So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. (John 16:22)

A commentator on today’s Gospel (John 16:20-23) reflects on several possible meanings of this anguish, and writes: “is Jesus speaking of his seeming absence in the prayer of his faithful ones, the ‘dark night of the soul’ when all satisfaction is denied, and God seems simply absent and hidden? Or are they all metaphors and for the difficulties of life?”(Universalis)

In the Mazenodian world, the nine days between the feasts of St Eugene and Blessed Joseph Gerard (21-29 May) are dedicated to praying for vocations to the family of St Eugene: Missionary Oblates, Associates, Cooperators, Partners, youth etc. It is an opportunity to recall all those in the Mazenodian Family who have accompanied us in our moments of darkness, who have helped us to find light and meaning and hope and strength.

St Eugene regarded himself as the father of a missionary family, and he cared for and accompanied people to discover light in the darkness of their lives. Writing to an Oblate suffering from severe depression in 1823:

Courage, my dear friend. Very great saints have been tried like you, but they became saints in spite of these circumstances because they did not cease to obey; courage, once more, my dear friend, we are all down on the floor praying for you so that you will bear this hard trial like a valiant soldier of Jesus Christ. This so amiable Master, our model, did not yield to despair in the garden of Olives; into what an agony he was plunged nevertheless! Hold on to him and fear nothing, drink the cup of his bitterness since he allows to let you share in his passion, but do not doubt that he will soon fill you with his sweetest joys. Until then you must keep your peace and obey…

At the moment of communion, tell him lovingly about all your sorrows: “O Lord I am oppressed be my security!” [Is. 38, 14]. Embrace his feet in spirit, protest that you will never separate yourself from him, that you wish to love him for ever, then take him into your heart and be not troubled about anything.

Today, whatever anguish we experience, let us hear Jesus and St Eugene say:  your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Imagine what it is to love someone so much that you allow them to turn away from your love if they so choose. Imagine what it is to love so deeply that to be apart from them is likened to losing a part of yourself, and still allowing them to walk away. But I tell myself silently – we’re talking about God here and God is God, already whole and so God does not need us. But just imagine…

    This great God, creator of all, who has always been, who is… This tender God who created each of us in the image of God… that one small thought could carry us through all of eternity in an ever deepening dialogue with our Love…

    I think for a moment of God needing our love in return – no perhaps needing is not the right word. Desiring, welcoming, rejoicing in… Beloved!

    It is from within this light that I look at Eugene’s message to his friend who is struggling… When a love is so great that it surpasses all, carrying us into a new light.
    “…drink the cup of his bitterness since he allows to let you share in his passion …that he will soon fill you with his sweetest joys”

    I look for a moment at the crucifix hanging on my wall – it appears different somehow; perhaps because I see it differently, with a new depth and understanding. I think of my Oblate, my Mazenodian brothers and sisters who accompany me, who I accompany – an ever-growing ‘we’. During these 9 days of novena, with our prayers for more to join us. All so that we might rejoice with God in each other.

    This morning I feel as if I have received a kiss on my heart, my heart beat joining the heart beats of others as our day begins, as we are sent out to serve one another and all those we come upon.

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