The document written on 25 January 1816, that we have been reflecting on in these past weeks (Request to the Capitular Vicars of Aix), is our first Rule of Life, our founding vision. It formed the skeleton onto which the following 200 years put life. That founding vision continues to guide us today.

Two years later, in 1818 Eugene and the Missionaries wrote our first expanded and comprehensive Rule of Life. In it he summed up the founding vision in this powerful description:

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.

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Nota Bene. Missions, 78 (1951) p. 15

Every member of the Mazenodian Family, is described as a co-worker of the Savior! As each of us is inspired by the charism of St. Eugene and is drawn into its spirituality and mission – we become co-operators of the Savior. We are co-workers as brothers and priests in our vowed commitment and ministry, we are co-workers as Oblate lay associates and partners in mission, we are co-workers as supporters of the mission in any way as employees, benefactors, spiritual supporters, parishioners and friends. Each of us is an intentional co-worker of the Savior from the seemingly “least important” and menial to the seemingly “most important.” Each of us is a necessary component of the Savior’s love for the world.


“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes with which Christ looks out his compassion to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.”   Teresa of Avila

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “The Savior’s co-workers” …”co-redeemers” …”co-operators of the Savior”. Such lofty terms that invite, and dare; they are words yet more than words. I read Eugene’s words from 1818 – words that come alive and seem to crawl into my heart – my being awakens and opens each time as my heart hears them. Words but more than words for they cajole and wind their way through my being like a vine that climbs and clings to the sheer face of rock with a tenacity that defies all ways of being; connecting my heart, soul, hands and feet. Tendrils that bind and hold us together, inside and out for they are created and woven out of love, out of the breath of God. They are like cords of the softest of velvets which become in themselves all the adornment that one would ever wish to put on.

    These words which go straight to the heart and so there is not time to quibble with them, to look for reasons that they might not apply; they are words that call out to each of us and it is our hearts which hear and respond. Who can explain it?

    Teresa of Avila’s words – like an echo, reminding me of St. Paul. I notice that there is a beautiful similarity between her words and the words that describe our founding vision and way of being. “Yours are the hands with which he [Christ] is to bless us now.” I think for a moment of Eugene’s canonization – the Church is in the midst of all of this. And the words, the message of Frank’s invitation which is repeated by so many of the Oblates throughout the world; “Each of us is a necessary component of the Savior’s love for the world.”

    It is Monday morning. I awoke not quite sure of place in this world and yet oddly excited to have life and another day. This morning’s reflection itself like the dawn which will soon show itself; an invitation to arise and live, to be and love. The Savior’s co-worker, the hands of Christ to bless us all.

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