The Oblate community was Eugene’s constant point of reference, and he missed it whenever he was separated from it. His model for our religious missionary life was that of Jesus and the apostles. For him our communities were meant to be “cenacles” – just like the original cenacle, the upper room where Jesus gathered with his apostles on the first Holy Thursday, and where they prepared to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

After his unhappy experience of the Holy Thursday liturgy at the Royal Palace he wrote to his community that he was united with them

when, for consolation, I took myself in spirit to that room that truly resembles the Cenacle where the disciples, prepared by the lessons they constantly receive in the Society, imbued with the spirit of the Savior who lives in them,
gather in the name of their Master to represent the apostles of whom Jesus Christ could say vos mundi estis [ed John 13,10 ”and you are clean”],
and wait silently and devoutly for the representative of the Master amongst them, at the word of commandment of the Lord, mandatum [ed. the command to love one another], to kneel at their feet,
washing and touching these feet blessed and commanded several thousand years previously by the prophet so as to be feet of evangelizers of good [ed. Isaiah 52,7 “How beautiful are the feet of the messenger who brings good news”], of preachers of peace,
touching, I say, respectfully his lips to these feet whereupon flames dart from his heart and envelope it as from a fount of living water which refreshes and spurts forth wherever eyes are turned.
What emotion! What sentiments! What fervor!

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 27 March 1823, EO VI n 98

In this poetic way Eugene describes once again the model of Jesus in the midst of his disciples to form them, to teach them in word and action, and then fill them with zeal to go out and be his missionaries. During this Holy Week, we are invited to the Upper Room of our lives to be formed in a special way through our participation in the Paschal Mystery.



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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Will this Holy Week be simply a week of ‘busyness’, a week of preparation and service so that others might join in as they come? Will I be able to join in with others accepting the invitation to the Upper Room and participate ‘fully’ in the Paschal Mystery in the midst of the busyness? It has to be about more than just the preparation and service. That is not the end.

    I think of Jesus – did he know what he was in for? He knew his scriptures and what the prophets foretold. Yet there he was – the institution of the Eucharist – before that – when he girded himself to wash the feet of his disciples. Back then – 2000 years ago they wore sandals on unpaved roads and those who were poor – they walked in bare feet. It was much more than just a symbolic act as Jesus washed their feet – it was/is a service born out of love. It was the service and the Eucharist – a full entering into… The beginning of something and done/lived Always through and with and in love.

    I think of Eugene and the members of his society, his family. His oblation, their oblations as they walked in the very footsteps of Jesus and his disciples – isn’t this what it’s always about? Eugene’s love shows through in the words he uses, has he describes and shares how he and they enter into the Paschal Mystery in very specific way on Holy Thursday.

    I think of my parish community, who I love most dearly and how we will come and share together the Holy Triduum – together we step into the Pascal Mystery.

    I think for a moment – this is the full journey with, the real walking with Jesus. This Paschal Mystery that we live every day of our lives, but which we commemorate, take part in and live more fully and a quite specific way.

    I can’t help but be awed and grateful for what God has given to me. It is wondrous that God called my name, and gave me life. It is most perfect that God brought me, called me to be a part of this magnificent Family because it is with all of you that I have learned to go deeper; that I have been led and supported, formed and sent. Eugene spoke of how we would find our salvation with the salvation of others.

    To be so loved! I carry this in the coming week.

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