“In the prolonged silent prayer we make each day, we let ourselves be molded by the Lord, and find in him the inspiration of our conduct” (OMI Rule of Life, 33).
The practice of Oraison was an important part of St. Eugene’s daily prayer during which he entered into communion with the members of his missionary family. While they were all in France it was easy for them to gather in prayer at approximately the same time. When Oblate missionaries started to be sent to different continents it was no longer possible to pray at the same time, yet each day there was a time when they stopped and prayed in union with one another – even though not at the same time.
This is a practice that Eugene wanted the members of his religious family to maintain. This is why you are invited to take part in this practice of Oraison on Sunday, February 16, 2020, as we remember the anniversary of the approval of the Oblate Constitutions and Rules.
The papal approbation of February 17th, 1826 was an act of discernment of the Church, recognizing that the inspiration that Eugene had received had indeed come from God. For ten years this small group of missionaries had survived by their founding vision, surviving hardships, persecution, defections and near-extermination, and yet never giving up. They believed that their vocation came from God, that their ideal was God-inspired and that their mission to the most-abandoned was God-given. The discernment of the Church confirmed this and injected new life and vigor into them. It is an injection of divine life that continues to propel the Mazenodian Family.
(Photograph taken in Baja California, Mexico where the Mazenodian Family continues the mission of St. Eugene. The picture reminds us of the Oblate missionaries who crossed the seas to bring the Gospel to those in need.)
“As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth. I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” John 17:18-21
Some years later Eugene reflected on the meaning of that day on which it has always been customary for Oblates to renew their vows:
Anniversary of the approval of the institute by the Holy See… The second renewal prescribed by the Chapter was carried out immediately afterwards, in my presence, by all the priests and oblates [ed. Eugene always referred ot the scholastics as “oblates”]. The novices were present at the ceremony…. Once one has made one’s renewal kneeling down before the exposed Blessed Sacrament with candle in hand, one remains standing in a circle around the altar.
What was special and I could not help remarking on it in the few words I usually deliver on days like this, was that it was from the foot of the altar that they were going out for fresh conquests, those same men who had come to lay there their acts of thanksgiving for the wonderful successes of the missions they had just accomplished. What blessings in fact had they gathered in the missions, which have just finished in Fontvieille and Entraigues! The Lord will accompany his envoys to Maussane and Mane, and he will bless their labors as he has always blessed all those we have undertaken in his name. (Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 17 February 1837, EO XVIII)
We too are invited each day to bring our daily successes to the Savior and to renew our trust in his presence to accompany us in our difficult moments.