We will always be close to the people with whom we work, taking into account their values and aspirations.
CC&RR, Constitution 8
“Close to the people” – this is the characteristic by which the Oblates are best known. Wherever in the world we find ourselves, we can hear people saying this of us. Why this characteristic?
It is Saint Eugene’s gift to us. Whenever I reflect on Eugene’s encounter with the Crucified Savior I thnk of open arms. Eugene, looking at Jesus with his arms wide open on the Cross became aware of the immensity of God’s love for him and was able to open his own arms in response. Experiencing the closeness of God to him, he was able to respond by imitating this closeness of God. Figuratively I like to say that Eugene, experiencing the hug of God from the Cross, was able to respond by opening his own arms to embrace the Savior.
Never was my soul more satisfied, never did it feel such happiness… my soul took wings for its last end, towards God its only good whose loss it felt so keenly…
Let me at least make up for lost time by redoubling my love for him. May all my actions, thoughts, etc., be directed towards that end. What more glorious occupation than to act in everything and for everything only for God, to love him above all else…
Retreat Journal, December 1814, EO XV n.130
Being close to the people means imitating the Savior by opening our arms to them and loving them as He does. Here is the secret of our mission.
Pope Francis words to the US Church can be applied universally: “The Church’s challenge is staying close to the people, close to the people of the United States, not being a detached Church from the people but close to them, close, close, and this is something that the Church in the United States has understood and understood well.”