For Saint Eugene, Holy Thursday marked two important events: his first communion and his private vow of saying “yes” to God on this night when Christians keep watch with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and Jesus said “yes”. This year, being unable to celebrate the liturgy in our churches, I invite the members of the Mazenodian Family to spend time with Jesus in his agony in the garden. This year we can appreciate more deeply that lonely agony of Jesus as he grappled with what was happening.
This is how Eugene and his closest Oblate companion, Henri Tempier, spent that night in 1816.
Briefly put. Father Tempier and I felt that we should not delay any longer, and on Holy Thursday (April 11, 1816), when both of us had taken our place under the structure of the beautiful repository we had erected over the main altar of the Mission church, in the night of that holy day, we pronounced our vows with an indescribable joy. We enjoyed our happiness throughout this beautiful night, in the presence of Our Lord.
Rambert I, p. 187
This time of reflection recalled the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane at prayer while struggling to live the events taking place at that moment. The “not what I want, but what you want” (Mark 14:36) of Jesus to the Father became the commitment to the “not what I want, but what you want” of Eugene and Henri Tempier to the Father – and consequently the key to understanding the meaning of self-giving – which we know as “oblation.”
As we meet in the Garden of Gethsemane today, let us be united with one another in giving each other strength as we struggle in our aloneness. (“Oraison”)
Let us also be conscious of the courageous oblation of those who are caring for the sick and the dying, and of those providing us with “essential services” that make our daily lives possible. As we keep watch with Jesus and St Eugene in Gethsemane, let us pray for these ministering angels and let us become ministering angels to one another.
“If we are to share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves, we also have to realize that every person is worthy of our giving. Not for their physical appearance, their abilities, their language, their way of thinking, or for any satisfaction that we might receive, but rather because they are God’s handiwork, his creation. God created that person in his image, and he or she reflects something of God’s glory. Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives. Jesus offered his precious blood on the cross for that person. Appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love. Consequently, if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life. It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people. We achieve fulfilment when we break down walls and our heart is filled with faces and names!”
Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 274