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.