OUR MISSIONS ARE FEATS OF STRENGTH

At the end of the mission in Fuveau, Eugene wrote to his friend, Forbin Janson:

It was impossible, my beloved brother, to reply to the letter which you last wrote to me. I was on a mission and our missions leave us no time to eat or sleep. They are feats of strength.

Letter to Forbin Janson, 9 October 1816, O.W. VI n. 14

Henri Tempier’s memoirs show why this was the case:

This mission was difficult and hard on us, be it because of the heat of a season not that had not yet lessened, be it because of the work with the men, who were nearly all employees of the coal mines and could only come to confession at night, after their evening meal, be it because the people of the two neighbouring parishes, who had been without a priest for a long time, came to us to hear God’s Word and make their confession…
Everybody, men and women, came already in the first days to go to confession. We could never leave the church before midnight and in the morning the service was to start at three-thirty. It was next to impossible to keep that up. To be able to cope with the huge workload, we ended up telling the people of Gréasque and Saint-Savournin [ed. the two neighbouring parishes] that after the closure two of us would come to them and help them share in the benefits of the mission. The fruits of the mission were abundant.

Memoires of Henri Tempier, Oblate Writings II, 2 Various Writings n.1

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2 Responses to OUR MISSIONS ARE FEATS OF STRENGTH

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    On reading this today I am reminded of a something I read recently in a Bible Study of Mark’s Gospel. It is the story of the women who has been ill for 12 years and who finds the courage to touch the hem of the garment Jesus is wearing. And how Jesus knew immediately that although he was in the midst of a crush of people around him, he knew that someone had touched his garment, the edge of his garment, it was deliberate and what that had taken out of himself. It would be the same somehow I believe for us, when we give of ourselves, it is a real “giving” of ourselves, of our energy, of our love. And that is why we often find ourselves needing to go and be with others who will love us and fill us, we go to be refreshed and renewed, to be nourished.

    I look at the constant and endless giving of the missions that these men gave, particularly this one as described by Eugene himself in his writings and by Henri Tempier. Almost a ‘double whammy’ and they could not have done it without their community, without each other and it goes without saying, without God. They even had to promise to go to the neighboring parishes of Gréasque and Saint-Savournin at the end of the mission so as to be able to offer all to those people. A few hours of sleep and then up for prayers to prepare for the day. I am amazed. What the fire of love can enable us to do!

    This is where I look and recognize love, this is where I look and see the cross, this is where I look and find the Cooperators of Christ. And this is where I must take the time to look at my own life. There are days when I do not count the effort, or the hours. But that is not the norm. I want to say here and now that we are not all called to be modern day “Eugenes” or Henri Tempiers, or any other the others. But I don’t really believe that. There is in here the thought that I personally need to give, without measure and that requires at least a measure of trust, of daring risk. I will not negate the goodness and the measure that I live, but at the same time I must remember that I need to truthfully and trustingly allow myself to be used by God, as God wishes. God will not “mis-use” me. I may just have to be honest enough to listen to my community, my family, my loved ones, God may be speaking through them. And therein lies my strength, not with myself, but like those early Oblates, and many of them today, it is with my community, my family, my loved ones, with each other.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am not sure why but this is somehow appropriate for today. I did not go to Mass today – the pain is too distracting when I sit and I spend a lot of time having to move and change positions. And I did not want to, I needed it I am sure but I think now I might have taken the easy way out. In truth I feel a bit of a fraud every time I say no to a request to do something. I who have ‘done’ all of my life now feel inadequate because I have been told not to do, to just be. It scares me more than anything else- to not do. Then how can I be of any value. I would have thought I was long past this but find as I peel away the layers it there stronger than ever. Of what use am I- even to God. Even to God. To sit here an empty shell of a person (that is how I feel) with nothing to offer – scary because what it that is true- that would take me back to pre-God-loves-me days and that is not to be beared. Do I sit and wait in hope for his to fill me? I thought that I had done that – I thought that he had done that. I seem not to be capable at this time of seeing the truth. Ahhhh – that is why perhaps I did not go to church. I do not want others to see my struggle- that is a truth. I don’t want others to see how empty I feel- that is also a truth. And as I write this I find myself silently asking ‘of what value am I?’.

    This speaks to the question of who am I to God? In God? I know that I am beloved but I do not ‘feel’ it. Is that enough?

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