HAVE A LITTLE MORE CONFIDENCE IN THE LORD, MY DEAR FATHER

The scholastics were always referred to as “the Oblates” since 1816, even before the whole Congregation received this name ten years later. In their studies and formation for the priesthood they had been moved around to various places in the 27 years of our existence: Aix en Provence, Laus, Marseilles, and then for a year to Notre Dame de L’Osier.  Now the time had come to give them a more permanent home in Marseilles. Eugene noted this in his dairy.

Letter to Fr. Guigues to summon all the Oblates to Marseille so that they may do all their theological and philosophical studies there.

 Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 1 October 1843, EO XXI

Father Guigues and the local community were upset at this decision because these young scholastics brought life and vitality to the Marian Shrine. It would remain as the novitiate.

Have a little more confidence in the Lord, my dear Father. When the Oblates shall have gone from L’Osier, new novices will be coming to replace them. You realize that it was only circumstantial that they remained at L’Osier last year; that situation could not have been a permanent one. Without any regret I call both the philosophers and the theologians to come here…

All of our Oblates will come to study both their philosophy and their theology at my seminary here in Marseilles. Everything is ready to take them in, let them come as soon as possible.

Letter to Fr. Bruno Guigues, 2 October 1843, EO X n 816

Father Henri Tempier would be their formation director. With his scholastics in his city, Eugene was able to have regular contact with them and share the spirit of his charism and his missionary zeal with them. He continues to do this today for the members of the Mazenodian family as we study his life and writings and imbibe his spirit.

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THE HOLY SPIRIT POURED OUT ABUNDANTLY ON THE NEW OBLATE THE ANOINTING OF ITS GENEROUS GIFTS

Leonard Baveux was a 47 year-old Sulpician priest ordained in 1828. His meeting with the Oblates in Montreal led him to discover that he was called to missionary life and he joined them. On August 2 he had made his lifetime commitment through his perpetual oblation, and he had written to Eugene about it. Eugene noted this in his Diary:

Letter from Father Léonard the day following his profession. He proclaims, with the most touching expression, the happiness which he experienced. The bishop of Montreal addressed a very paternal discourse to him; the bishop of Kingston was also present at this wonderful ceremony. The chapel was filled with friends and parish priests. A Jesuit Father was also present. The tears of our Father Léonard made them flow from the eyes of all those present.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 19 September 1843, EO XXI

Then, in a letter to the Bishop of Montreal, Eugene referred to the Bishop’s role in the oblation ceremony.

I have just received a letter from the good Father Leonard. He wrote it to me the day after his profession. Oh, what a consolation it gave me to hear about everything that happened on that beautiful morning. It seems that the Holy Spirit poured the anointing of his generous gifts on the new Oblate. I can judge it from the letter of this fervent religious.

But, Bishop, after having testified my gratitude to the Lord, I cannot stop from expressing to you how touched I am by your fatherly concern for my dear children who are certainly yours. The words you address to them in these circumstances, proving to them how good you are to them, do them incalculable good. How happy they are to have a father like you! I am therefore not worried about them being so far away from me. It is just as if I were with them.

Letter to Bishop Bourget of Montreal, 1 October 1843, EO I n 26

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YOU CANNOT BELIEVE HOW MUCH PLEASURE I DERIVE FROM ANYTHING THAT REMINDS ME OF THE CHILDREN THAT GOD HAS GIVEN ME.

Separated by the Atlantic Ocean from his Missionaries in Canada, Eugene was constantly united to them in thought and in oraison prayer. Father Dandurand had sent him a sketch of the house where the Oblate community was established.

I thank you, my dear Father Dandurand, for the sketch that you have sent. It gives me an adequate idea of the place inhabited by so dear a portion of my family. It fills this gap of time while I wait for you to prepare a picture done with care that I can have framed and hung in my study. You cannot believe how much pleasure I derive from anything that reminds me of the children that God has given me.

The Founder’s love for his children was much more than a human emotion. He loved his oblates because they were living by the charism that God had given the Congregation. He rejoiced because of the way in which they loved Jesus the Savior and made an oblation of theor lives to bring the most abandoned to the same love. He now reminded them of the conditions necessary to maintain this relationship.

Let all be intent on making our community very fervent. Fidelity to the Rules, exact discipline, charity, mutual support, goodwill in doing promptly and willingly all that obedience demands, these are the virtues to practice which makes religion a true paradise on earth. I know that you understood this from the moment you entered the Society and I rejoice about this in the Lord while blessing you with all my heart.

Letter to Father Damase Dandurand, 11 August 1843, EO I n 23

Today, through the communion of saints, Eugene continues to pray for “his children” – all the members in all the categories of his Mazenodian family who continue to love Jesus our Savior and to make him known to those who need him most.

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I SEE SOME DIFFICULTY IN THE PURCHASE OF A COW

I usually focus on the more spiritual extracts of the writings of St. Eugene. Apart from running a huge diocese, a missionary Congregation and its activities, he also gave his opinion on mundane activities!

My dear son, Father Tempier has not yet returned from a short trip he had to take. I will therefore answer the letter you have just written to him. I am perfectly in agreement that you should get rid of your horses. I do not see why you should deprive yourselves of 600 francs of income that would result from renting out your meadow for the pleasure of pasturing two nearly useless animals…

I see some difficulty in the purchase of a cow. This animal would eat up your hay, and you would be deprived of the income from your meadow. Truly your land needs enriching; but besides doing this by having a few pigs whose sale pays back for the expenses they cause. I think it would be easy to buy manure in the countryside. However, it would be a good thing to have a goat to furnish milk for those Fathers who might need it.

Letter to Father Etienne Semeria in Vico, Corsica, 24 August 1843, EO X n 813

Reminds me of the great mystic, St Teresa of Avila, who said that she found God among the pots and pans in the kitchen.

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IT WILL SERVE AS THE UNIFORM WHICH CONSTITUTES US EXTERIORLY AS MARY’S ELITE TROOPS

Eugene’s diary entry notes:

It is appropriate to recount here the privilege granted to our congregation by our Holy Father Pope Gregory XVI, in regard to the scapular or little habit of the Holy Virgin, decreed by the general chapter of 1837.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 20 August 1843, EO XXI

The 1837 General Chapter had asked that a cloth scapular of the Virgin Mary be given to every Oblate on the day of his perpetual oblation. This custom continues today, except that the cloth scapular has been replaced by a medal of Mary Immaculate.

I have had a copy made of the rescript which authorizes superiors to bless the scapulars of the Immaculate Conception which the Chapter of 1837 adopted… This hidden apparel, which will be your own, must be dear to all the members of the Congregation. It will serve as the uniform which distinguishes us from the simple servants of Mary and which constitutes us exteriorly as her elite troops. On the day of oblation, it will be blessed solemnly just like the cross and placed momentarily on the soutane of the new Oblate. After the ceremony, he will hide it under the soutane, taking care to let the two pendants fall one on the chest and the other on the shoulders.

Letter to Father Jean Baptiste Honorat, 18 August 1843, EO I n 24

The meaning of the scapular continues to be expressed today:

We shall always look on her as our mother. In the joys and sorrows of our missionary life, we feel close to her who is the Mother of Mercy. Wherever our ministry takes us, we will strive to instil genuine devotion to the Immaculate Virgin who prefigures God’s final victory over all evil. CC&RR Constitution 10

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OBLATION: WE GIVE OURSELVES TO HIM WITHOUT RESERVE AND WITHOUT CONDITIONS

Eugene continues to reflect on the meaning of the oblation of Brother Charles Baret, who has just professed his perpetual vows.

Accustom yourself, my dear son, to have confidence in the Lord, without reservation whatsoever. We must become entirely generous toward our Father who is so good and, at the same time, both so great and so powerful. There must be no reservations in the gift of ourselves to him. He knows your needs, he knows the lawful desires of your heart: that’s all that is needed. Rightfully he wants us to consider ourselves so honored, so happy to be admitted into the intimacy of his privileged disciples, that in exchange and in gratitude we give ourselves to him without reserve and without conditions… You consecrated yourself to God, to his Church, to the Congregation.

Goodbye, my dear son. In giving you my blessing for the first time, I embrace you with all my heart.

Letter to Brother Charles Baret, at Notre Dame de L’Osier, 18 August 1843

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OBLATION: THE SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, OUR COMMON MASTER, HAS RECEIVED YOUR VOWS, HAS ADOPTED YOU AND HAS MARKED YOU WITH THE SEAL THAT MAKES US WHAT WE ARE

Before making his perpetual oblation, the 18-year-old Charles Baret had written to Eugene, who responded:

You were just a novice, my dear son, when you wrote me on August 5. Today you are a child in the Congregation which justly glorifies itself in having the Most Holy Virgin Mary Immaculate as a mother.

Now you are consecrated to God for life and beyond by your oblation; and I must add in all humility but with great consolation, that thereby I have become your father. I do not know you personally; but since the affection that unites me with my children is essentially supernatural, it is enough for me to know that the Saviour Jesus Christ, our common Master, has received your vows, has adopted you and has marked you with the seal that makes us what we are, so that we are united in the most intimate bonds of charity and that I am bound to you forever as you are to me.

Letter to Brother Charles Baret, at Notre Dame de L’Osier, 18 August 1843

What a beautiful meditation on the relationship between every member of the Mazenodian Family and our Founder and Father, Saint Eugene!

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LET GOOD FATHER VINCENS REJOICE AND TURN HIS THOUGHTS ON THEM WHEN HE ENCOUNTERS SOME DIFFICULTY

It is impossible to have more generous sentiments, more perfect dedication, more thoughts that are supernatural. They are sacrificing their most natural and legitimate affections with a true joy arising from their faithfulness to and love for their holy vocation. They are convinced that they will never again see their homeland, and they would reproach themselves for any regrets they might have about it.

The Lord has given us our marching orders, they said to me; nothing else should come to mind. Truly I have a bit of difficulty to hide my emotion and admiration. These are truly disciples who honor their Master.

This is what Eugene had written admiringly about the three Oblate scholastics who were preparing themselves to go to Canada. Now he invited Father Vincens, who had been responsible for their formation, to rejoice in the fruits of his formation ministry.

Let good Father Vincens rejoice and turn his thoughts on them when he encounters some difficulty. The Lord, our divine model had many griefs from his well-loved apostles, who were so often intolerable and bothersome.

Letter to Father Bruno Guigues, 18 August 1843, EO X n 812

Those involved in Oblate formation ministry recognize that there are many difficulties that are encountered and we tend to remember the difficult times. Eugene counsels Father Vincens to remember his successes whenever he feels overwhelmed by difficulties and failures.

Ten years before, Eugene had encouraged Father Mille in similar circumstances:

They will repay what you have done for them when, come to the end of their studies, they begin to work in our Father’s vineyard; it is then you will harvest what you are now sowing. You will have a double portion in all their works and it will amply repay you for the sacrifice you are making for them.

Letter to Jean-Baptiste Mille, 21 April 1832, EO VIII n 420

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COME AND LEARN MORE ABOUT SAINT EUGENE

Daring to Listen to God’s Call

Four twenty minute videos, beginning on October 4 and you can watch at any convenient time.

Find out more »

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PAUSE UNTIL OCTOBER 4

A technical glitch regarding translations has forced us to take a break until October 4.

I invite you to revisit some of the older entries (there are 2565 to choose from)

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