THE CROSSES OF OBLATES WHO HAVE ENTERED HEAVEN BY THE LITTLE DOOR WHICH OPENS MORE QUIETLY

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!

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One Response to THE CROSSES OF OBLATES WHO HAVE ENTERED HEAVEN BY THE LITTLE DOOR WHICH OPENS MORE QUIETLY

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What a magnificent way to celebrate Lent. And don’t I just love Eugene de Mazenod who I admire so greatly and who has become a father to me. I sit and am a little overcome because once again he seems to speak directly to my heart. I realize that for the longest time I needed not to just be ‘as good as the next person’ but more – I needeed to be ‘better than, do more, love God to the nth degree, more than any other’. And – to be loved more than any other! My little secret way of being. Even when I prayed daily to God to ‘make me little and ordinary, hidden, a light to my neighbours feet’ it was as though I imagined or wanted that to be brighter than any star and noticeable by all. It was with Eugene and the Oblates that I began to grow and become quite clearly who God had ordained me to be. This gift of not only myself to the Oblates, but of also the Oblates to me – like the turning of the handle of that little door into heaven.

    “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.” A sudden thought as I once again read this and there is an image of myself in the midst of many moving forward towards that small door being held open by Eugene himself. We are not pushing or shoving, nor are any of us carrying flags or banners to announce who we are. The joy within us is deep and we move together, not in a rush and the light comes from within us. It is very much a ‘we are’ not an ‘I am’. The crosses that we wear have become a part of us and ‘The Rule of Life’ that we each were given to live by is light enough.

    I think of the words of Eugene as they are written in the Preface; “WE must lead men to act like human beings, first of all, and then like Christians, and, finally, we must help them to become saints.” It is about all of us and not just one in particular.

    I think of my ‘little’ cross that I will go and put on in a while. Being given that cross was a little like Elisha being given the cloak of Elijah and being commissioned and sent out – just as I was at my baptism. Wow!

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