1. The Founder
  2. Eucharist in the Constitutions and Rules
  3. Eucharist in the Oblates' life experience
  4. The Eucharist in Oblate ministry
  5. Eucharist in the context of Oblate identity

The Eucharist lies at the heart of the Oblate’s life just like it lies at the heart of every Christian’s life. As source and summit of the Church’s life, it cannot be reduced to the status of a devotional practice. We must, then, grasp the meaning it has in the overall vision of the Oblate charism.

I. The Founder


Eugene de Mazenod was favored with an experience and a view of the Eucharist which constituted the foundation of his teaching to the Oblates as well as to Christians to whom he ministered as missionary and then as bishop. Put back into the context of the particular era in which he lived, they showed themselves to be rather profound and original. [1]

Indeed, during the first half of the nineteenth century, Eucharistic devotion was heavily encumbered with hypothesis. In the history of this devotion, this period is generally considered as a period of decline. It is almost the case of being a parenthetic phase inserted between the simplicity and depth of Alphonsus de Liguori’s popular devotion, which illuminated the second half of the eighteenth century, and the movement of fervor that one saw revive toward the end of the nineteenth century. From the doctrinal point of view, Jansenism had already been overcome. But in practice, in the everyday lives of the faithful, it continued to exercise considerable influence, culminating in the divorce between devotion and Eucharistic celebration, between the spiritual and the liturgical life.

Throughout his life, Eugene de Mazenod would go against this tendency. First as a missionary and then as bishop, he would exhort people to approach the Eucharist with confidence. In addition, he knew how to set Eucharistic devotion in a broader and richer perspective. [2] One cannot lose sight of the fact that the basic spiritual experience that changed his life – his encounter with Christ, the Crucified Savior – took place in the context of a liturgical event, the celebration of the Liturgy of the Cross on Good Friday. It would be in the liturgy, especially in relation to its main mystery, the Paschal mystery, that Bishop de Mazenod would gather the faithful of Marseilles. [3] His teaching, as found in his writings, was born of a personal experience which harked back to his seminary days and which matured with the passing of years. It would be especially during the celebration of the Eucharist that he would experience his most intense moments of Communion with Christ.

Even if adoration holds a place of great importance in his prayer life, it was never separated from the Eucharistic celebration itself, a celebration of which it was the natural continuation. He would teach those very same Marseilles faithful how the Eucharistic celebration was a prime occasion for identification with Christ. True devotion cannot be private or individualistic; on the contrary, it is communal and liturgical. It is, in fact, in this celebration that the common priesthood of the faithful is expressed: “The sacrifice at our altars is offered by the ministry of the priest on behalf of the Church. The people offer the sacrifice with the priest. It is through this lofty cooperation in the mystical immolation of the Man-God that the royal priesthood is exercised (1 Peter 2:9), a priesthood in which all Christian souls share through their union with Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Priest”. [4]


An attentive reading of Eugene de Mazenod’s life enables us to grasp the countless moments of encounter with Christ and to reconstruct the various stages of the spiritual journey that led him to the mystical heights of Communion with the Lord and to this identification with the One who is the end itself of the sacrament of the Eucharist. [5]

We find a first indication of this interior journey in his innate attraction for God, “a kind of instinct to love him”, he would say himself, which, from childhood, would enable him to savor the Eucharistic presence. [6]

We have to go back to his seminary days to uncover his explicit relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist, even if this relationship existed already during the years he spent in Turin and Venice. [7] By reading these personal writings and his notes as a seminarian, we can see being born in him the intense desire to enter more deeply into the mystery of the Eucharist, whose depths he is beginning to discover. He diligently records the list of his Communions, which, according to the custom of the time, he was allowed to receive. He writes down the dispositions necessary to be worthy of receiving Communion. He studies the example of the saints with a view to being enkindled with their love of the Eucharist. He seeks to receive Communion at least one time more than it was generally done in the seminary. By doing this, he was preparing himself for the day when he would be able to celebrate the Eucharist every day. [8] His relationship with his “good Master” continues in adoration, and “what an effort” it cost him every time he had to tear himself away from his “tender friend”. [9]

During this period, his frequent internal experiences in this area are reflected in his correspondence with his family. He constantly exhorts his mother, his sister and grandmother to receive Communion. While fighting Jansenist prejudices, he explains how, even in the context of the kind of social life led by his sister, one can and should live one’s Christianity. It is precisely because she lives immersed in the world that she needs to “draw the Lord’s graces more frequently from the inexhaustible source of these adorable sacraments”. He teaches her that one need not wait to become perfect before approaching the Eucharist. On the contrary, it is receiving Holy Communion often that makes one perfect. “You will never learn to love Jesus Christ worthily except in the sacrament of his love”. [10] “By frequenting the sacraments, it is then that you will become more perfect. This means is infallible”. [11]

Eugene’s union with Jesus in the Eucharist, a union which developed during his seminary days and which appears in correspondence with his family, culminated at the moment of his ordination to the priesthood. This is how he summarizes his feelings: “There is only love in my heart”. [12]

The years which followed immediately after ordination show us Eugene living a real interior dilemma. The spiritual formation he received in the seminary set in stark contrast the demands of the apostolate as opposed to those of the life of perfection. [13] It is a period of darkness, even with regard to the Eucharist. He wrote in his retreat notes: “It is rarely now that I experience, during the Holy Sacrifice, certain spiritual consolations that constituted my happiness in a time when I was more recollected; instead, I have ceaselessly to combat distractions, worries, etc”. [14] As a number of passages in his diary and the letters he wrote to Father Henry Tempier testify, his fidelity in time of trial led him to a new, more mature, relationship with the Eucharistic Jesus. One of these letters gives us a glimpse of this personal intimacy: “This morning, before Communion, I dared to speak to this good Master with the same freedom that I would have had if I had had the happiness to live when he walked on earth, and if I had found myself in the same predicament. […] I exposed to him our needs, asked his light and his assistance, and then I surrendered myself entirely to him, wishing absolutely nothing else than his holy will. I took Communion in this disposition. As soon as I had taken the precious blood, it was impossible for me to withstand such an abundance of interior consolations that it was necessary… to utter sighs and shed such a quantity of tears that the corporal and the altar cloth were saturated. No painful thought provoked this explosion, on the contrary, I was well, I was happy and if I was not so miserable, I would believe I was loving, that I was grateful”. [15]

When, in his diary, he speaks of “the great flashes of understanding and inspirations that God in his goodness deigned to grant me in the course of many years on the wonderful sacrament of our altars […]”, we are not dealing here with an exceptional event, even if he speaks of “extraordinary experiences the person of the divine Savior has often granted him”. [16]

His Communion continued on beyond the Eucharistic celebration into silent and lengthy oraison on a daily basis. There the personal intimacy is such that he is able to request graces for himself and for all the people entrusted to his care; he can ask for forgiveness of sins, the gift of to always live and die in his grace… He continues: “And what all more does one not ask for when one is before the throne of mercy, that one adores, loves, sees Jesus our Master, our Father, the Savior of our souls, that one speaks to him and that he give answer to our hearts through the abundance of his consolations and his graces? Oh, how quickly that half-hour slips by, how delightfully is it spent!” [17] This already gives us some idea of what the typical oraison spoke of by the Constitutions and Rules should be for the Oblate.


Both Eugene de Mazenod’s pastoral practice and his teaching as bishop are colored by his personal experience of the Eucharist.

From the catechetics he taught to the young people of the Christian Youth Association of Aix to the institution of perpetual adoration in the diocese of Marseilles, the Eucharist found a large place in his ministry and in that of the Oblates. [18] Eugene de Mazenod took it upon himself to prepare the youth for First Holy Communion, to carry Viaticum to the sick and to preside at Eucharistic devotions. Once he became bishop, he would continue to war against the deeply rooted prejudices stemming from Jansenism by giving Holy Communion to those condemned to death. He would invite his missionaries to act with the same openness in mission countries. He considered the Eucharist as the means par excellence to strengthen the faith of neophytes. When he learned that people had reservations about admitting Canadian Amerindians to Communion under the pretext that they were not sufficiently educated, he intervened, declaring: “Don’t you know that it is the very means of forming, of Christianizing them? Advance cautiously, granted; but to exclude them in general is too extreme”. [19]

This pastoral attitude took on a particular kind of expression in the teachings spread especially through his pastoral letters. [20] We see three major themes emerging:

– The Eucharist is at the center of the entire Christian mystery because it is Christ, himself. About this topic, he wrote: “In religion, everything culminates in the Eucharist as to the goal where God’s glory is realized and souls achieve their salvation. All the sacraments of the Church, all the supernatural gifts of God, all works of genuine piety move toward this goal where Jesus Christ himself is, the origin and culmination of our sanctification, like the crowning of our glorification, at the same time as the perfection of the external glory of God among men”. [21]

– To speak of the Eucharist is to speak of Christ at the culminating moment of his life, the moment he gives himself to us. He is, then, “in that state which is the highest expression of love”; [22] it is the synthesis of Redemption, “the Lamb of God immolated from the beginning of the world (Apocalypse 13:4) for the salvation of men. He is not only the victim, but the priest as well who offers himself and immolates himself constantly for us”. [23]

– Presence of Christ. The Eucharist exercises an effective action on the Christian by carrying out in him the fruit of Redemption, by radically transforming him to identify him with Christ himself in a “union whose value is infinite”. [24] “[Christ] willed to become our nourishment in this divine sacrament; he willed to become flesh among us to make his union with us more personal and in some way to identify ourselves with him”. [25] “In this way, the union between Creator and his creatures is, in Communion, the most perfect that could be conceived. Never, on his own, would man have thought of something like this […] it is the marvel and the masterpiece of divine love”. [26]

– Finally, by allowing every Christian to become united with Christ, the Eucharist leads all the faithful to be united among themselves. In the breaking of the bread, the Lord is the “only and genuine bond of spirits and hearts”. [27]

For Eugene de Mazenod, the unity brought about by the Eucharist is an experience which harks back to the time of his youth when, upon entering a church, he was seized by the feeling of “catholicity”, by the idea of being “a member of that great family of which God himself is Head”. [28] From that time on, the idea grew to maturity of finding all his friends, his relatives, the members of his Oblate family in “a common centre where we meet every day”. [29] The Eucharist becomes for all Oblates the “living centre which serves as our means of communication”. [30] From then on, for the Founder, this became a habit during oraison to call to mind his sons, person by person, [31] and in this way to pray for each one in particular. [32] Then, too, he invites all Oblates to be faithful to the meeting place of oraison before Jesus in the Eucharist in order to meet each other. [33] To his mother, he wrote: “Let us often look for one another in the heart of our adorable Master […] it is the best way to bring us together, for, as we each of us find our common identity in Jesus Christ, we become but one thing with him, and through him and in him we become one thing with one another”. [34]

The Eucharist in the Constitutions and Rules


Eugene de Mazenod passed on his Eucharistic experience in the Constitutions and Rules. Three articles defined Oblate Eucharistic devotion in a special way: 299 dealing with the celebration of Mass; 254 dealing with evening oraison, and 257 treating of visits to the Blessed Sacrament.

From this point of view, the text which has been most sustaining for Oblate life is certainly article 299: “Priests shall live in such a way that they can worthily offer the Holy Sacrifice every day”. [35] As Father Reslé wrote in his commentary on the Rule, it is a text which sets forth “briefly, clearly and vigorously” for the Oblates his law of life and his priestly mission. [36] Commentators have insisted on two points: daily celebration of Mass and the necessity of leading a life which allows one to worthily celebrate the Eucharistic mystery.

The first point – daily celebration of Mass – was not something taken for granted in the Founder’s day. A number of priests were not in the habit of celebrating every day. The code of Canon Law of 1917 was still reminding priests of their obligation of celebrating the Eucharist several times a year (pluries per annum, Canon 805). The biographies of Eugene de Mazenod and he himself in his diary and letters relate the sacrifices and privations he was compelled to impose upon himself, especially when he was traveling, to respect the obligatory Eucharistic fast.

In his acts of visitation of the province of England, he wrote about this topic: “Never abstain from saying your Mass, whatever pretext may present itself: the wrong which you would do to yourself and to the Church, the glory which you would withhold from God, and all the other reasons which you know, and which it is useless for me to adduce here, oblige me to make this a duty of conscience for you. To act otherwise, would be to depart entirely from the spirit of our Institute, and from what has been constantly practised in it. […] Let us not forget, my beloved Friends, that you are called to engage with the ‘strong one who is armed’, in one of his formidable strongholds, and that you need nothing less than the strength of God Himself, to triumph over this powerful enemy. And whence will you draw the strength, but from the Holy Altar, and from Jesus Christ your Head?” [37]

The second point to have been a source of inspiration for the Oblates is the quality of life demanded to celebrate the Eucharist: “[They] shall live in such a way that they canworthily offer the Holy Sacrifice every day”. This is the source of the requirement of weekly confession (article 300), the exact observance of the rubrics, a celebration of the Eucharist in which one allots all the time necessary (article 301-302), preparation for Mass and thanksgiving (articles 303-304). But the Oblates have especially seen in these texts the depth of the interior life demanded of them to conform their lives to Christ, priest and victim.

The second instance of characteristic Oblate Eucharistic spirituality during the day is that of evening oraison: “Mental prayer will be made in common twice a day – in the morning, […] and in the evening, in the church, before the Blessed Sacrament […]” (article 254). There is no reason to speak here of the method of oraison. Nevertheless, we can highlight two aspects that relate to our theme: Oraison should be made before the Blessed Sacrament and in common.

The third instance is that of the daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament (article 257) to which one can add the customary visit to the Blessed Sacrament before leaving the house and upon returning home (article 81, 336).

At the outset, evening oraison was considered as a continuation of the visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Indeed, in the manu of the 1818 Rule, we read: “[…] and in the evening, gathered around the altar, by way of a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, for half an hour”. [38] Based on his own experience, the Founder always considered it essential to spend this period of prayer in the presence of the Eucharist. In a letter to Father Delpeuch in 1856, he wrote: “I consider it absolutely necessary to set up a chapel inside the house where the Blessed Sacrament can be kept. It is essential that our evening oraison be made in the presence of our Lord, and we must have the facility to visit Him often during the day. All of this is not possible if we are obliged to betake ourselves to a public church”. [39]

Oraison takes place, not only before the Blessed Sacrament (and not in one’s room as in the case of Ignatian meditation), but also in common, as an act of the entire community. This points to a clear perception of the ecclesial dimension of the Eucharistic mystery. As we have seen in Eugene de Mazenod’s experience, the Eucharist is the gathering place where all Oblates dispersed throughout the world meet. It creates community. Father Joseph Fabre gives this aspect considerable prominence when, in his commentary on this article, he writes that prayer in common constitutes “a priceless benefit; the Savior told us: Ubi sunt duo vel tres congregati in nomine meo, ibi sum in medio eorum. [For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them] Matthew 18:20).” [40]

As we have seen, Eugene de Mazenod taught us how to pray before the Blessed Sacrament: adoration, gestures of love, praise and thanksgiving; contemplation of the mysteries of Christ who transforms himself into a source of inspiration for our own life; petitions for favors for the Congregation, the Church, persons to whom we are sent; discernment in our own spiritual journey and our ministry.

There are no lack of allusions to the Eucharist in the Constitutions and Rules. In particular, it leaves its stamp on the mission. Before taking their departure, missionaries will receive the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament along with the rest of the community. [41] While they are traveling and they pass through a town or village, they should go to the church to offer adoration, and when they are unable to stop, “they will make up for it by addressing from afar their prayers to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament”. [42] They open the mission with the exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. [43] The visiting of families is preceded by a visit to the Blessed Sacrament “to commend to this important action to Our Lord Jesus who can greatly influence the success of this mission”. [44] Finally, it is on one’s knees before Him that the Office is recited all during the mission. [45]


The articles of the Constitutions and Rules on the Eucharist remained practically unchanged until the 1966 edition in which some important changes occurred in this respect as well as in many others. The Council had hardly released the new wind of liturgical life in the Church by setting the Eucharistic solidly back in the heart of the liturgy. Following almost literally the Council’s text, article 49 of the Constitutions and Rules of 1966, in strict dogmatic form, gives prominence to the eminent role the Eucharist should play in the task of personal sanctification of the individual Oblate, in his apostolic action and in his fraternal relations with the people to whom he is sent. We have to deal with a text where the most secure and most orthodox theological data must serve as basis and sustenance for Oblate life in its personal, communitarian and apostolic dimensions. [46]

In the 1966 text, there is still mention of the visit (R 115) and of oraison before the Blessed Sacrament, even if the communitarian dimension is overlooked (R 110). Nevertheless, there is a substantial change with regard to the previous Rule which reveals itself in a new style of spiritual life centered on prayer life in the liturgy. As has been very accurately noted: “The Founder’s spirituality is that of his times, troubled times, but less frenzied than ours. The exercises of piety that the Constitutions and Rules suggest for the purpose of developing a deep personal relationship with Christ and to nourish apostolic fervor are less easily able to be observed in their qualitative integrity – with the exception of those Oblates who are retired or who are in formation. The majority of Oblates involved in the active life are unable to carry out all these preions. On the other hand, their priesthood is exercised in eminent fashion daily in the liturgy: the Eucharist and recitation of the Divine Office. To develop among the Oblates of our age an enlightened liturgical piety seemed the way to go to avoid under-nourishment of the spiritual life brought on by an almost unavoidable overwhelming workload”.

“Ascetical practices and spiritual effort need to be maintained: meditation, oraison, particular examen, fasting, retreats; indeed, the spiritual life is not limited to participation in the liturgy (SC 12). Nevertheless, that same Council recommends that piety and non-liturgical observances ‘be brought into harmony with the liturgy [in such a way] as to flow from it in some way and to return to it […] because, by its very nature, liturgy is far superior to them’ (SC 13). In this way, one can assure unity of the Oblate spiritual life and its greatest possible fruitfulness”. [47]


The Constitutions and Rules of 1982 take up once again the new perspective of the 1966 text, while integrating into it some traditional elements. For example, article 299 of the first rule, abolished in 1966, is entirely restored. Article 33 of the present Constitutions and Rules provides us with a synthesis that is marvelous in its richness: “The Eucharist, source and summit of the Church’s life, is at the heart of our life and action. We will live such lives as to be able worthily to celebrate it every day. As we participate in its celebration with all our being, we offer ourselves with Jesus the Saviour; we are renewed in the mystery of our cooperation with him, drawing the bonds of our apostolic community ever closer and opening the horizons of our zeal to all the world. In gratitude for this great Eucharistic gift, we will seek the Lord often in his sacramental presence”.

This article brings out various elements.

– The central place held by the Eucharist in the life of the Church of which it is the source and summit. Suffice it to recall the teaching of the Second Vatican Council from which the Rule draws its inspiration: “[…] The Eucharist appears as the source and the summit of preaching of the Gospel: […] For in the most blessed Eucharist is contained the entire spiritual wealth of the church, namely Christ himself our Passover and our living bread, who gives life to people through his flesh – that flesh which is given life and gives life by the holy Spirit. Thus people are invited and led to offer themselves, their works and all creation in union with Christ” (PO 5).

– The place that the Eucharist holds at the heart of the life and action of the Oblate. It was observed that “the word “heart” was not placed at the very head of the article only for the good composition or structure of this passage […]” It “brings out the affective element which the Eucharist commands and which, issuing from the heart, should imbue and influence all our daily activity. Indeed, we do not celebrate the Eucharist or participate in it only by those few minutes of fervor consecrated to the liturgical act. We celebrate and participate in the Eucharist so that it can be an intense moment in our union with God. All the successive instances of the day would only be echoes and the continuation of this rich and intense encounter with the Lord”. [48]

– Referring once again to article 299 of the Founder’s Rule, we recall the demand to lead a life which allows for a worthy celebration of the Eucharist every day.

– A classic element of Oblate spirituality, the bond which exists between the Eucharist and oblation, is once again emphasized. While acknowledging the Eucharist as a sacrifice, the Oblate celebrates the offering of himself, his own Mass, in union with the offering that Christ makes of himself.

– The Eucharist unites the Oblate to Christ in such an intimacy that he becomes one with him and thus can become his cooperator: “[…] they are renewed in the mystery of their cooperation with him”. The Rule suggests it is a mystery of Communion which in the dynamics of continued growth is never finished. Later on, the Constitutions come back on this point stating that the novices become accustomed “to meet him in the Eucharist” (C 56).

– The Eucharist is still the mystery of communion between all the members of the community. In uniting each individual one to the other and transforming him into Jesus Christ, the Eucharist makes all become one. Once again, as in the old Rule, there is an insistence on the communitarian dimension of oraison: “In accordance with their tradition, they consecrate one hour a day to oraison and spend part of this time in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament”. In this way, they “secure the bonds of their apostolic community”.

Finally, the apostolic dimension of devotion to the Eucharist appears. It is, in fact, “at the heart of their life and activity”, in such a way that the Oblates are “opening the horizons of our zeal to all the world”. Constitution 40 reaffirms the importance of daily oraison before the Blessed Sacrament and also indicates the content of that oraison. “Whatever the demands of our ministry, one of the more intense moments of the life of an apostolic community is the time spent praying together. One in spirit with those who are absent, we turn to the Lord to praise him, seek his will, beg forgiveness and ask for the strength to serve him better”.

Eucharist in the Oblates’ life experience

Contrary to what has been the case with the other dimensions of the Oblate life, the theme of Eucharist has seldom been the object of an explicit and detailed reflection. Generally, it was overshadowed by the greater reality of the mystery of Christ. In Oblate thought, the Eucharist has always been perceived as the obligatory way to identification with Christ, an identity which enables us to cooperate with his plan of salvation.

But before being for the Oblates an object of reflection, the Eucharist was a life experience. Concerning this subject, research becomes very far-ranging and difficult because it is obliged to embrace the entire Oblate life experience, an experience which covers several generations and has not always been recorded. Coming back on the life experience of Oblates, two characteristics seem to me to be more important: the close link between oblation and Eucharist and the link between mission and Eucharist. This latter must be understood in the rather restricted sense of support that the sacrament can provide in the course of apostolic work, especially in the context of solitude.


Life experience and doctrinal reflection have especially pondered on the association between the Eucharist and oblation. In his study on oblation, Emilien Lamirande presents a wide selection of texts in which the Eucharistic sacrifice makes its appearance like a golden thread woven through the consecration typical of the Oblate. Oblation takes on a meaning and value because it is done in union with the oblation or sacrifice of the Savior. [49]

Taking into account its historic value, we can find a passage charged with significance in the writings of scholastic brother Francis Mary Camper. His biography was published in 1859, that is, while Eugene de Mazenod was still living: “I harbor a great desire […] to conform my life in all its dimensions, all its circumstances, to the life of Jesus, victim on Calvary and in the Blessed Sacrament. Oblate means victim; I would like to be the victim of Jesus, as he is daily my victim. Taking this point of view, I like to think of his hidden life, his humility, his gentleness, his patience, his sacrifice, his state of continued humiliation, of annihilation, of sacrifice in the sacrament of the altar because of me. And for love of him, I would like […] to practice all the virtues he practiced, suffer like him, offer myself like him”. [50] His vision of the priesthood conforms with this: “The Eucharist as sacrifice: it is a continuation of the sacrifice of the cross; same victim, same person offering the sacrifice, same fruits, same effects, same value. […] In one or the other, the priest must see in Jesus a model which he must faithfully replicate […]” [51]

This is a mind set that has been woven into the history of the Congregation right to the present time. Father Joseph Ladié who died in 1990 showed himself to be a faithful heir of this tradition when, at the end of his life, he wrote: “I am living and discovering the Eucharist in a special way. I usually say Mass seated in the community chapel […] Well, then, at the consecration when I say: “This is my body, that is, my life given for you”, I say to myself: But I am part of the Mystical Body of Christ; I can, then, truly offer myself, offer my life for the Church, the world, the Congregation, the Province, people who are dear to me, etc. Similarly, “This is my blood..”.: I can offer the gift of my illness, my frailties, my sufferings… Never have I felt I have lived my priesthood as fully as I am living it now, never have I felt myself more “oblate”, “offered”, than at the present time […]” [52]

The Eucharist is simultaneously the model of consecrated and priestly life that is set before the Oblate and the means of identifying himself to Christ in his mystery of the Redemption. In the 1876 directory for novices and scholastics, we already see this association between the Eucharist and union in Christ. [53]

Joseph Mary Simon is the one who has perhaps done the most work on this theme. In his important study on Oblate spirituality, he wrote: “[…] For us Oblates, the Mass […] is the centre towards which all the other [religious practices] should converge. Why? Christ is the first “Oblate of Mary Immaculate”. […] If we accept that, the conclusion follows: If we want to walk in the footsteps of the first Oblate, all our spiritual and apostolic activity should be centered on the sacrifice of Calvary made present on our altars. It is not, then, a question of establishing a water-tight compartment, an absolute break, between our Mass and the rest of our lives. […] In other words, the Mass must become a part of my life, just like my life must become a part of the Mass […]”

“But the Mass was not only our Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice; it is also the sacrifice of the Church, our sacrifice. […] Consequently, each morning, one would need to bring to the sacrifice a rich personal oblation. Even better, our whole day should be a continuous oblation culminating in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the following day. All our actions should be accomplished with an internal perfection such that it is transformed into a precious gift, a spotless offering worthy of being placed upon the altar alongside the oblation of Jesus. Then, the Mass will become our sacrifice because it will be the sign of our own oblation […]”

“Because of transubstantiation, Jesus becomes our victim and produces in us this interior oblation of which he is not only the sign, but the cause as well. Let us abandon ourselves, then, to the transforming action of our victim who will fashion us according to his image and likeness. […] He sets our thoughts in harmony with his own, our heart in harmony with his”. [54]

Oraison before the Eucharist and the visit to the Blessed Sacrament have always been considered as the two other ways of prolonging the Eucharistic celebration, and of identifying oneself gradually with Christ so as to become fully transformed into him. [55]


The second aspect which appears on a regular basis in Oblate tradition is that of the importance of the Eucharist for missionaries who, in order to carry out their ministry, must live in isolation. It is in their daily contacts with Jesus in the Eucharist that they find the necessary strength to move forward. Here, too, a few testimonies will suffice.

The first one comes to us from those who witnessed the holiness of Father Joseph Gerard. They were struck by his relationship with the Eucharist, the secret of his perseverance in the apostolate: “He never left the church when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. Even when there was no exposition, he was very often at the church. He said Mass slowly and very fervently”. “People judged his great love for the Blessed Sacrament by his long prayers in church. He said Mass slowly without hurrying. When he carried the Blessed Sacrament to the sick he invited Christians and the school children to go with him in procession”. [56]

Another testimony comes to us from Canada. From Fort MacLeod, November 11, 1883, Father Leonard Van Tighen wrote: “Here I am more than three hundred miles from Saint Albert […] among people who, for all intents and purposes, are pagans […] It is eight years now since I left the Catholic people of Flanders, my family, […] and here I am cast to a far off horizon. No more community, no more confreres, no more cheerful relaxation, not even a little garden plot or a tree to offer shade and shelter. Yes, let me repeat: What a change for me! One thing, however, is left to me – and that is the main thing: I have the Blessed Sacrament with me. That says it all”. [57]

When the time came for him to withdraw from active duty in the apostolate, Bishop Jules Cénez acknowledged that it is in the Eucharist that he found the courage to soldier on. Upon leaving Basutoland where he had worked as a missionary for forty years, he told his confreres: “Each day, even amidst the most absorbing activity, never forget to set aside a few minutes before the Blessed Sacrament. There, in the presence of Jesus, you will draw courage, strength and consolation in your sufferings. In his presence, you will learn to become and remain ever good and holy Oblates, missionaries filled with a consuming zeal”. [58]

The Eucharist in Oblate ministry

The Oblates are called not only to live the Eucharistic ministry, but to make it a living reality as “the source and summit of all evangelization” (PO 5).

An exhaustive study should inform us about such things as the active participation of Oblates in international and regional Eucharistic congresses in which they often played the roles of prime instigators and animators. This kind of research could also focus on studies and material published by Oblates on the Mass and the Eucharist. It would be interesting as well to see how, in imitation of Bishop de Mazenod, some Oblate bishops have established perpetual adoration in their diocese, or other special Eucharistic projects such as those of Montmartre. [59]

Suffice it here to give, in the form of a brief summary, some observations on the catechesis and every day pastoral service of the Oblates, especially in mission territories. Indeed, the missionaries felt it was their obligation to instill in the people a sense of the Eucharist, an understanding which embraced participation in this sacrament and the in-depth study of its mysteries right down to concrete exercises such as adoration, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, processions… One need only page rapidly through Missions to find on a regular basis the deion of solemn Eucharistic celebrations in which thousands of the faithful took part; or yet again the simple catechesis of every day. To lead people to the reception of the Eucharist was one of the basic objectives of parish missions, just as it was ordinary pastoral practice in parishes confided to the care of the Oblates. Indeed, participation in the Eucharist has been considered a sign of conversion and an essential condition of an authentic commitment to the Christian journey.

Who knows to how many other parishes could be applied what the Archbishop of Quebec City said some time in the past to Father Hormidas Legault: “Your fine parish of Saint Sauveur stands out among all the others because of its devotion to the Blessed Sacrament […] The adoration offered by your thousands of workers every month on their way home from work is a most edifying display: Everywhere people are talking about it with enthusiastic admiration”. [60]

A talk by Father Charles Baret, bearing the title, The Eucharistic Sacrifice, enables us to see the content of the catechesis that was given during parish missions. In the text, we read: “Now direct your gaze to the Eucharist; summon to this place all the mothers of this earth; let them put into operation all the ingenuity and tactics of their lofty love. Between them and God on the altar, there will always exist a deep chasm. No human love would be capable of descending from high up, and thousands of obstacles stop it from falling. The God of the Eucharist descends from the highest heights and his humiliations descend to infinity […] Here I no longer perceive either God or man. The Man-God entirely disappears and fades away. The infinite one is no more than an atom; he seems to be on the edge of annihilation. Yes, the Eucharist is the last step in the Word’s humiliation and, by that very fact, the Eucharist is his culminating point in his ascension in love […] The love of God obliterates, calls for and stirs up our love. It will never be said that infinite love had marshaled around you in vain so many attractive things and so many prodigies! […] Our adorable Master with his personal form cloaked beneath such a humble disguise wanted to teach us that genuine love is solely the fruit of sacrifice, and that, to love divinely and be loved divinely, the infallible means is by voluntary immolation”. [61]

The exhortation to frequent Communion is another element that appears regularly in the catechesis. For example, in a letter sent to a magazine called L’Eucharistie, Brother Eugene Groussault wrote: “All of our missionaries in Ceylon naturally assume it is their duty wherever possible to establish frequent Communion among their Christians”. And he narrates how he himself prepares children for first Holy Communion and what efforts people make to attend Mass, sometimes even walking several kilometers to do it. [62]

Another witness, coming from the missions with the Amerindians in Canada, helps us to grasp the importance the missionaries placed on worship of the Eucharist. “The catechism classes of the morning and the evening taught them in what way Jesus Christ would come and reside in the church, that is, in the sacrament of the Eucharist. We speak to them of the real presence, of the host, the chalice, the ciborium, the lamp burning before the Blessed Sacrament, genuflections, the way of coming in, of behaving, and of leaving the church when the Blessed Sacrament is on the altar, of how to decorate the altar, of visits to our Lord present in the tabernacle”. [63] This is not a case of mere external ritualism. Teachings on the Eucharist have as their objective a greater depth of understanding: “If you believe that Jesus Christ is now present body and soul, cloaked by the species of bread and wine in this tabernacle, you will come to visit him during the day, because you are the only reason for which he came to take up residence in this church. Go to him, then, you who have caused him sorrow by your sins; go mourn for your failings in his presence, asking his forgiveness and promising to never more offend him. You also who are frail and sad, go to him; to ask his assistance, his enlightenment and his strength”. [64]

In Oblate catechesis, there is no lack of emphasis on catholicity and unity, traits Eugene de Mazenod perceived as being intrinsically dependent on the mystery of the Eucharist. For example, the Archbishop of Durban, Bishop Denis E. Hurley, explains what he describes as “the Eucharistic peace that we should bring to racial and social divisions in the world”. In a talk entitled, The Eucharist and Unity of the Family, presented at the XXXVIII international Eucharistic Congress, the Oblate bishop who led a constant struggle against racial segregation said: “So it is that we could and still can take part in the sacrifice and share the banquet with our brothers and sisters in faith, and then walk out of our Father’s house aware not of our oneness in Christ, not of the overpowering experience we have just enjoyed together, but of what divides us, the barriers of disregard and non-communication of class, of colour, race and language. I wonder if the sufferings of Jesus that night were not in some way associated with the crimes of discrimination by which men have contrived to inflict isolation and humiliation and indignity on their fellow men, and to shrink and impoverish them in body, mind and heart”. [65] Once again, the Eucharist emerges as the most basic bond among Christians since it is capable of breaking down every wall and of leading to unity.

The Eucharist in the context of Oblate identity

We will now try to synthesize the elements that have emerged to this point in a way that will also situate the mystery of the Eucharist in the central perspective of the Oblate charism.

The Eucharist as it was lived by the Founder and in the Oblate tradition helps us in achieving a fuller understanding of our union with Christ, the Savior, whose cooperators we are called to be, the communitarian dimension of our vocation and, finally, evangelization. We could even attempt an interpretation of all the aspects of the Oblate charism described at the 1975 congress in Rome (Christ, evangelization, the poor, the Church, community, religious life, Mary, priesthood, urgent needs [66]) in the light of the Eucharist and vice versa.


The Eucharist is understood above all in the light of our vocation as cooperators of Christ the Savior. Indeed, we know that “the desire to cooperate with him draws us to know him more deeply, to identify with him, to let him live in us” (C 2). The Eucharist is the mandatory road that must be taken to arrive at this goal.

In the Eucharist, Christ has left us his redemptive love which led him to the cross. If “the Oblate cross received at the time of perpetual profession” is an exterior sign, “a constant reminder of the love of the Savior who wishes to draw all hearts to himself and sends us out as his co-workers” (C 63), the Eucharist is our daily reminder of that. That is why we acquire the ability to see “through the eyes of our crucified Savior”, to see “the world which he redeemed with his blood, desiring that those in whom he continues to suffer will know also the power of his resurrection” (C 4).

In the Eucharist, we learn the very essence of our religious life, our consecration, our oblation which consists in replicating Christ in our lives “even unto death” (C 2). The Eucharist is Christ’s supreme gift, the manifestation of the greatest love, because “there is no greater love than to give one’s life”. Our oblation, then, takes the Eucharist as its pattern; like Christ’s gift, it is the complete gift of self in the manifestation of the greatest love. We are Oblates, that is people totally offered up, unconditionally and irrevocably, a holocaust, an immolation of our entire being to the one who gave himself entirely to us. Thus we can be a response of love to the love with which Jesus Christ loved us and gave himself up for us (See Galatians 2:20).

Paul VI reminded all religious: “On the occasion of your religious profession, you were offered to God through the Church in intimate union with the Eucharistic sacrifice. This offering of yourselves should, day after day, become a concrete reality and be continually renewed”. [67]

Oblation enables us to become simply one with Christ. It is a case of dying with him to be in him, to lose one’s life to save it in him (See Mark 8:35). We live in the mystery of which Paul spoke: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I live now not with my own life, but with the life of Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:19-20). Constantly grafted into the fruitful death of Christ by our sharing in the Eucharist, we can hope to become his authentic cooperators in the Pascal Mystery. In the same way that the offering that Jesus makes of himself to the Father is the road to salvation for the human race, so our oblation, grafted into his own offering and validated by it, could also be the secret of our apostolic fruitfulness.

Mary who “consecrated herself totally as lowly handmaid to the person and work of the Savior” (C 10) remains the peerless model of oblation.

Finally, it is in our daily relationship with the Eucharist that this “priestly charity” of which the Preface speaks can mature. Even the scholastics will achieve “appreciation of the gift of the priesthood” and will arrive at a sharing “in a unique way in Christ’s own ministry of priest, prophet and shepherd” (C 66) and the brothers will share “in the common priesthood of Christ” (R 3) [R 7c in CCRR 2000].


Another dimension of the Eucharist preserved in the Oblate tradition is that of the hearth of communion. It is, in fact, a bond and model of unity “which this most holy sacrament aptly signifies and admirably realizes” (LG 11). Indeed, “though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

The religious community, which finds its place within the great ecclesial community, also draws life from the Eucharist. In Evangelica testificatio, we read: “United in the name of Christ, our communities naturally have the Eucharist at their centre, ‘a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity’.” [68]

If “the community of the Apostles with Jesus is the model of our life” (C 3), it is gathered around the Eucharist that the Oblates will learn to live the relationship of Communion because it was at the Last Supper that the Lord put his definitive stamp on the community of the Twelve. It was there that he gave them the commandment to love each other, the element at the very heart of community life. He demonstrated for them the quality of these relationships based on service (the washing of the feet). He offered them the same possibility of loving as he loved and to serve as he served in the measure that he himself identified himself with each one of them.

The Eucharistic celebration constitutes the most clearly defined moment of ecclesial Communion. Ultimately, it is a school where the Oblates learn to carry out their “mission in Communion with the pastors whom the Lord has given to his people” (C 6).


The third element of the Oblate tradition is the link which exists between the Eucharist and evangelization. This is the least developed of the three. From our own experience, we know the kind of spiritual support the Eucharist provides for us to progress in the missionary life, especially if this life is lived in solitude. But we do not have an adequate understanding of the Eucharistic dynamic of evangelization and the apostolic charity that flows from it. There is a close association between the imitation of Christ the Savior and evangelization of the poor (see C 1), between the following of Christ and announcing the Gospel, between identification with Christ and the service of “God’s people in unselfish love” (C 2). If the Eucharist is the privileged place of conformity to Christ, it also becomes the place of missionary sending off; it is the place which gives rise to a daily practice of charity, not only within the community, but also with regard to every individual for whom Christ offered his body and shed his blood. So it is that “the bread of God’s word and the bread of charity, just like the Eucharistic bread, are one and the same bread: It is, in fact, the person of Jesus who gives himself to humans and involves his disciples in his act of love for his Father and his brothers”. [69]

So it is that the Eucharist can no longer be considered a fringe element in the overall life project of the Oblates. It serves to nourish and to shape our charism. Indeed, in it, Christ himself is really present, “the living Only Begotten Son of God, splendor of eternal light, Word made flesh and Redeemer of men”, [70] to bring to fulfillment the new and eternal alliance. It is by taking it as his starting point that he gets us involved as his cooperators in his own work of salvation.