WHEN THE POPE SPEAKS TO A BISHOP WITH THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH IN VIEW, HE MUST BE OBEYED

Writing to Fr Courtès, one of the first Oblates in Aix en Provence, about his impending visit to Rome at the summons of the Pope, he says:

… Now I cannot put off telling you something that will come as quite a shock. I am leaving for Rome. The Pope has just put my obedience to this test. Don’t tell anyone about this journey before it has been made public and even then don’t say I am going on the Pope’s command. My sense of foreboding in view of the trust that the Head of the Church is showing me is more than I can say.
He wants me to leave without the least delay for an important message that he wishes to communicate to me personally and to induce me to respond promptly to his invitation he appeals to my well-known sense of devotion to our holy faith.
I don’t hesitate for a moment to obey but I have a presentiment that I am going to be entrusted with some troublesome mission in some region of America. Colleagues who had to be brought in on the matter are carried away by other kinds of conjectures. For myself I see no other possibility. When the Pope speaks to a bishop with the good of the Church in view, he must be obeyed, cost what it might. Redouble your prayers on my behalf. Affectionate greetings.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 31 July 1833, EO VIII n 448

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One Response to WHEN THE POPE SPEAKS TO A BISHOP WITH THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH IN VIEW, HE MUST BE OBEYED

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am reminded of Jesus being obedient to the will of the Father. Even as he headed into Jerusalem and then was brought before the authorities. Being betrayed by his own people and then giving his life for them. Being “put to the test” – huge! And no less was asked of his apostles – they too were put to the test and some paid most dearly with their very lives. I think of St. Paul who seemed to shine his light on Eugene.

    Eugene with his sense of foreboding. Eugene who was every bit the missionary, responding with his life to God’s call and allowing himself to be sent. Perhaps with being entrusted “with some troublesome mission in some region of America” – a small smile forming within me for I live in the ‘Americas’ and even now I am preparing for a very small presentation on the early Oblates of OMI Lacombe Province which I will share on February 17th – some of those men who were obedient to Eugene – Bishop and Founder. Like Eugene they responded in obedience to being sent with love and fidelity, with immense trust and permeated with their oblation to God.

    “When the Pope speaks to a bishop with the good of the Church in view, he must be obeyed, cost what it might.” What does that look like when the Superior General asks something of his brothers, when a Provincial asks and sends a person to a specific place or task which is not always of their liking or desires – and even further when a superior calls one of his brothers to obedience? Life can be difficult and yet we are all called to obedience – to God, to our Church, to our bosses and our spouses, to each other.

    What does that look like in my life? It may not be the Pope who asks, or a superior – it may come from one of my sisters or brothers. As a member of the Mazenodian Family there is within me a sense of obedience with and to each other. For many of us it is born out of love and fidelity to God, to the Church, to the congregation and the community around us. It is not a ‘letter of the law’ obedience nor an element of power. It is within us how we live our oblation just as did Eugene.

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