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.

The altar referred to today was originally in Aix, but is now in Rome.

“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

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    In my parish there is a hymn that we typically sing on Holy Thursday during the Washing of the Feet which both the Presider and the congregation at large take part in. The Song of the Lord’s Command by David Haas: Song of the Lord’s Command. “Do you know what I have done for you…”

    Holy Thursday when we are reminded of the Last Supper, and of those who sat at the table with Jesus; were we there and where did we sit? I have always wanted to be in the place of the Beloved Disciple with my head and my ear on His breast, hearing the beating of his heart.

    And then Gethsemane… Frank’s invitation and inspiration as to how we can join Jesus in the garden. I find myself saying that I want the old way – the pre-pandemic way which was free of lockdown and distancing, free of masks, where choirs sang and hugs were shared as we all came together in the same place. Oraison. “Do you know what I have done for you…”

    Do we dare to join Jesus in the garden and be with him? To join Eugene and Henri Tempier and all the members of our Mazenodian Family who are there just inside an open door and all we have to do is walk through it? This will not be a passive watching on a screen but rather an active taking part, with our hearts and beings fully engaged. Do we dare to join Jesus, Eugene and Tempier and all who we love as we experience our “not what I want, but what you want” (Mark 14:36)

    There is a part of me that is terrified and yet the invitation will not be pushed aside. “Do you know what I have done for you?”

    Today we will find out not if we are entering into lockdown but when. This may be the only way that I can join with all of you to celebrate and live the Triduum. “It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people.”

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