PARISH MISSIONS: CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE BY BEING AVAILABLE IN THE CHURCH

They will spend the whole morning in the church, and – except in case of necessity – no one will leave without permission of the one presiding

1818 Rule Part 1, Chapter 2, §2

Each morning the missionaries were to be present in the church where the people knew that they were available for them. Once the confessions began in earnest then the missionaries were available there in every possible moment. Their desire for closeness to the people was shown in that once the people began to come to confession, the Missionaries dedicated all the time necessary to helping each one, as Eugene noted in a letter to a pastor:

Since we follow the confessional method of your holy patriarch, Saint Vincent de Paul, that is, hearing confessions without intermission, we don’t go very fast.

Letter to M. Figon, 5 October 1822, O.W. 13, n. 42

Just as the Saviour patiently spent time with sinners to lead them to conversion, so too must His co-operator have the same patience and availability. Practically every account of the missions speaks about the endless hours the missionaries spent being available to people to listen to them in the confessional.

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One Response to PARISH MISSIONS: CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE BY BEING AVAILABLE IN THE CHURCH

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It just looks a little different than it did 200 years ago. When I think about it – being ‘close to the people’ still means the sacrament of Reconciliation, the gift of listening to another’s most intimate of thoughts and sharings, the gift of walking with them, guiding, teaching, sharing.
    Being a friend – not a burden when there is love. I think for a moment of those old confessionals that I saw in the churches in Aix when I visited. Tiny, dark, uncomfortable – and yet I look at what came from those little dark spaces – freedom, new life, hope, renewal – the gifts are endless. And it was no more comfortable for those priests as they sat and listened, loved, prayed with, seeing through the eyes of crucified Saviour, which even as I write the words takes on a depth that I was not really aware of. Truly salvation coming from another’s salvation.
    These days the words priest and pastor seem to have a greater depth for me. I am no longer wishing to measure or compare as I look at the ‘heart’ rather than the outer wrappings and garments. Eugene said in his Lenten Homily to look beneath the rags you wear – when I do that everything looks different, everything and everybody is somehow seen in a new light.
    Here we are in Advent and I am already seeing a light in the darkness. It is all connected somehow. This is all a gift or blessing which has somehow been brought to the surface with the Oblate Studies that I am involved in – they are becoming a part of me. Closer to the people – not separating myself from them out of fear or arrogance, not with judgement.
    Eugene and the Oblates, and now the Mazenodian Family – I seem to be seeing them all (not excluding myself) in a different light. Oh – our God is great!

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