Invitation to Fall in Love Again
May 16th, 2017
Falling in love – Something that I do often, with communities (such as my parish and of course the Oblates of Mary Immaculate), with life, and sometimes with particular things which will only add to my life and how I will live it. In this case the Constitutions and Rules of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, their “Rule of Life”.
Yes I have fallen in love with the Constitutions and Rules and each day I study and reflect on them, trying to make them my own, make them an integral part of myself.
At first when I saw those three words: “Constitutions and Rules” my whole being wanted to shut-down, to run and flee. I have never been much of a ‘rule’ kind of person. The words scared me such that I actually struggled ‘out loud’ with the person who had shared them with me. The response was a gentle one, telling me not to worry – they were just for the professed Oblates, the priests and brothers in the congregation. Thank you God I thought – the pressure is off!
But they appeared – over and over again (at least they seemed to) and so I started to look at them, read the odd one here and there especially if I was looking to make a comment on something. “Ok” I thought maybe I could sort of start at the beginning, with ”The Preface”. The language was not of my time and yet – and yet the words seem to head straight to my heart. And they were not just there for a visit – they were taking up residence!
Again “ok”. I figured I would look at them – maybe adapt them to how I wanted them to be in my life! Even as I write these words I imagine there are some of you smiling or perhaps laughing out loud. Yes, I would adapt them and even as I had those thoughts I could hear a small soft “good luck with that”.
But still I continued to experiment with them – or so I thought. I believe now though that they were pursuing me, calling to me. Frank Santucci was starting to look at the first 10 of them in his blog “Eugene de Mazenod speaks to us” and he kept referring to Fr. Fernand Jetté, OMI and his book “O.M.I. The Apostolic Man” which I had found and was slowly introducing myself to, using quotes in prayers and other pieces that I was writing. Perhaps though the biggest and most inviting influence came to me from “Eugene De Mazenod: Co-operator of Christ the Saviour, Communicates his Spirit” by Fr. Frank Santucci, OMI, and in particular the last half of that book. It was here that I discovered or came to the realization that the Constitutions and Rules were a living thing – not just some rules that might help us out. They were – they are the embodiment of St. Eugene’s Charism, they are the life-blood of the Congregation.
I found myself wanting to become imbued with them, saturate myself with them, for to do so would be to more deeply respond to God’s call to me. No more ‘adapting’ them to my way of life, or to make them more palatable, or easier to reflect on. I have always been an ‘all or nothing kind of person’, no halfway measures have ever satisfied me – so what was I thinking?
Admitting to myself and then to my spiritual director was easy. I wanted to learn/study/reflect on the Constitutions and Rules, for them to become a part of me. With that decision came immense joy and gratitude, piece and oh yes – did I mention gratitude. I asked an Oblate to walk with me on this, to mentor me and be my friend. I need to ensure that I stay honest, no adapting, no ignoring, no trying to find an ‘easier, softer way’. I needed someone to help me with what I might be missing.
And I want to share this with all of the Associates I know. Perhaps many have already done this and would contribute to what I will try to do. Wouldn’t it be grand if we could all share how we are trying to live this in our own ways throughout the world, as we are called by God and invited by St. Eugene de Mazenod!
I will begin in the fall to share it by means of a blog. I will call on and use the words of St. Eugene himself in his writings, use what has so generously been shared by the likes of Fr. Fernand Jetté, OMI, Fr. Frank Santucci, OMI and Fr. Alfred Hubenig, OMI. In truth I will share even if only one person says they want to be a part of it. My dream is to have people from all over the world, especially Oblate Associates to come and join in the reflections and sharings from our hearts and lives. My dream is to have Oblates share their hearts with all of us on this.
The Constitutions and Rules, a gift from the Spirit, and invitation from St. Eugene de Mazenod and a walking with the Oblates and Oblates Associates of Mary Immaculate. With these I continue to fall ever more deeply in love. My heart stretches even as it strengthens and gentles. This falling in love – another gift that comes from the Spirit, from our Beloved.
By Eleanor Rabnett, Provincial Associate
God bless you!