The system in the communities at the time of the Founder was that the superior had a community member known as his admonitor who would help the superior by giving him advice and pointing out mistakes. In Eugene’s life, Fr Tempier was his admonitor and did not refrain from pointing things out to Eugene. In Nancy, Fr Dassy was 40 and all his community members were in their 20’s and inexperienced. Because the Oblate Rule demand an admonitor, one of these youngsters had to be appointed to that role.

Eugene concluded that Fr Dassy would have to fulfil the role of being his own admonitor, and therefore had to be more conscious and reflective on his own behavior as he did his daily personal examen.

I must speak frankly with you: I consider it a very awkward necessity that I am obliged to withdraw Father Santoni from Nancy, because you are going to find yourself at the head of a community composed of young priests, so that you have no one who can make the least feedback to you, and that is a misfortune. So you will have to make your examen with more attention than in the past. I would advise you to make a particular effort at foresight; in that way you will become your own admonitor and you will fill in for what will not be done by a man whom I must name but who according to all appearances will be your admonitor in name only.

Letter to Fr Toussaint Dassy, 14 October 1848, EO X n 989


We no longer have admonitors today, but all Christians are encouraged to learn from guides and examples on our journey. The daily awareness examen is also important and beneficial. (An internet search brings up many Jesuit sites explaining this practice)

“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him correctly.” (Blaise Pascal)

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate Associate says:

    It takes immense courage and absolute trust in God that God, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit will always be there to listen and guide us as we move on our journey of life. (The Trinity itself would provide a series of reflections that we might only be able to explain/describe by saying that God is like…)

    My own experience of a good admonitor/spiritual director/spiritual accompaniment is one of being accompanied, walking with, able to speak the truth about one’s self even and often finding myself being challenged and experiencing humility. It is a relationship in which both are invited to go deeper, becoming gifts to each other.

    For myself, it can be an experience of recognizing my own self, and once my thoughts become a spoken reality I will need time to reflect my life’s experiences in the light of what I have said. It can be draining and momentous at the same time and it often takes time to realize and accept. All the while continuing the work and way of being that God has created us to be, along with how we have been “sent out” to love and serve.

    As I share this my mind remembers an experience of 40 years ago when I was staying/visiting Madonna House. Above each doorway, written in chalk were the words “God is First, you are Second and I am Third”.

    I first learned about this way of being when I joined AA 45 years ago. I knew that I could not do this (attain sobriety) on my own. Knowing and admitting to one other person the exact nature of my faults/sins/weaknesses…

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