Less than three months after Eugene and his first companions had come to live in community, two of them felt the need to make a more definitive consecration of themselves to God. Eugene recalled:

Briefly put. Father Tempier and I felt that we should not delay any longer, and on Holy Thursday (April 11, 1816), when both of us had taken our place under the structure of the beautiful repository we had erected over the main altar of the Mission church, in the night of that holy day, we pronounced our vows with an indescribable joy. We enjoyed our happiness throughout this beautiful night, in the presence of Our Lord, at the foot of the magnificent throne where we had placed Him for the Mass of the Pre-sanctified the following day.

Rambert I, p. 187

Eugene and Henri Tempier, being like –minded on the necessity for a formal commitment to God and to each other for the sake of mission, made private vows. Eugene does not tell us the precise content of these vows but it seems, from the context and from later events, that they were focused on obedience to God and to each other in the pursuit of living everyday life in communion with God.

Eugene’s description of the context is important. It is Holy Thursday and the time of prayer at the “Altar of Repose” (where the Eucharist is kept for distribution at the Good Friday service, which was known as the “Mass of the Pre-sanctified” at that time). This time of reflection recalled the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane at prayer while struggling to live the events taking place in full communion with the Father at that moment. The “not what I want, but what you want” (Mark 14:36) of Jesus to the Father became the commitment to the “not what I want, but what you want” of Eugene and Henri Tempier to the Father – and consequently the key to understanding the meaning of oblation.

During this Holy Week, may each of us be able to say in a deeper way: “not what I want, but what You want.”

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Holy Week. Holy Thursday and our invitation to renew our “yes” to God. I look back over the years, of my first ‘yes’ to God – what a glorious time. Bridal. My ‘yes’ – my oblation even before I knew of the word. Wildly in love! That has never left me, never waned – the opposite in fact. It has deepened, filled-out while – as it, as I have matured. Even that deep yearning within me – still there.

    It has been a difficult Lent for me – a beautiful Lent but a difficult one. My journey through, with and in. I have noticed at times that as I go deeper, as I struggle and hurt and stand in all of that (not because it was my idea and wow isn’t that one heck of an invitation) I seem to see more, others who are struggling and hurting and crazy as it sounds my response is to love more deeply – I seem tobe given a larger dose of compassion to share with others.

    Holy Thursday has always been – in my eyes – a time for the ‘priests’ to celebrate and renew. It has never before been so personal to me. It is daunting. I have spent more time this Lent telling God this is not what I want (you know the struggle and pain part) and yet here I sit. I think of the betrayal, of the trial, the cross and the humiliation and yes – the resurrection.

    And I think of Eugene – of his struggles and suffering especially his ‘trial’ before finally becoming Bishop of Marseilles. That entire wretched journey. He must have renewed his oblation over and over again for as time passed – he grew – his love grew. His struggles did not cease and yet his heart continued to grow.

    I think of Mary’s words – let it be done unto me… oblation. Not what I want, but what you want… oblation.

    Holy Thursday will never be the same again – at least not for me. I will celebrate it, I will renew my own private vows to God, my oblation. It will be silent and quiet – intimate in my heart. But I will not be alone – how awesome is that!

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