Friday, 16 March 2012

NOTA BENE: DRESSING HIS MISSIONARIES FROM HEAD TO TOE by Frank Santucci

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“It is only after having dressed his missionaries from head to foot in this solid armor of virtue that Bishop de Mazenod allows himself to say to them: then, full of confidence ….”

YENVEUX, A. Les saintes Règles de la Congrégation des Missionnaires Oblats de Marie Immaculée d’après les écrits, les leçons et l’esprit de Mgr. C.J.E. de Mazenod,
Paris, 1903, vol. 1, p. 17

To answer the question as to what the Missionary must do in order to become an apostolic man – a co-operator of the Savior, Eugene spells out the “virtues and examples of our Savior Jesus Christ” that they must “strive to imitate:”

We must work seriously to become saints, walk courageously in the footsteps of so many apostles who have left us such fine examples of virtue in the exercise of a ministry to which, like them, we are called to;

renounce ourselves totally,

maintain in view exclusively the glory of God, the building of the Church, the salvation of souls;

renew ourselves constantly in the spirit of our vocation;

live in a habitual state of self-denial and

in an unremitting determination to achieve perfection,

working unstintingly to become humble,

gentle,

obedient,

lovers of poverty,

repentant,

mortified,

detached from the world and our families,

brimming with zeal,

ready to sacrifice our goods, our talents, our rest, our persons and our lives for the love of Jesus Christ, the service of the Church and the sanctification of our neighbor.

One of Eugene’s early biographers, Alfred Yenveux, describes this passage as being dressed “from head to foot in this solid armor of virtue” – in the impenetrable metal coat of armor worn by soldiers. Eugene concludes with a call to oblation, using the military vocabulary of St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, with which he was very familiar:

Then, filled with confidence in God, we must enter the lists and fight unto death for the greater glory of God.

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One, §3. Nota Bene.

Missions, 78 (1951) p. 16

The vocabulary of this list of virtues was in keeping with the current teaching he had received at the seminary. Perhaps if he were writing today, I believe that Eugene’s vocabulary would have been closer to the following list of virtues, because this is the spirit of the above list:

Being poor in spirit… gentle… mourning… hungering and thirsting for justice… being merciful… pure in heart…  peacemakers… persecuted in the cause of uprightness…”  Matthew 5:3-12

“Once again we understand the importance of staying with Jesus, not so much to imitate certain words or to pick some phrases, but to identify oneself with his way of life, his way of acting, so as to witness to it and to repeat it in the same way. That is how Jesus prepared his own and how he continues to prepare all those in the Church who are called to stay permanently with the Lord.”     C.M. Martini

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