance purchased by Christ the Savior at the cost of his own blood, has in our days been cruelly ravaged…

Nota Bene (1818 Rule)

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One Response to OUR BICENTENARY: THE WILL AND THE COURAGE TO WALK IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE APOSTLES

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Even the title this morning – lofty dreams and ideals. Dare I ask for the courage and will to walk in the footsteps of the apostles, dare I ask for the grace. At some point there is no turning back. There seems to be an inborn fear as I read Frank’s words but there is a part of me that asks why not. I dare not begin to separate myself from God – I have come too far and in truth I do not want to go back to the way it was before hearing God say my name.

    So this morning I have a deep sense of what it means when Eugene uses the word daring. There is a pinpoint of understanding that I can only experience, words not yet coming.

    “Like Henri Tempier, the members of the Mazenodian family must follow the model of the apostles, and have the courage to do so whatever the consequences.” It says nothing about gender or state of life as recognized by the Church – he speaks only of the model we are invited to follow, the courage necessary for that and that it be without conditions/limitations. Lord have mercy on me for there is within me a wild uninhibited joy that wishes to have life – in spite of the fear that is alongside of that joy. Please God – I do not want the fear to stop me.

    The image Frank shares of “The apostolic model: BE with Jesus in order to DO” again touches my heart, enflaming it and I do not want to deny that I am drawn to it just like the moth that dances with the fire. “I think that God’s grace has given me this desire. If not, then I wish with all my heart that I will have it…”

    The “nota bene” – like a frame that dresses and holds the purpose. “They are called to be the Savior’s co-workers, the co-redeemers of mankind…” A very long and soft ‘oh’ rests on my breath. It catches my heart and holds it – to be the Savior’s co-worker as I am called. The cross as I am lifted up with arms created of tender mercy.

    These days here in this space, followed with the novena – it is like being on a retreat, it is like an Advent as we move closer to the 25th. To experience in this way the anniversary of the Founding of this family that adopted me and allowed me to share their spirit and belong. It is as if I am running up a mountain side and the path is not easy, yet the joy builds with each step and I try to rid myself of all that is extraneous – unnecessary to carry. God began this and continues on with it in all of us.

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