Wednesday, 14 March 2012

OMI: NOTA BENE: Example is Leadership and others by Frank Santucci, omi

Do not forget to visit:  Eugene de Mazenod speaks to us. Just a click and you are there!
The remedy to the tragic situation of the Church – and specifically to the harm done by the “laziness, indifference and corruption among the priests” -  proposed by Eugene is that of the good example of the priests. “Example is leadership,” said Albert Schweitzer – and it was difficult to find anyone more convinced of this than Eugene himself.
We recognize the familiar foundational themes that he constantly came back to: in the footsteps of the apostles, “be” in order to “do”, “all for God” etc.:
The achieving of this end will require the forming of apostles, who, after having become convinced of the necessity of their own reform: “take care about what you do,” should work with all their strength to convert others:
 ”Take great care about what you do and what you teach and thus you will save both yourself and those who listen to you” (I Timothy 4:16).
And as we have seen that the real source of the evil is the indifference, the avarice and corruption of the priests, once these abuses will have been reformed, the others will cease as well.
See to it that you have zealous, altruistic and solidly virtuous priests and soon you will bring back to the fold the people who have wandered away from their duties.
1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Nota Bene.
Missions, 78 (1951) p. 15
In 1818 he was writing this for his own Missionary priests. In 1826 this text was modified into what today we know as the “Preface” addressed to all the members of the Mazenodian family. If we want to make a difference to the 21st century, the same principles still apply: people must be able to recognize in the quality of our lives that which we preach to others.

“Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.”           Abraham Lincoln
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The Missionaries, dedicated to the process of rebuilding the post-revolution Church of France, dedicated their lives to bringing these abandoned victims of the revolution into the fullness of communion with Jesus Christ and the members of his Body. In order to be effective, it was necessary to have a clear analysis of the situation they were wanting to respond to through their ministry.
To achieve some measure of success in this holy endeavor, we must first of all seek out the causes of the depravity which is presently making men slaves of their passions.
We can synthesis them under three headings:
1. The weakening, if not the total loss, of faith.
2. Ignorance among the people.
3. Laziness, indifference and corruption among the priests.
This third cause must be considered as the main one and the root of the other two.
Eugene continues to explain why he regards the failure of the priests to live up to their ideals as the principal cause of the sad condition of the Church in France:
The truth of the matter is that for a century already, through devilish tactics, an effort has been made to undermine the foundations of religion in the hearts and minds of the people. It is truer still that the French Revolution has made an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of this iniquitous work.
Nevertheless, if the clergy had remained firmly that which they should never have ceased being, religion would have sustained the blow and not only would it have withstood this terrible shock, but it would have triumphed over all these attacks and would have emerged from the conflict even more beautiful and glorious.
Once these causes have become known, it becomes easier to apply remedies to them.
1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Nota Bene.
Missions, 78 (1951) p. 15

Example moves the world more than doctrine. The great exemplars are the poets of action, and it makes little difference whether they be forces for good or forces for evil.
Henry Miller
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In her distress, the Church, portrayed as a mother, calls out for help. Who can the Church confidently turn to for help? Surely, the very persons that she can obviously rely on with unfailing confidence are her priests.
In this lamentable state, the Church calls for help to her ministers, those to whom she has entrusted the most precious interests of her Divine Spouse,
But it is these very priests who let her down by their own corrupt behavior:
and it is the majority of those very ministers who by their reprehensible conduct aggravate even further the ills from which she suffers.
It is in this context that the Missionaries understood their vocation. When the Church, the suffering mother, calls for help to those whom she should be able to trust fully, the Missionaries need to be readily available to answer her cry of distress:
The real purpose of our Institute is to remedy all these evils, as much as possible to restore order in all this confusion.
1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Nota Bene.
Missions, 78 (1951) p. 15

“Few delights can equal the presence of one whom we trust utterly.” George MacDonald
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One can touch the intensity of Eugene’s emotions! As he reflected on the situation of the Church in France he expressed his horror at the behavior of some of the priests who were not living up to the demands of their vocation.
He then contrasted this by describing his admiration and awe at the beauty of the vocation of the Missionary. It is with this same sense of awe that he reflects on the Church:
The Church, that glorious inheritance purchased by the Saviour at the cost of all his blood
and then he looks at the other side of the situation :
has in our days been cruelly ravaged.
The Church, the Body of Christ, is the magnificent inheritance left to us by the Savior himself. But, with sorrow and pain, Eugene described the state that she has been reduced to:
This beloved Spouse of the Son of God bears him almost nothing other than monsters. The ingratitude of people is at its peak; apostasy will soon be the norm.
And except for the sacred deposit of faith which will always remain intact to the end of time, there remains of Christianity only traces of what it was, with the result that it can be truly said that, due to the malice and corruption of the Christians of our day, their condition is worse than that of the pagans before the cross overthrew their idols
1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Nota Bene.
Missions, 78 (1951) p. 15
 I wonder what Eugene would write today if he were to situate his Nota Bene in our present world? The People of God, that glorious inheritance purchased by the Saviour at the cost of all his blood, continues in our days to be cruelly ravaged… Vatican II stressed that WE are that People of God…
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Eugene is enthralled by the wonder of our vocation. It is made in heaven and is an invitation to enter into the realm of heaven by giving us the charge of being nothing less than the co-operators of the Savior!
What more sublime purpose than that of their Institute?
Their founder is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God;
their first fathers are the Apostles.
They are called to be the Savior’s co-workers, the co-redeemers of mankind
Then, conscious of the fact that they are only 6 priests and 3 scholastic seminarians at the moment, his enthusiasm cannot be contained – they have big dreams:
and even though,
because of their present small number and
the more urgent needs of the people around them,
they have to limit the scope of their zeal,
for the time being,
to the poor of our countryside and others,
their ambition should, in its holy aspirations,
embrace the vast expanse of the whole earth

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Nota Bene.
Missions, 78 (1951) p. 15
Eugene’s daily encounters with the Savior in prayer, and his Bible-rooted spirituality filled him with the confidence to have big dreams: ‘There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
He was described as having a heart as big as the world, and with his conviction he could visualize the mustard seed at growth from Aix en Provence – reaching today to all the countries of the world where the members of the Mazenodian family are present..
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”  Matthew 13:31-32

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.          C. S. Lewis

''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

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