FRIDAY II LENT: the happy outcome of the steps we took
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.” (Mt.21:42)
In the 1820’s the policy of the Vatican was not to grant official recognition and approval to the countless new religious congregations that were being founded after the Revolution in France. Eugene was thus overwhelmed when the Pope ignored this and gave the Missionary Oblates official approbation. He wrote to the Oblates:
Do you realise that nothing ever has been seen so astonishing as this? Those whose duty it is to deal with such matters are the first to make this remark and to be all the more surprised with the happy outcome of the steps we took, all of them inspired, directed, blessed by God, inasmuch as the policy was no longer to do anything of the sort and I, being here and pursuing my endeavor with the help of the Master of hearts, have seen many fail and not obtain what they asked for.
Eugene de Mazenod to his Oblate Family, 18 February 1826, EO VII, n. 226
O Lord, remind me to be strong and steadfast; to have no fear or dread of others, for it is you, my God, who marches with me; God will never fail me or forsake me. (cf. Dt. 31:6)
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This morning I note how greatly the scriptures give me hope – the Word of God which I have come to love so deeply.
I think of the synodal journey that we are all invited to take part in, to walk with, to listen and to share. It is not just the bishops and the clergy who might want to hang onto the way that “has always been done”: no different from many of the laity who also want to hang onto that which worked for each of us, that we got used to and made us feel good. The image of the synodal way of being: showing the people of God walking together, with the shepherd at the back of the crowd so that those who stray are gathered back into the fold and allowing the Spirit to lead the way.
“We will always be close to the people with whom we work, taking into account their values and aspirations. To seek out new ways for the Word of God to reach their hearts often calls for daring; to present Gospel demands in all clarity should never intimidate us. Awareness of our own shortcomings humbles us, yet God’s power makes us confident as we strive to bring all people – especially the poor – to full consciousness of their dignity as human beings and as sons and daughters of God.” (C 8)
It is “…you my God who marches with me, you who will never fail me or forsake me.”