AS SOON AS ONE OF OUR MEN IS NAMED COMMUNITY SUPERIOR, HE SETS HIMSELF UP AS THE SOLE MASTER

Those responsible for the various Oblate communities were very young and full of zeal and innovative ideas. Eugene corresponded regularly with each of them to encourage and guide them. He did, however, condemn any abuse of power when decisions were made without consultation.

It’s a peculiar thing; I am always amazed to see that as soon as one of our men is named superior in a particular community, he sets himself up as the sole master, he arranges everything, orders everything as he sees fit, without making the least effort to ask my advice or to consult the men the Rule appoints as his councillors. In this way our local superiors assert their independence far more than the Superior General who never acts without hearing the men around him.

In insisting on consultation with him, Eugene was not acting as a controlling busybody but as Superior General. The nuance is important because it is connected with the charism given to the Church by the Holy Spirit, of which the Superior General is the custodian. Hence all decisions regarding religious community life and mission had to be made in the light of the charism.

They don’t do this deliberately, rather they are letting themselves be influenced, imitating the fashion, I would nearly say, followed in other places, and that is how abuses set in. It’s about time to correct all this, and since this won’t come about of itself, as it ought. I am going to see to it myself.

Letter to Casimir Aubert, 18 May 1836, EO VIII n 572

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One Response to AS SOON AS ONE OF OUR MEN IS NAMED COMMUNITY SUPERIOR, HE SETS HIMSELF UP AS THE SOLE MASTER

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “…the charism given to the Church by the Holy Spirit, of which the Superior General is the custodian. Hence all decisions regarding religious community life and mission had to be made in the light of the charism.”

    This is one of the most beautiful ways of living that I can think of. Humble stewardship. I remember first learning that the charism, the Mazenodian Charism belongs not to the Oblates but to the Church and she is the guardian. She is the guardian of the charism given to St. Eugene de Mazenod which is expressed so beautifully in the Constitutions and Rules. Awe and wonder to be invited to live in the light of this charism.

    I’m thinking of the word attitude, and perhaps it is our attitudes which allow us to try to leave our mark on this world, to take control of all of life. I am reminded for a moment of this past Sunday’s Readings from 2 Timothy 1.68, 13-14 and the Gospel from Luke 17.5-10. As the person giving the Reflection stated – they were about Faith and slaves.

    The gift of the Spirit which is ‘shared’ with all of us who are invited and led by the Spirit to journey with the community. How I see and understand this will depend on my attitude. If I try to use it as a weapon of power it will become destructive and harmful, a weapon of ‘control’. But if I hold this position in a spirit of humility and gratitude the Spirit will shed the light of this charism on all who behold it.

    At all levels we are each of us called to be custodians rather than owners; we share together, in community, in the light of the charism.

    This is the light that we live in. “Our life in all its dimensions is a prayer that, in us and through us, God’s kingdom come.”(C 32) This is the light that shines on us and that we share with others.

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