Oblates Of St Francis De Sales

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Reflection - Year of Consecrated Life- Week 12

Dear Confreres and Colleagues: Reflection - Year of Consecrated Life - Week 12: Lewis S. Fiorelli, OSFS - Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Vienna, VA All religious follow the poor, chaste and obedient Jesus but each according to the prism of the particular charism of their Congregation. What is that prism for us Oblates? I believe it is love. What are among the very first words of spiritual advice that Francis gives to Jane, the young widow and mother of four? "All though love, nothing through constraint; love obedience more than you fear disobedience." For emphasis, he pens those words in capital letters. Six years later, the two Founders place their new Order under the Rule of St. Augustine. That great saint once summed up all of Christian behavior in these words: "Love and then do what you want." No rules, commands or vows are really necessary beyond the demands of love understood as the selfless and generous gift of oneself to both God and others. The Order of the Visitation will embrace Augustine's spirit in these words: "We have no bond but the bond of love which is the bond of perfection." This is how St. Léonie Aviat, a woman of few words but great love, understood love: "to forget myself entirely so as to work for the happiness of others." Love monitors itself; it checks any tendency toward sin and selfishness while prompting us to find our true center, not in ourselves, but in the Other and others, just as Jesus did. Blessed Louis Brisson embraced this spirit of love as well. He encouraged us Oblates to take for brief periods of time the vow of charity by which we promise always to do and say the most loving thing. Love is among the three practices that he gives us so as to remain united with one another and with our Congregation: Directory, Charity and Canonical Visitation: Di-Car-Vi. An early version of the Oblate habit has a cord cincture with four knots. Three knots represent the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, while the fourth knot represents charity. Finally, we as a Congregation are to be dedicated in a special way to the Heart of Jesus, aflame with love for the human family, and to Calvary, the "true School of love." Love is hard work that is learned through the practice of uniting wills. In everything and under every circumstance we unite our will to God's will for us. Even the “will of the confrère” is to be embraced before our own so as to train ourselves to always place before our own the needs and concerns of those we whom we share life in community and serve in our apostolates. Love for us is also expressed as fidelity to the practices of the Spiritual Directory and to its spirit of intentionality in the daily events and circumstances of both community and apostolate. The spirit of the Directory, in turn, echoes what Francis encourages of all of us in the Treatise: "at hundreds of times during the day let us join our life to God's love" (Book 12, chapter 9). Love is not easy. It is the embrace of Jesus's foot-washing love on Holy Thursday and his suffering love on Good Friday. It is his loving fidelity throughout life to whatever the Father asked of him or permitted to befall him as each day unfolded. Whether it was Tabor or Calvary, he embraced both with equal love. As Jesus lived, so are we to live. And as he loved, so are we to love.