LIVING HOLY WEEK WITH SAINT EUGENE: THE JOY OF OBLATION ON HOLY THURSDAY

 

… we pronounced our vows with an indescribable joy. We savoured 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

Reading Eugene’s description of the Holy Thursday night of their vows one is able to sense the beauty of the gesture of oblation and its importance for him. As he speaks of the joy and the hours spent savoring the depth of the moment, it is an experience of intimacy with Jesus in his Eucharistic presence that he refers to in other writings. In 1830 for example he wrote to Henri Tempier:

This morning, before communion, I dared to speak to this good Master with the same freedom that I would have had if I had had the happiness to live when he walked on earth, and if I had found myself in the same predicament. I said Mass in a particular chapel, I was not impeded by anyone’s presence. I exposed to him our needs, asked his light and his assistance, and then I surrendered myself entirely to him, wishing absolutely nothing else than his holy will. I took communion in this disposition. As soon as I had taken the precious blood, it was impossible for me to withstand such an abundance of interior consolations…

Letter to Henri Tempier, 23 August 1830, O.W. VII n. 359

Meditating on the first Holy Thursday celebration of the Missionaries makes me think of the prayer of Jesus at the last supper where he invited the apostles to communion with his Father: “I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26) In the spirit of Jesus’ promise on the first Holy Thursday in Jerusalem: “Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete” (John 16:24) – we can understand something of the fullness of joy experienced on Holy Thursday 1816 in Aix en Provence, which can be ours today.

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One Response to LIVING HOLY WEEK WITH SAINT EUGENE: THE JOY OF OBLATION ON HOLY THURSDAY

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    As I read the words above my mind flits from one line to another, never really landing or staying put. What am I afraid of? Why do I hesitate and hold my heart in bindings so as not to feel or experience? I think of the number of times that I awoke during the night and the words that came to me; “read this letter at the foot of your crucifix…” words that Eugene himself wrote to Henri Tempier. During the night I thought that this was how I wished to begin my introduction to the Constitutions and Rules. These were the words read to me some years ago when I asked an Oblate to introduce me to Eugene. As they were read I experienced them as Eugene speaking directly to me, inviting me to join him, sharing in a most particular way of life. A stance, a way of being and so hearing them in my mind I would begin my rosary and would again go to sleep for a while.

    So I place myself at the foot of the cross, allowing myself to relax and ‘be’, allowing my eyes to open wide, allowing myself to savour what both Frank and Eugene are sharing.

    “It is an experience of intimacy with Jesus…” Why was I afraid for this is what I hunger, what I long for. I dare to enter into the Garden with Jesus and be there. “This morning, before communion, I dared to speak to this good Master with the same freedom that I would have had if I had had the happiness to live when he walked on earth, and if I had found myself in the same predicament.” This is what I want – this is what I try to do especially when I am on retreat. But why not now? “Ask and you will receive, so that our joy may be complete.” (John 16:24).

    “I said Mass in a particular chapel, I was not impeded by anyone’s presence. I exposed to him our needs, asked his light and his assistance, and then I surrendered myself entirely to him, wishing absolutely nothing else than his holy will.” This is what I do (most imperfectly) went I go to sit in a specific chair every morning for a period of contemplation. And when I leave that space it is always with a sense of deep joy, peace and strength. This has become an integral part of my day and the stance of how I will walk through my day. Not alone.

    It would seem this is a part of the paschal mystery which is not a one-time event, but an integral part of life – each day. Living Holy Thursday each day!

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