Around the year 415 AD John Cassian had established the first monastic complex in Western Europe in Marseille – a concept that was to inspire Benedict to do likewise in the following century. The Provençal Eugene would have been justly proud of this event and of the development and achievements of countless monasteries in France. Then the French Revolution destroyed all this.

It was in the context of this emptiness that Eugene wants his Missionaries to fill the vacuum, and so he stated as the second aim of the Society:

Article 1. The end of this association is also, as much as possible, to make up for the absence and loss of fine institutions which have disappeared since the Revolution and which have left a terrible gap of which religion is becoming daily more aware.

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §2.  Missions, 78 (1951) p.13-14

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am reminded of Eugene’s words that he wrote some years after his conversion experience, of how he looked for happiness outside of God – a happiness that never came, that he never found. Outside of God. I remember what my ‘old’ life was like before finding God’s love. It was empty, with huge unfillable holes, hopeless and directionless. I was just like Eugene in some ways looking for happiness outside of God.

    I think of the Church that was decimated in France by the Revolution – her people scattered, and those left with little or no proper education. How were people to come to know God, to seek refuge in God who they did not know? It is never on our own that we find God; always we are led to… filled with…. meeting others who share God with us. God pursues us, finds us. I think of the history of mankind and how God has kept renewing his people. I think for a moment of the Master Potter taking the clay and reshaping it just as is done with our hearts, with the heart of Eugene, with the heart of the Church as it is happened then and continues to happen today. I look at the first 200 years of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Mazenodian Family – how we are being reshaped, remolded every day.

    Eugene and his first companions were trying to rebuild the Church; they were seeking to help fill that vacuum, that hole left by the disbanding of religious institutions – all of this initiated by God – always initiated by God – “when His eyes met mine”; and in the unfolding and sharing of the gift of the Spirit, the charism given by God to serve the Church. Eugene’s spirit, his charism continues to keep alive the ideals of those destroyed monasteries and lives – all in the context of today’s world.

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