The initial struggle against the liberals was about defending the freedom of education in which Eugene declared:

I find myself like a lion who feels all his vigor, his strength and his courage…

Letter to Henri Tempier, 24 June 1828, EO VII n 304

Eugene knew that this was only a first step of the attacks on the French Church, and thus it was essential to have people well prepared to cope. For the Oblates, he had anticipated the necessity of having men who were solidly formed and whose commitment to Jesus Christ would give them the vision and strength to be like lions for the values of God and the Church. A solid Oblate formation was essential:

We have a very strict novitiate. If men are judged unfit for religious virtues, they are simply sent away. Thus it is an established fact that the small number who persevere are really called.
If divine anger has a new persecution in store for us, I think that those who have been prepared there in the secret of God’s house and who will have imitated the Apostles in their self-sacrifice, will not be the least faithful and will console us for the defection of a great number which we can expect.

Letter to Bishop Miollis of Digne, 10 March 1828, EO XIII n. 65


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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Preparation. It was through AA that I was formed in ‘letting go’ of everything so that I could get and stay sober, in a word so that I ‘could live’. Not ‘running from’ something so much as ‘running towards’ another. And then after my own conversion experience returning to the Church and going to stay (like an extended visit) at Madonna House – again to be formed anew and to become more deeply immersed in love. Again the need to let go of all the extraneous in my life – not to be deprived but rather so that I could concentrate on what really mattered without having to spend so much time wading through clutter and distractions.

    Eugene could be so very adept at reading the signs of the times and seeing the road that was opening before all of them – in France and further. He was preparing his sons for what was to come. His experience of what seems to continue to happen throughout time and around the world. So what is my formation, as an Oblate Associate, as a member of the Mazenodian Family preparing me for?

    I look for a moment at the Apostles and two come to mind – Peter and Judas both of whom were formed but of the two Peter seemed to throw himself in at the deep end. Both of them denied Jesus but Peter was the one who came back, again and again. Formation, preparation for what is to come, to walk through whatever the fires and struggles will look like. I choose to try to be more like Peter, more like St. Eugene.

  2. Patrick M McGee, OMI says:

    I think I’ll have that matted and framed for my office at the novitiate! Thanks, Frank!

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