By: Fr. Andrew Sensenig, OMI
I was shopping on eBay a few months ago and was doing a word search for a book on our Founder, St. Eugene De Mazenod. It was French and English translation of the first rule, St. Eugene de Mazenod wrote. The book was entitled The Rule of Saint Eugene de Mazenod by Maurice Lesage, OMI and William H. Woestman, OMI. Instead of finding that book, I found something more interesting and disconcerting on that website.
What I found were two Oblate Crosses for sale. These crosses are the ones which a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate receives after he makes his perpetual vows of Chasity, Poverty, Obedience and Perseverance for life. When the Oblate receives this cross, he keeps it in his possession until he dies and then it is returned to the Oblate Community until another man comes and takes it up as an Oblate.
My Oblate Cross’ previous owner is Fr. Maurice Laliberte, OMI. He served the Oblates as a priest and a provincial. I knew him when I first joined the Oblates. Fr. Maurice was a man with a gentle and joyous spirit, which would put everyone at ease in a heartbeat. I am honored to have his cross.
During my time at De Mazenod Experience in Aix-en-Provence, France, I learned to not only wear the cross or put it in a place of devotion in a chapel or keep it close over my bed, but to pray with the cross in my hands before the Blessed Sacrament. Doing this simple practice of praying has enriched my life and deepened my devotion to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate immensely.
Now back to the two Oblate Crosses, which are on for sale on eBay. Both sellers were in the Province of Quebec, where in the past the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate thrived. Now, the vocations there and the men themselves are greatly diminished. One Oblate Cross was open to a bidding process and the other was being sold outright. My bid was not enough, so I lost out on getting that Oblate Cross sold by auction, but I was successful in acquiring that Oblate Cross, which was being sold as is.
That cross arrived in the mail recently and as I opened it, I could see that it had taken years of wear and tear. As I looked at this Oblate Cross of eBay, I spoke to it, “Welcome home, my brother.” It made me mad and sad to realize that our Oblate Heritage is up for sale to the highest bidder. In a world where everyone knows the price of everything and do not understand the cost of anything.
I am going to pray this Oblate Cross of eBay in my hands for one hour a day before the Blessed Sacrament for three intentions. First, I will pray for the soul of the Oblate, I do not know, who had this cross before me. Second, I pray for the Oblate, whose cross I lost out in auction. Finally, I will pray for an increase of vocations for Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Our Oblate Heritage needs to be remembered and we need to pray for our future. Please pray with me that the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate never give up and sell off what is precious to us, but thrive as we make our prayers to Jesus Christ, who said at the Last Supper: “Do this in memory of Me.”