Since 1818, the custom of the Oblates was to have their annual retreat at the end of October and to conclude with the symbolic renewal of their oblation on November 1. This is exactly what Eugene did in Billens with the young students, except that here the scholastics would have renewed their temporary vows, making Eugene refer to them as angels on this important day. On the occasion of their renewing their “yes” to God’s call, Eugene declares how tangibly they experienced the presence of the Savior in their midst.
As this was a day of celebration for all the Oblates, wherever they were, Eugene paused to write to Henri Tempier to share the blessings of the feast with him.
I will not get much done on my letter today, my very dear friend, for I can only employ the time of the family supper which is even somewhat advanced, but it would cost me too much not to converse a few moments with you on such a beautiful day when our angels have been so fervent and have crowned their holy retreat in the most touching manner, especially in present circumstances.
I kept you present in this charming little chapel where, from six o’clock in the morning, after our hour of oraison, we have begun this delightful exercise which transports us heavenward, or at least brings Heaven so close to us that we could believe we were there, so tangible is the presence of God our Saviour to all our hearts. The tears which flowed from all eyes witness the sentiments which animated them and the supernatural happiness that was experienced….
Letter to Henri Tempier, 1 November 1830, EO VII n 370
Many members of the Mazenodian family renew our commitments each year, may it always be an occasion to experience the tangible loving presence of the Savior in living them out.