In all justice to Eugene, we would do him a disservice if we saw his action of bringing the scholastics to vote as a devious ploy to get his own way. The decision that was made with their help proved to be the correct one, and all the Missionaries were to appreciate and accept this way of thinking.

What Eugene had done was to set the ideal for the future and the condition for all future entries: to become a Missionary one became a religious in vows. For his companions who had not joined with that idea, he gave them the freedom to continue as they were if they so wished. He did not force them to change. Leflon continues his reflection:

This debatable intervention could easily have caused the Fathers who had been put into a minority to adopt a cool attitude toward the Founder who had instigated that intervention in order to assure success and toward the simple acolytes who had reversed the situation in the Founder’s favor. The truth of the matter is that everything was arranged for the best. The elections to the positions prescribed by the statutes gave instant proof that in spite of the momentary dissension, unity and charity still prevailed. Acting as a constituted society, gathered in General Chapter according to the terms of the Rule which had just been accepted…

Leflon 2, p. 168

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The word ‘obedience’ speaks to me here this morning. I think of the many Oblates with whom I have spent time and with whom I have asked why and how did they join the Oblates. Some who expressed their struggle with their initial obedience, they wanted to be sent to foreign land as a missionary; or be sent somewhere to teach or to do prison work, etc. etc. But they invariably went on to share how those given (and accepted) Obediences had led them to where they were supposed to be, to where God had called and led them. To where their hearts belonged. Their Obediences led or rather gave them the freedom to pursue and realise their dreams, to live. I think of the words “oblation” and “surrender” – to God, to the Church, to each other. Jesus did it, as did St. Paul and those first disciples. We could repeat what Leflon wrote: “The truth of the matter is that everything was arranged for the best.”

    Sometimes we might think that we want something but we become unsure all of a sudden as to how to get there, what the next steps might look like. We seek guidance, we pray, we discern and we talk with others, a very close friend, mentor or with our spiritual directors who accompany us. We listen and we trust. It is in this manner that we find our way.

    I no longer think of Eugene as inflexible – if there were or are chains they are links of love, forged and shaped with the softest and strongest fibres of wool. I think of Eugene and what he did for his first companions in 1818, how he found a way to carry them through this struggle. And I am reminded of his companions who then found a way to help Eugene find his way out of his years of struggle and sorrow – so that he could say yes to God and his Church and become the Bishop of Marseilles. That first vow of obedience that he and Tempier made to each other back in 1818…

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