Less than three months after Eugene and his first companions had come to live in community, two of them felt the need to make a more definitive consecration of themselves to God. Eugene recalled:
Briefly put. Father Tempier and I felt that we should not delay any longer, and on Holy Thursday (April 11, 1816), when both of us had taken our place under the structure of the beautiful repository we had erected over the main altar of the Mission church, in the night of that holy day, we pronounced our vows with an indescribable joy. We enjoyed our happiness throughout this beautiful night, in the presence of Our Lord, at the foot of the magnificent throne where we had placed Him for the Mass of the Pre-sanctified the following day.
Rambert I, p. 187
Eugene and Henri Tempier, being like –minded on the necessity for a formal commitment to God and to each other for the sake of mission, made private vows. Eugene does not tell us the precise content of these vows but it seems, from the context and from later events, that they were focused on obedience to God and to each other in the pursuit of living everyday life in communion with God.
Eugene’s description of the context is important. It is Holy Thursday and the time of prayer at the “Altar of Repose” (where the Eucharist is kept for distribution at the Good Friday service, which was known as the “Mass of the Pre-sanctified” at that time). This time of reflection recalled the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane at prayer while struggling to live the events taking place in full communion with the Father at that moment. The “not what I want, but what you want” (Mark 14:36) of Jesus to the Father became the commitment to the “not what I want, but what you want” of Eugene and Henri Tempier to the Father – and consequently the key to understanding the meaning of oblation.
During this Holy Week, may each of us be able to say in a deeper way: “not what I want, but what You want.”