CELEBRATING OUR VOCATION TO LISTEN TO WHAT GOD IS ASKING AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

Eugene’s letter to the 27 year-old diocesan priest, Henri Tempier, is an essential foundation document for us. It contains the seeds of what is essential in our vocation.

The letter shows the fundamental starting point of the vocation of any member of the Mazenodian family: it has to flow from an experience of the love of God on the Cross. “Read this letter at the foot of your crucifix” is not a pious thought – but it is a necessary attitude: Eugene experienced God’s love for him and understood his vocation at the foot of the Crucifix. Anyone who feels called to journey with Eugene needs to have as a starting point and as a point of focus the fact of God’s love expressed on the Cross.

In his desire to live “all for God” Tempier must listen to where the voice of God is calling him to move for the glory of God and for the salvation of the abandoned people of Provence.

My dear friend, read this letter at the foot of your crucifix
with the desire to listen only to God
regarding what the good of his glory
and the salvation of souls
demand from a priest like yourself.

Henri Tempier is invited to look at the religious situation of the poorer people in Provence through the eyes of the Crucified Savior. It is an invitation to feel from the depth of his heart their experience of not having a sense of direction in their lives because God is absent.

At the foot of the Cross, symbol of the Savior who sacrificed all for others, he is invited to make a sacrifice of his own comfort so that others may have life.

This is the meaning of oblation: to look at the most abandoned with the eyes and heart of the Savior, and to respond by imitating the Savior’s self-giving so that they may have the fullness of life.

Dismiss the attraction of possessions, the love of comfort and convenience;

allow yourself to be fully penetrated by the situation of the people who live in the countryside, by the state of religion among them, by the apostasy that daily spreads wider with dreadfully ravaging effects.

Look at the feebleness of the means employed to date to oppose this flood of evil; ask your heart what it would like to do to remedy these disasters and then reply to my letter.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 9 October 1815 EO VI n 4

This invitation has continued to be repeated and echo throughout our 206-year history. Many have responded as religious, priests and laity, and their missionary generosity has made a difference to the lives of countless people around the world. As we celebrate, we give thanks and we respond with the desire to let Eugene’s call continue to echo and to make a difference.

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1 Response to CELEBRATING OUR VOCATION TO LISTEN TO WHAT GOD IS ASKING AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “My dear friend, read this letter at the foot of your crucifix with the desire to listen only to God…” these words changed my life, for when I first heard them I felt as if Eugene de Mazenod was speaking to me, inviting me to stand at the foot of my crucifix. For some years before meeting Eugene de Mazenod I used to say that my place was to stand at the foot of the cross with Jesus, looking up and seeing and living through him. I did not always understand the depth of my words, still they were my words. And now they were being said to me by another.

    I took these words of Eugene to heart and so began a new stage of my life journey and my entry into the Mazenodian, Oblate family. My heart laughs and sings with joy and gratitude as I sit with them again this morning.

    Being sent, to stand at the foot of the cross and look up through the eyes of my crucified Saviour to see the world reminded me of my conversion experience which led me to believe and state that in order to love as I felt loved I would need to give all of myself to God – then I would be able to love the world through Him.

    This morning as I share my experience of Eugene’s words I am reminded that I am not the first to stand at the foot of the cross, for in doing that I met and joined with Mary who has taught me to stand with courage and love before the cross, it is here that I sing the Magnificat with my life. Mary who has taught me to love, to go deeper and to not run away from pain and struggle. Mary our Mother…

    I am always surprised when I allow the Spirit to take my hand and lead me in my morning prayer and this morning is no different. This is the deepest reality of my life and so I join with all who make up this wondrous family as together “we give thanks, and we respond with the desire to let Eugene’s call continue to echo and to make a difference…”

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