I’M NOT AFRAID TO DIE WHILE FULFILLING THE DUTIES OF MY MINISTRY TO THE SICK

God is my witness that I’m not afraid to die of cholera, typhus, or the plague, granted that it is while fulfilling the duties of my ministry to the sick that I contract one of these evils.

Eugene first expressed this sentiment on the eve of his priestly ordination in 1811. Twenty-four years later, he continues to repeat his Oblate conviction that true oblation means being prepared to lay down one’s life for others as Jesus did.

On the contrary, I ardently desire that kind of death, for I think it would be a very good way to expiate my sins; so if I go to Marseilles, I’m going to throw myself unreservedly into the fray after three days’ retreat, to put my soul in order before God. I will carry out this plan the moment the danger becomes pressing.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 19 July 1835, EO VIII n 523

These are not idle words. In 1814 he had risked his life to minister to the dying Austrian prisoners of war and this “cooperator of the Savior” had almost died himself. (See EM speaks…..

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One Response to I’M NOT AFRAID TO DIE WHILE FULFILLING THE DUTIES OF MY MINISTRY TO THE SICK

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Indeed these are not ‘idle’ or empty words. For Eugene ‘true oblation’ is first his honesty in sharing as he does with Henri Tempier. Then in turning it over to God (the three days retreat to put his soul in order before God) to help those who are dying and those who are serving the dying. If he dies doing that – then so be it. He is not being overly dramatic, nor is he running after death. He is though preparing for whatever God has in store for him as he lives out his oblation to God.

    I am reminded for a moment of the “white hats” – those young men in Syria who go to rescue people who have been targeted and bombed in their homes as part of the on-going war within their own country. They do not have a wish to die but rather they love their own people who are the poorest of the poor by trying to rescue them and get them to some type of safety. In doing that they have made themselves targets in the ongoing war. They are some of the many faces of lived oblation in today’s world.

    Our own oblations will not always, most likely will never appear so extreme or heroic as Eugene’s in helping those dying from the epidemics. We begin with the small steps, the small gestures, those which touch others in ways that remind others they are loved and appreciated.

    How today am I called and invited to give myself in love? It may be something as little as going out in the heat to take food and water or more – the Eucharist – to another who is unable to get out of where they are living, visiting the sick.

    I think of the drawing on the wall that hangs over my prayer table. It is of a young indigenous man with his arms open wide and thorns around his waist. The caption reads: “Send me.” And I am reminded: “Our life in all its dimensions is a prayer that, in us and through us, God’s kingdom come.” (OMI CC&RR C32)

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