200 YEARS AGO ON AUGUST 15, 1822

 “To succeed in your intentions, entrust yourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary always, but especially in moments of difficulty and darkness. ‘From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God…Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God’s Word to you will be fulfilled, and that nothing is impossible with God.’” (St. John Paul II)

We go back to 1822. In the midst of all his concerns for the survival of his newly-founded Missionary family, Eugene celebrated the feast of the Assumption. It was a day which was to leave a permanent impression on our Mazenodian family.

Eugene’s letters of 1822 have shown the many concerns and difficulties he was experiencing. Not least among these was his worry about the survival and future of his small group of Missionaries. It was in this spirit that he blessed the new statue in the chapel, which became the opportunity for a powerful life-giving insight. He immediately wrote to Henri Tempier, who was in Laus.

I believe I owe to her also a special experience that I felt today; I will not go so far as to say more than ever, but certainly more than usual.
Eugene was usually very reticent about describing his deep spiritual experiences. His “more than usual” experience was connected with the life of the Missionaries of Provence, who were experiencing external difficulties and whose future existence was in the balance.
I cannot describe it too well because it covered several things, but all related to a single object, our dear Society.

He then described the confirmation that he received that the foundation of the Missionaries had come from God and that God assured him of a solid future for this group.

It seemed to me that what I saw, what I could put my finger on, was 
that within it lies hidden the seed of very great virtues,
and that it can achieve infinite good;
I found it worthy,
everything pleased me about it,
I appreciated its rules, its statutes;
its ministry seemed awe-inspiring to me, as it is indeed.
As I looked at the Society I found in it a sure, even infallible, means of salvation.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 15 August 1822, EO VI n 86

This was the grace that the Oblate Madonna had obtained for Eugene: a God-given assurance that he was on the right track and that he needed to persevere despite all the external storms raging around him that seemed to threaten the existence of the Missionaries.

Two hundred years later we continue to reap the harvest of this boost of confidence which our Oblate Madonna “smiled” on us.

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1 Response to 200 YEARS AGO ON AUGUST 15, 1822

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Many years ago I took a “break from church”. For about two years I would go to Church only for weddings or funerals or very special occasions. When finally I decided I wanted to return I asked Mary to accompany me, to take my hand so that I could enter with her and I would ask her to sit there with me.

    And she did. As I look back I realise this was just before meeting the Oblates in a personal and life-changing way.

    “From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in things.” Yes, yes I think but I also wonder if there might be small ways that I have held back and did not let go of. The tiny niggly little doubts that seem to rise from the darkest corners of our hearts. What might I be holding onto, just in case…

    “Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God’s word to you will be fulfilled, and that nothing is impossible with God.” Yes, yes I tell myself – I know that. But, I stop and ask myself if I truly believe it. She’s seen it all, experienced it all…

    I decide to let go of the little ‘what ifs’ – if I let them rule my life, I will surely shrivel up and die. But I want to live, fully… just as God promised when he said “Eleanor, I love you…”

    This is one of those times when I must ‘walk the walk’. I choose to say yes to life, to say yes to Mary as she holds out her hand to us, to me…

    “Two hundred years later we continue to reap the harvest…” I am not alone; I am a part of something so much greater than myself on so many levels. Holding on to Mary’s outstretched hand I take small, tentative little steps than will only grow more sure with the walking.

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