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.

omi rule

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.”

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “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.” Imitating the Savior – such a lofty idea, such an impossible dream. I remember when I first joined AA – fearful to even say the word God. I can remember the first time that I really heard the idea of Jesus being my model. It spoke to my heart – but who am I to use “Jesus” as a model – unthinkable. Unthinkable to say his name aloud, so often I had misused it very loudly. Unthinkable and yet… It is a word, a name that is to be a breath of the heart. Jesus as my model. I reread that line many times and have gone back to it in my reflections even more.

    And now the idea of imitating the Savior. I am a little bit surprised for that too comes out as more of my heart’s breath. I have gotten used to thinking/saying/breathing “Jesus… my crucified Savior”.

    How do I do this? I think of Eugene telling Henri Tempier to read the letter at the foot of his crucifix. I have grown used to repeating and thinking of what Eugene and his many sons and daughters have taught me; to see through the eyes of our crucified Savior. If that happens, when it happens, it is then that I am able to love as does Jesus, to open my arms wide as to gather the other into an embrace, close. In seeing through the eyes of our crucified savior I am able to love and be close to all others. It is mystery – this a small secret of our mission.

  2. Peg Hanafin says:


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