One of the privileged moments of prayer for Eugene was to be able to unite himself with those he loved in the presence of God. In our Oblate tradition we have come to know this exercise as “oraison.” As a seminarian in Paris he wrote to his mother one Christmas morning describing how united he had been with her during Midnight Mass, despite the distance that separated them.

Dearest Mother, do you really think that I was not beside you last night? How could I fail, meditating as I was on the holy Mother of God, who had just been filled with consolation on giving the world its Saviour, and at the same time had to experience so vividly the poverty, weakness and misery to which she saw her Divine Master reduced for love of men, how could these tender sentiments fail to draw me close to you?
Indeed yes, darling mother, we spent the night together at the foot of the altar, which for me represented the crib in Bethlehem; together we offered our gifts to our Savior and asked him to come to birth in our hearts and strengthen us in all that is weak, etc.
You know my heart all too well, since it was formed from your own, so you will have a very clear understanding that it is as active and goes through the same feelings as your own.

Letter to his mother, 25 December 1809, EO XIV n 37

Who are the people I want to unite myself with before the crib in Bethlehem this year?

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “…to be able to unite himself with those he loved in the presence of God.” What a powerful image!

    Through Him and with Him and in Him – always the beginning, the end and everything in between – God. A joining of the hearts – independent of time and place. A gift from God for most surely I would not have thought of this on my own, would not have known how to do this on my own, how to ‘be’ this way on my own; in truth, incapable of realizing it on my own. Everything within the realm of God – cloaked in love.

    I look at Eugene and how he has carried his mother with him into the heart of Jesus – how beautiful is the love he expresses to her, that he shares with her – a small taste of how the heart of our Beloved opens to each of us.

    Who do I want to unite myself with before the crib in Bethlehem this year? Everyone – most certainly those in the Oblate, the Mazenodian Family; it matters not that I have not yet met every one of you – it matters only that I recognize the Christmas love we share with each other. And there are more: those who have not yet realized love in their hearts, who are broken and struggling who seem to hate and push away the ones who love them – for them especially I unite myself in love and compassion – I know what it is to be filled with that kind of pain. The world – the whole world – those in the past and those to come, but most particularly those in the now. Not sure how that will happen – I leave the logistics to God.

    And to all of you who come here each day – entering into the heart of Eugene and so each of us as we pray and reflect, as we ‘be’ with each other in God. We will approach the crib in Bethlehem together. My love and prayers to all of you – knowing that God will lavish you with hearts full of love – we will meet before the crib. A most Blessed and Joyful Christmas!

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