Eugene had decreed that the crosses of the deceased Oblates be given to new Oblates so as to maintain the unity of their mission. Father Courtès had wanted to keep the cross of the deceased Father Arnoux, seemingly impressed by his sanctity, and not wanting to hand it over to a young Oblate. It became the occasion for Eugene to repeat his conviction that all Oblates who lived faithfully according to the Rule, were saints.
As I read your modest plea regarding the cross of our Fr. Arnoux, I almost sided with your opinion, feeling that the reasons you gave were well founded, but to decide thus would occasion some inconvenience. We would in fact have to keep a forest of crosses in our houses for I hope, thanks to the goodness of God, that all those who die in the bosom of the Society will arrive in heaven laden with merits after having edified their brothers and dedicated their lives in the service of the Church and the sanctification of souls.
So, how to decide who was more holy so as to keep that one’s cross as a relic?
Who will be judge of the degree of heroism to which one must attain in order to be preferred, supposing that we wish to grant this only to an excellence that is remarkable. Will these distinctions not have something odious about them in a Society of which all the members work to become saints in the exercise of the same ministry and the exact practice of the same Rules? I for one will not make any such discernment. I see miracles only as a reason for an exception. They will prove, not that those who do not work them are less saintly, or that they have lived less well or have died in the Lord to a less evident degree, but that God is pleased to manifest his glory through them, and so they ought to be distinguished amongst the other predestined who have entered heaven by the little door which opens more quietly or, to put it better, without a fanfare.
Thus, up to present, I do not see that we have to make any exception to the Rule that I have established.
Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 13 March 1830, EO VII n 344
The handing on of the Cross makes me think of Elisha receiving the cloak of the Prophet Elijah as his commission to continue his prophetic ministry. How many Elijahs can we think of in the extended Mazenodian Family whose inspiration and mission we continue today? I know many religious and lay associates who “have entered heaven by the little door which opens more quietly” and who continue to inspire me. What a gift!