200 YEARS AGO: COMMUNITY PRAYER: THE SOURCE OF ALL MISSIONARY SUCCESS

It seems surprising that as the sixth ministry Eugene puts the community prayer of the Breviary:

All the priests, oblates, and novices are bound to recite the Divine Office in common, according to the rite of the Holy Roman Church, at the hours prescribed by the schedule.

The surprising part is not that the Missionaries must pray regularly, but that this is seen as one of the MINISTRIES of the Missionaries. In other words, the time given to praying the Breviary is as important as any one of the other ministries.

Apart from the personal sanctification that Eugene never stops stressing (“be” in order to “do”), the community prayer is other-centered in that it is a ministry done for the good of the whole Congregation and its mission.

The Institute regards this exercise as the source of all the blessings which must pour out upon all the ministry of the whole Society.

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter 3, §6 Divine Office

Praying the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, is an act of the Church and for the good of the whole Church, of which the community of Missionaries is a cell.

Two clarifications on the text:

– One of the ends of the Missionaries was to make up for the disappearance of the Orders, whose foundation was built on singing the Divine Office at various moments of the day – hence this initial insistence. As the Oblates became geographically more widespread and their ministry more varied in small groups or individually – it was the spirit of this part of the Rule that had to be maintained in their individual prayer: praying the Breviary was a ministry for the welfare of the mission of the whole Congregation.

– Eugene used the word “oblates” to denote all those who had professed their first vows and were not yet priests (i.e. scholastics – seminarians). This was 8 years before the Congregation took the official name of “Oblates” for all its members.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the Church, the spouse of Christ. In it, we praise the Father for his wonderful works and invoke his blessing on our mission. Each community will ordinarily celebrate part of the Hours in common. Where possible, the faithful will be invited to join us in this public prayer of the Church. CC&RR, Constitution 33

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One Response to 200 YEARS AGO: COMMUNITY PRAYER: THE SOURCE OF ALL MISSIONARY SUCCESS

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Constitution 33 – Our Spiritual Resources.
    “The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the Church, the spouse of Christ […] We praise the Father for his wonderful works and invoke his blessing on our mission […] Where possible, the faithful will be invited to join us in this public prayer of the Church.”
    I sit in wonder – 8 years before taking the name “Oblates” for all members of their small community Eugene uses the word “Oblates” to describe who will pray the Breviary. Not some kind of a fluke that this word was used, but rather the working of the Holy Spirit.
    How often are we, the faithful, we who make up the Church invited to join in this beautiful prayer of the Church? The prayer of the Church, the prayer of the community of which we each take and play a part in. And yet I find myself called and invited to take part in this ancient prayer for all. As a lay person I find myself wanting to pray it each day, but I have to admit that my desire to pray it comes only in the morning. As I pray I join in communion with any and all others of the Church who are praying it (much as we come together and are united in Oraison). I know that it is ‘community’ prayer and I think for a moment of Blessed Joseph Gerard and how he most certainly prayed his breviary as he could, alone… I think of those early missionaries who came to North America and in particular to Canada and her most isolated northern areas – so many did not have the occasion to live together under one roof and who must have prayed their Breviary in the spirit of oraison, in the spirit of community.
    It is every bit as much a gift as the Eucharist, as the Word of God, as the practice of Oraison and the other sacraments given to us to live. There will be a special moment of gratitude later this morning as I join with the Church in praying my Morning Prayer.

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