Once a week, on Sundays, the sermon and avis were used to give a summary of all the instructions of the previous week. In this way the people were kept focussed on the directions which the missionaries were proposing to them as guidelines for their lives.

After the Gospel, sermon which should always be a résumé of the week’s instructions. One must hold interest by being orderly and speedy. It is impossible to include all the morning and evening instruction; a choice has to be made according to greater importance and usefulness.

Diary of the Marignane Mission, 24 November 1816, O.W. XVI

I see this text as an invitation today in our Oblate parishes and ministries – which are meant to be centres of permanent mission – to ask ourselves whether we have an overall pastoral plan in our preaching for a period of time. Do those who listen to us understand the journey we are accompanying them on, or does our approach change every Sunday according to our own changing moods and inspirations?

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I find this to be very strong and hope filled. Two years after it was written and yet it holds so true today. “….our Oblate parishes and ministries – which are all meant to be centres of permanent mission ….” Amidst talk of and speculation of “turning [this] parish over to the diocese because our work is done” so as to move on to another mission I find these words incredibly reassuring, perhaps because I do not often hear of the “centres of permanent mission”. I shall think on this part through the day ahead, perhaps days for there is so much in just those words.

    “Do those who listen to us understand the journey we are accompaying them on ….” Wow the imagery with that question hits home in so many ways and I think that for me that one question applies in so many ways – back and forth. Why did these words not jump out at me two years ago? No matter, they have now and they speak volumes. Images of walking together, in relationship. They speak of ‘mutuality’, of sharing, of true relationship and love. They speak of each of us having something to offer the other, not being able to do it alone. They speak of God’s love and of it being God overall who is the designer and writer of the script. I am reminded of Eugene’s words of ‘leading us to act first as human beings, then Christians and helping them to become saints’ (paraphrasing here) – there is an implied “togetherness” here.

    I am so grateful that I am not alone, that others are walking along side of me, (or I along side of them) – as we draw closer to Christmas I find myself on the road beginning to look around me with something akin to panic – I know it is the “christmas thing”. There is impending dread and I blame myself for the old wounds that still seem to sneak up from a distant past. I seem only to be able to move ‘in spite of them’, for they refuse to be banished. There is a sense of shame that they remain still after all this time. I thank God for being able to go back and receive the message above. I thank God for this place where it is safe to face my demons and try to refocus. I wonder what Eugene would say to all of this. I have a sense of being a small child – for that is what my soul hears – ‘my child’. I am struggling and there are my wounds, but I am not alone, I can continue to move forward and through. For that I am grateful.

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