What Eugene wrote about the Brothers holds true, where applicable, to all the vocations within the Mazenodian Family:

I reply that I have always considered it an injustice to make men, who have come to us to become religious, work from morning till evening. Surely they have to work but they must also pray and be instructed in the duties of the religious life. They are not common labourers, they cannot be treated as hired domestics who are paid so that they work the whole day. Our Brothers must be present at the oraison…

Letter to Fr. Vincens, 8 December 1842, EO IX n 783

He then lists all the times of common prayer and spiritual exercises to be attended by every member of the community.

Today, the Oblate Rule says;

Oblate Brothers share in the common priesthood of Christ. They are called to cooperate in their own way in reconciling all things in him (cf. Col 1: 20). Through their religious consecration, they offer a particular witness to a life inspired by the Gospel.

Brothers participate in the missionary work of building up the Church everywhere, especially in those areas where the Word is first being proclaimed. Missioned by the Church, their technical, professional or pastoral service, as well as the witness of their life, constitute their ministry of evangelization. (Rule 7 c)

Father Jetté, commenting on this Rule, says

“Since the beginning of the Congregation there has been a considerable change in the vocation of the Oblate Brother. Very briefly we could sum it up in these terms: from a temporal helper to the priest, the Brother has become his associate in the apostolic ministry…

The Brother is no longer considered as being first of all a man at the service of the priest, whom he thus liberates from material tasks in order to allow him to be more free to carry out his pastoral responsibilities; the Brother is rather seen as being himself an “apostolic man” who is associated to the priest and who is in his own way engaged in the work of evangelization. In this work there is a ministry proper to him that the Church through the Congregation entrusts to him: a ministry of technical, professional or pastoral service, depending on the needs of a given milieu and the aptitudes and fitness of each Brother.

Rule 3 first of all establishes the spiritual basis of the Brother’s apostolic vocation: “Oblate Brothers” — as all Christians, for that matter — “share in the common priesthood of Christ. They are called to cooperate in their own way in reconciling all things in him (cf. Col. 1:20).”

The Apostolic Man,  pages 88-89

I would take this a step further and paraphrase the same question for the whole Mazenodian Family: ” Do not such services become a -ministry- from the fact that the Associates have received a mission they are to fulfill as laity in the Church?”

This also points to the responsibility of the Mazenodian Family to ensure instruction in the charism and the opportunities for spiritual expression  and growth personally and in mission.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Glancing thoughts and moments of quiet joy as I sit with all of this. What a time to be alive!

    I am reminded of the many challenges and small fears that we face and walk through. And the immense love and joy that God lavishes upon us so that we might persevere in order to give ourselves fully to him who is the Beloved.

    Our vocations to live as we have been called – no matter our state of life; no matter where we live or if we are men or women. We have been called. I am reminded of the years since the beginning of time and the creation of this planet and all the living creatures who were planted on it. I think of the age of the Church and the many changes that it as experienced in the 2000 years since Jesus was born, lived, suffered and died on the cross and then resurrected. Change takes time before new ways are accepted by all and written into common law. We respond to the call, the invitation in our own time – not as it was in the past nor how it will be in the future, but how it is given and received in the present moment.

    These thoughts have brought me to a place where I experience small “aha” moments and glimpses of what Jesus meant we he talked about how members of the family would be divided and torn apart from each other in order to live and walk with him and follow his way. Glimmers of small insights and understandings.

    Glancing thoughts and moments of quiet joy as I recognize who and where I am as a member of the Mazenodian Family. I stop and look at the ever-changing view from my window. The sun rises and is reflected on hundreds, perhaps thousands of windows as another day comes into focus. I find myself wanting, hoping to become like these buildings; sentinels and witnesses to the glory of God as the sun rises and a new day begins.

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