OUR BICENTENARY: IT ALL BEGAN AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

San Clemente

Posted by frank santucci

In the Church of San Clemente, in Rome, there is a large mosaic portraying the Cross as the Tree of Life. In the center is the cross, and from its base there are leaves and stems that cover the whole scene. Linked with each stem one can see people and animals and flowers and the daily occupations of people (in the12th century). The message is clear: the Cross is THE source of life.

At the foot of the Cross we see Mary and John. I like to think of Eugene standing there with them because that picture describes the meaning of his Good Friday experience. At the sight of the Cross, a lost and unfocused young man had a life-changing intuition. He realized

I looked for happiness outside of God and for too long with resulting unhappiness.
Retreat Journal, December 1814, EO XV n.130

From now on, all the branches of his life (and later of his Missionary family) would be focused on the Tree of Life and making its fruits available for the salvation of the most abandoned.

On 25 January 1816, Eugene invited others to join him and become part of the Tree of Life: co-operators of the Savior:

They are called to be the Savior’s co-workers, the co-redeemers of mankind
1818 Rule, Nota Bene.

It is at the foot of the Cross that the Oblate family came to birth. We are a Good Friday people we are a Tree of Life family, we are missionaries inviting others to participate in the fruits of the Paschal Mystery.

The invitation of our bicentenary is to appreciate more fully that we are co-workers of the Savior. The mission of the Mazenodian Family is about salvation – the salvation of those who are in the margins, who are abandoned and unfocused:

We must lead people to act like human beings, first of all, and then like Christians, and, finally, we must help them to become saints.
Preface

“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly. We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord.” Pope Francis

(For further reflection on this, see http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=2890 and the entries that follow)

1812 : returned to Aix as a young priest and lived in the house of his mother in the centre of the city

My major occupation will be to love Him, my greatest concern will be to make Him loved

Retreat notes, December 1812, E.O. XV n. 109

1813: Beginning of his ministry among the most-abandoned. They were those who were not being touched by the structures of the Church of Aix: the youth, the prisoners, the people of Provence who did not speak French

… my whole ambition was to consecrate myself to the service of the poor and of the youth. I thus started out in the prisons, and my first apprenticeship consisted of gathering around me young boys whom I instructed. I formed a large number in virtue. I saw up to 280 grouped around me, and those who today still remain faithful to the principles that I had the happiness of instilling in their souls and who do honor to their faith in every rank of society or in the sanctuary, will uphold for a long time, either in Aix or in the other places where they are dispersed, the reputation that this congregation had rightly acquired for itself while I was able to care for it.

Diary of 31 March 1839, E.O. XX

Preface

“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly. We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord.”   Pope Francis

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