… we pronounced our vows with an indescribable joy. We savoured 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

Reading Eugene’s description of the Holy Thursday night of their vows one is able to sense the beauty of the gesture of oblation and its importance for him. As he speaks of the joy and the hours spent savoring the depth of the moment, it is an experience of intimacy with Jesus in his Eucharistic presence that he refers to in other writings. In 1830 for example he wrote to Henri Tempier:

This morning, before communion, I dared to speak to this good Master with the same freedom that I would have had if I had had the happiness to live when he walked on earth, and if I had found myself in the same predicament. I said Mass in a particular chapel, I was not impeded by anyone’s presence. I exposed to him our needs, asked his light and his assistance, and then I surrendered myself entirely to him, wishing absolutely nothing else than his holy will. I took communion in this disposition. As soon as I had taken the precious blood, it was impossible for me to withstand such an abundance of interior consolations…

Letter to Henri Tempier, 23 August 1830, O.W. VII n. 359

Meditating on the first Holy Thursday celebration of the Missionaries makes me think of the prayer of Jesus at the last supper where he invited the apostles to communion with his Father: “I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26) In the spirit of Jesus’ promise on the first Holy Thursday in Jerusalem: “Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete” (John 16:24) – we can understand something of the fullness of joy experienced on Holy Thursday 1816 in Aix en Provence, which can be ours today.



This entry was posted in WRITINGS. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I want to picture Eugene and Tempier in those moments of their vows, their ‘gesture of oblation’ – I want to picture them prostrating themselves before God – for there is immense freedom and surrender in their obedience to God and to each other. There is utter mystery here and for moment as I look inward I have the impression of many, many peoples (too many to count) walking into it, entering into it. This is not the end of something but rather the beginning of everything. This is not the death of one taking one’s own life, but rather life that only comes from the giving of one’s own life.

    Holy Thursday – so much more than just the ‘day before Good Friday’. More than the ‘setting the theme’ or preparing for… it is a part of the Triduum, the Paschal Mystery. I am able to find myself amidst that crowd entering into the mystery – not pushed or dragged along – although we are a ‘part of’ we are also distinct from – I realise it is like trying to describe the Trinity – I do not have the words for this either.

    Tomorrow night there will be an ‘entering into’ – I do not know how – but I will ask God and it will be so. And I will not be alone for all of you will be there.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *