OUR BICENTENARY: 25 JANUARY 1816 – THE FIRST DAY OF COMMUNITY LIFE

25 January 1816 marked the first day of community life for the Missionaries, with the arrival of the first three members. Eugene had bought some of the Carmelite Convent, with an arrangement that the seller, Madame Gontier, could continue using the greater part of the building for her boarding school for girls. In his Memoires, Eugene tells us that she had

 … left us narrowly confined to the rooms she had conceded to us. To reach the top-floor apartment, which now serves as a library, we had to use the small staircase leading from the outside of the house; we had great difficulty squeezing into these quarters. Thus, two of our group slept in the room that has now become the library, while I myself slept in the narrow passageway leading to it.

AIX FOUNDATION

As we had very little furniture in those first days, we set a lamp on the threshold of the connecting door and it served the three of us at bedtime.
The refectory, supposedly temporary, remained poorly furnished for a long time. Our improvised table was merely a plank placed over two barrels which served as legs. The fireplace, where we did our cooking, smoked so badly that it blotted the daylight out of the fox-hole where we ate with great relish the meager portions set before us. This suited the dispositions God had put into our hearts far more than the leisurely meals my mother would have been glad to serve us at her home. We had lost none of our gaiety; on the contrary, since this way of life was such a striking contrast to the one we had just given up, it often provided us with many a hearty laugh.

 Memoires, cited by Rambert, La vie de Monseigneur Charles-Joseph-Eugène de Mazenod, Tome I, p. 177

This entry was posted in WRITINGS. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to OUR BICENTENARY: 25 JANUARY 1816 – THE FIRST DAY OF COMMUNITY LIFE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Sometimes I forget about those first beginnings. I think of Eugene buying the cloister, the entire building and gardens but the reality is that he had only a few rooms to use. They had to make do with very little. And yet they were happy. I am reminded of some young couples who get married and who have very little – but they make-do very well. The picture shows that where Eugene was sleeping was little more than a very narrow hallway. And yet they enjoyed good laughs over it – they were happy.

    “God had put into our hearts far more than the leisurely meals my mother would have been glad to serve us at her home. We had lost none of our gaiety…” God had put into our hearts…That is the key that I sit with this morning. It all began and had life because it came/comes from God. I look back at the many small beginnings in my life and give thanks. I look at my beginnings with the Oblates, with Eugene, with the Associates. Small beginnings, limitations and yet God has put into my heart more that I had ever received before, more than I thought it capable of holding. To hear the call, to go where we are led… There are limitations and there are small spaces but they are enough and small as they are – within my heart they are limitless because of what God has given.

    Dearest Eugene – did you ever imagine it would be as it is – this family that you started. I most surely didn’t and yet here we all are – your sons and daughters celebrating those first beginnings, playing the music that you first heard and shared with a few instruments. Now we are like a grand living orchestra . The notes playing all over the world, and heard even in the smallest crevasses of our hearts. Thank you for inviting me to be a small part of it. When I look at all of the Oblates in my life, in my heart. Learning to play the notes from them. Grand is the word that comes to mind.

Leave a Reply

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