Regard the Rule as our law, the superiors as God, our brothers like our other selves.
Letter to Hippolyte Guibert, 29 July 1830, EO VII n 350
The expression, “Regard… the superiors as God,” may sound very surprising and, perhaps, we are tempted to think almost blasphemous. Our current Rule of Life clarifies what Eugene wanted to communicate:
“Our Superiors are a sign of the Lord’s loving and guiding presence in our midst.” CC&RR, Constitution 81
The Missionary Oblates were born because God wanted us to exist in the Church. Eugene never wavered from the conviction that God had called him and had entrusted to him the charism of his missionary family. In this way, the community superior was to be regarded as having a God-given function, and represented and reflected the presence of God in the community. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20)
Our Rule of Life continues on the role of the community superiors:
They call us to live up to our Oblate vocation and provide us with the support we need. In a spirit of co-responsibility, they lead the community, making decisions, supporting initiatives and implementing policies, according to the spirit and norms of the Constitutions and Rules. Superiors must know how to delegate authority as well as assign responsibility. CC&RR, Constitution 81.
A question: would the coordinators of our various Mazenodian groups see an invitation to be something of this in their ministry to their groups? It would be great to get a reaction…