(These reflections have been adapted from those published in 2021)

Former Superior General, Wilhelm Steckling OMI, wrote in 2007:

“It was probably in 1807, on Good Friday of that year, that Saint Eugene had a special encounter with the Crucified One that changed his life. It essentially made him an Oblate. What we can celebrate in 2007 is not an anniversary of the Congregation, but rather an anniversary of our charism, the spiritual gift that makes us live – an anniversary of our Oblate spirituality.

It was the cross displayed on Good Friday that made young Eugene – 24 at that time – aware of his life- style apart from God.

“I had looked for happiness outside of God and outside him I found but affliction and chagrin”, he writes a few years later (1814) during a retreat. In his emptiness he encounters someone who loves him without measure. His sins melt away amidst tears in the embrace of Christ, and this experience marks him for the rest of his life. “Can I forget the bitter tears that the sight of the cross brought streaming from my eyes one Good Friday?” “Blessed, a thousand times blessed, that he, this good Father, notwithstanding my unworthiness, lavished on me all the richness of his mercy.” The experience did not stay just inside of him. “Let me at least make up for lost time by redoubling my love for him.”

After a short time, St. Eugene wanted to share the mercy he experienced with others. Such zeal for souls finally led to the birth of the Oblates. The word “Oblates” means people ready to give themselves for the love of God.”

W. Steckling OMI, OMI Information n 462, Rome, February 2007

“Jesus on the cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it; he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the cross. Christ’s cross, embraced with love, never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.”   Pope Francis

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “In his emptiness he encounters someone who loves him without measure.” I think back to that moment when I first heard Jesus say my name, my experience of encounter with perfect and endless love Totally transformative. It was then that I began my journey as a person ready to give myself “for the love of God.” I did not know the word “Oblate” and the only way that I could phrase it at that time was to say that “I needed to give all of myself to God in love and only in that way would I be able to love everybody else.” I wanted at that time to share my experience of God so that others could experience what I was experiencing.

    Yesterday I watched a video of a couple of the Oblates in Kyiv as they processed and celebrated Passion Sunday there; the women and the elderly who had not been able to leave that city and the Oblates who chose to stay with them. And the only hint of joy I could see was in the peace and love on the face of Fr. Pavlo Vyshkoyskvi OMI as he prayed with the people that he served. A love and peace so great that it could only come from a joy deep within himself. And for the first time I understood a little of what I have witnessed in the writings of Fr. Mario Borzaga OMI. Both men ready to give themselves for the love of God.

    I think of some of the faces of those I love who have been sharing their pain in our synodal process gatherings and their sacredness as together we stood on holy ground. They too have been scapegoated and in a sense are there on the cross. It is with them that I have begun to stand at the foot of the cross. Perhaps that is how and why I am able to give myself for the love of God.

    This is what I reflect on and think of as we approach the Triduum: not something extraneous to our beings, but rather that which is intimately a part of ourselves.

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