Zeal for the salvation of souls was a missionary quality which the Oblates had. Yet this same zeal could lead some of then to exaggerated efforts. In his journal Eugene expressed his concern to one of them:

Letter to Father Mille. I reprove him for having undertaken the two missions of Prébois and St. Nicholas, exhausted as he is from preceding missions. I insist on the necessity of his disciplining himself.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 7 April 1837, EO XVIII

To Father Mille, he wrote strongly:

I cannot help reproaching you for wanting to give at any cost this mission at Prébois which I had asked you to give up because of the fatigue of the previous missions where I knew that you had spat blood, This amounts to tempting God and killing oneself without any merit; for the Lord does not reward good that is done outside of obedience, less still the good we attempt to do against the norms of obedience. I include among these latter the reasonable care of one’s health.
What is the use of wearing oneself out in this manner? This is always bad; but in our situation, I consider it a crime. So be prudent, for God’s sake! and for once learn to sacrifice your ideas in favour of a father’s disapproval.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 6 April 1837, EO IX n 611

Words that still apply today and that not all of us heed!

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It takes a certain amount of humility to realize and reflect on Eugene’s invitation to us this morning.

    I remember learning about this when I first sobered up – I probably thought of this only in order to stop drinking. But it would seem that sobriety is something so much more than just not drinking; it is how we live the rest of our lives.

    I look at how Eugene uses the word ‘obedience’; not as something which lessens but rather something that invites us into a greater strength. If we can ignore our physical needs of rest and food then we run the risk of no longer relying on God and community to carry us, to walk with us, to give us what we need. Once we stop relying on the love and help of others (including God) we lose our own selves – body and spirit.

    I am reminded once again of the beautiful Rule of Life we are given to help us to live our Oblation – our giving of our entire being as gift to God. “By obedience we become the servants of all… Religious obedience is our way of making real the freedom of the Gospel, in common submission to God’s will (cf. Gal 5:13)… Our work makes us dependent on others in many ways; it requires real detachment from our own will and a deep sense of the Church.” (OMI CC&RR C25)

    There are five constitutions concerning the vow of obedience; not independent of each other but with each being an integral part of the other; sort of like the collection of leaves and twigs used by the birds to make their nests. “…will confirm their lives and their missionary activities to the Constitutions and Rules of the Congregation. They will make them the object of their reflection in prayer and fraternal sharing.” (OMI CC&RR C28)

    I am so grateful that this Rule of Life is shared with those of us who are invited to sit at the table of life sharing Eugene’s charism; not as religious but in the ways that God has called us to be.

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