On April 23, 1836 Eugene wrote a very short letter to Father Mille at Notre Dame du Laus. It consisted of only 3 lines but in a time that did not yet have such tools of communication like telephones or the internet and electronic mail he used what he had to communicate with the members of his community.
“My praises to the Lord would be doubled if, as well as the conversions effected, you had succeeded in attracting some candidates to the house, It pains me to be able to reply only with refusals to the requests that come to me from all our houses, it is to wither on the vine..” (565:VIII in Oblate Writings)
It would seem that Eugene could be saying the very same thing now about the ‘lack’ of vocations particularly in North America. Here the number of overall vocations to the Oblate Community seem to lessen more and more with each year.
I do not believe that the need has disappeared but I wonder if it does not look a little different from what it did 200 years ago. Yesterday as I walked downtown to run some errands I idly wondered what it would idly look like through the eyes of Eugene if he were walking along side of me.
“As daring members of the prophetic Church, we stand with the voiceless, hearing and making heard their cry…” I need to ask myself how I live this today. I know that my parish is very involved with social justice issues – but how do I stand with the voiceless, how do I offer them my voice so they can be heard? This is not something that rubs off on me because I belong to an Oblate parish. So how do I live it?
I return to Eugene’s letter of three lines. He needed to communicate with members of his community. Again my thoughts wander – this time to the “Charism in Context” Congress from a few weeks ago. We joined in from all around the world – live via streaming. Eugene would not have envisaged such a way of being able to join together when he wrote this short note to someone less than 200km away.
Perhaps how we live and move forward with each other is the charism in context.