A Rule of Life! Eugene and his first companions had come together as a missionary community in 1816. Two years later they captured the essence of their experience of God, their community life and mission in the Constitutions and Rules. These were later revised and then approved by the Church on 17 February 1826. It is this version of the Rule that Eugene is meditating on his retreat.

Wherefore, while pledging themselves to all the works of zeal which priestly charity can inspire-above all, to the work of the missions, which is the main end of their association-these priests, joined together in a society, resolve to follow a rule and constitutions which are unanimously proper to obtain all the benefits that they embrace for their own sanctification and for the salvation of souls..

Retreat notes, October 1831, EO XV n. 163

By following the spirit and letter of this Rule, they – and we today – obtain all the benefits of salvation for oursleves and for our mission.

Yesterday the Oblate Associates at OST in San Antonio renewed their annual commitment to do exactly what Eugene wrote about here: to follow the Associates Rule of Life as the means to attain the same ends that Eugene proposes to all who follow his way of discipleship. As a saint of the Universal Church, his spirit belongs to and can inspire all the People of God.

What is your Rule of Life, dear reader?


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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I didn’t see this coming. It is awesome and disquieting at the same time. The Associates have a Rule of Life? What is my personal Rule of Life? I have not sat down to write one and yet there is one within me, it is perhaps more a ‘spirit’ rather than letter. None of it is original to me – I borrow from others.

    It began with the AA 12 Steps, I took them as my own, deeply personal, breathing, eating them – not out of any great goodness on my part but simply so that I could live. This became the first layer of soil and stone upon which a seed would be sown.

    Once that seed was sown within me I stayed with the people of Madonna House Apostolate, met the Foundress, Catherine Dougherty. I don’t ever remember hearing about a Rule of Life there but they had the “Little Mandate” which I took to heart and I made it mine.
    Arise – go! Sell all you possess.
    Give it directly, personally to the poor.
    Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me,
    going to the poor, being poor,
    being one of them, one of Me.
    Little – be always little! Be simple, poor, childlike.
    Preach the Gospel with your life – without compromise!
    Listen to the Spirit. He will lead you.
    Do little things exceedingly well for love of Me.
    Love…love…love, never counting the cost.
    Go into the marketplace and stay with Me.
    Pray, fast. Pray always, fast.
    Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbour’s feet.
    Go without fears into the depths of men’s hearts. I shall be with you.
    Pray always. I will be your rest.

    “I am third.” A small sign over every doorway. God is first, you are second and I am third. A rich and beautiful spirituality. It was there that I met Jesus on the Cross. The beginning of what was to become a magnificent and wild love affair with God, filled with fire that did/does not consume me. Madonna House was not the place that I was called to be, but rather it was a foundational base, which nurtured and fed that small seed that was growing within me.

    Leaving Madonna House I met the Oblates because it was an Oblate parish that I joined; it was a quiet time (in some ways) for many years, becoming a part of the parish and walking on a path in almost blindness as the parishioners guided me in some ways. Then I heard two words: “Immense Hope” and I was captured. That process that the Oblates were working through – they were like a hook. It was here where “Eugene speaks to us” that I first heard of the Constitutions and Rules and those three words scared me, but at the same time I felt myself drawn to them and that has only grown over the years. I ‘borrow’ them quite shamelessly for this is how I wish to live, feel called to live. It will never look the same but I take what I can, seeing them, living them through the focus of an Oblate Associate. There is a small poverty here for I would like to call them my own.

    I am a part of all that I have met. My founder is Eugene de Mazenod, my spiritual father, my friend. I follow (not always successfully) the Rule of Life that he gave to us. Knowing full well that does not always sit well with some. That small seed has grown and broken through the ground to become a young tree, the Oblate Rule of Life being its nourishment, being it’s gardner.

    This is all ‘inside’ stuff and I would love to see what an Oblate Associate Rule of Life looks like. Not to steal it but rather to look at, perhaps that could help us to be more unified. I don’t know – we are young here but it certainly couldn’t hurt.

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