Eugene’s retreat on the Rule leads him to reflect on the observance of the Rule itself.

Take good note of the N.B. of paragraph 1 from ch. 2. It certainly does not say: if anyone finds these Rules too hard, they will be dispensed, they will be tempered to their weakness. Not at all!
The Rule insists, explains its apparent rigor, gives peremptory reasons as motivations, urges the law, for in reality there can be no accommodation on a point of duty: Were anyone, says the Rule, were anyone tempted to regard these and the following rules as too severe for human weakness, we beseech him to consider:
1. that our ministry will be forever fruitless, unless we fervently strive for our own spiritual advancement.
2, that we shall never attain the perfection to which we are called, except by means of that regularity, which has been pronounced indispensable by all the fathers of the spiritual life, and especially by the holy founders of religious orders.
3, since the missions and the spiritual exercises that follow them force us to spend three-fourths of the year in the world where we occupy ourselves principally and almost exclusively with the conversion of sinners, we risk the danger of forgetting our own needs if we do not return to the rule of strict discipline-at least in the brief intervals of this perilous ministry.

Retreat notes, October 1831, EO XV n. 163

The Constitutions and Rules are like the anchor connected to a boat by a chain or a rope. The boat can float and sail, but must always be restrained by the anchor when it is at rest. The Rule could be compared to that chain or rope linking the two. Jesus Christ is our anchor, what is the rope or chain that keeps the boat of our lives connected with him, the Anchor?

For us Oblates, our Constitutions and Rules fulfil that function – and for you?

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    AA – I think for a moment about AA in my life. Those 12 Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous which allowed me to stop running amok; to find a new way to look at life, a new way to live not aimless and empty but which had purpose. Those 12 Steps which were the first steps helping me to live as a human being. They became a part of me – they didn’t drag me down but allowed me to be free.

    Then much later being introduced to the “Constitutions and Rules” – that sounded at first like a way of being chained down, not anchored as to steady and allow life but rather something quite stifling and deadly. But being gradually drawn to them, wanting to get to know them and even live them somehow as a lay woman. They seemed to be an ‘opening’ rather than a ‘closing’. I think of them being not so much an anchor but rather as the threads that are around the very edges of an immense tapestry, not to stop the tapestry from growing but rather to keep the threads from unraveling, from falling away. These are the base threads that do much more than frame for as new threads are added they become the frame, a part of that ‘life’ of growing with the very beginnings and yet still expanding. That is how I understand those wonderful, and yes holy, Rules of Life.

    There as an image that the United Way Campaign used many years ago – it showed a child falling down, an endless falling down, and then there was the image of two hands appearing, open and side by side – ready to catch that child as she fell. They would be there to catch and hold that child so the child could live. That image – those hands did not stop life, but rather gave the opportunity and base to have life.

    Different images, still I see the Constitutions and Rules, yes as an anchor, a base, silken threads.

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