Letter of Introduction for the 25th anniversary of the Canonization of the Founder
A 25th anniversary is an important milestone in life. A person who has turned 25 years old is someone who, in principle, is already mature, ready to begin their life work and to start their own family. Therefore, society fixed specific generational changes around the age of 25 years. In marriages and religious consecrations, the 25th anniversary speaks of an established commitment that has already borne abundant fruits, even amid weaknesses and failures that still need to be overcome. In the Church, we celebrate jubilees with the spirit of remembrance, thanksgiving, purification, and a search for new life in Christ. Just as the Hebrew Jubilee was the occasion desired by God to reestablish sacred relationships between the members of the People of God and the latter with their Lord, so also in the Church we live it to resume our Christian vocation with complete integrity. For this reason, the Superior General commissioned the General Postulation Service to prepare a ceremony to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Eugene de Mazenod, which took place on December 3, 1995.
The present prayer scheme is not an official liturgical prayer, nor is it even found within the Liturgy of the Hours. However, its structure, rhythm, symbols, and many elements are directly inspired by the liturgy (cf. Directory on popular piety and the liturgy No. 16). As presented here in its most basic form, the prayer scheme reciting the psalms and without songs, etc. should last around 30 minutes. This scheme proposes a common framework for adaptation to each community’s specific needs. Each community can also include hymns and songs. Since it is not a liturgy, we invite you to modify, adapt, even delete or add any element if the circumstances advise.
The fundamental part of the Vigil presented here is the praying of three psalms. In some regions, they may also want to celebrate the Eucharist. In this case, a community could celebrate the Eucharist after the Vigil proposed here. They could celebrate a Votive Mass of Saint Eugene de Mazenod or a Mass of Thanksgiving for the canonization (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal nº 347, 373, 375-377, 3rd edition). We might also advise that, in addition to the prayer at the local level, there also should be a larger celebration at the Unit level, or of a gathering of a subdivision of the Unit. It would also be appropriate to consider the possibility of inviting representatives of all the realities of the Oblate Family and other ecclesial institutions linked to Saint Eugene de Mazenod and his charism or those connected to the Oblates for other historical reasons.
In any case, it is crucial to consider the health circumstances that Covid-19 imposes. It would be desirable that, if the Major Superiors decide to make transmissions through the Internet, the Major Superiors or unit leadership can send a copy of the transmission link, or of the video already transmitted, to the General Postulation (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the Oblates of the Communications Service (email@example.com). These two General Services could then share them and create a digital mosaic for storage in the General Archives. On the other hand, if the lockdown prevents people from meeting physically, the leadership could prepare some brochures which families can use to pray at home, making the appropriate modifications. In principle, this should be easy to do since the psalms are the prayer’s central nucleus.
As for the exact date on which the Vigil will take place, the Postulation advises each Unit and each community to feel free to schedule the celebration on the dates that are considered most appropriate in each area. However, we recommend that the celebrations should take place after November 28 (Memorial of the Oblate Spanish Martyrs) and before the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (December 8).
It is vital to prepare the prayer environment well. We have designed the Prayer Vigil to take place in the presence of an Oblate Cross and images of the Virgin Mary and Saint Eugene. Ideally, the sacred images used should be large reproductions of the Oblate Cross and the Oblate Madonna.
You can also use this Prayer Vigil in our local communities as a Faith Sharing Session in which, after reciting the Psalms, each participant could share their reflections on questions such as: What is the place of Saint Eugene in my life? How does he inspire me? or Have I experienced at any particular moment the power of his intercession, etc? A faith sharing session may not be possible in large assemblies or celebrations with the laypeople. For this reason, it could be useful to schedule an Oblate community gathering before the Vigil with the laypeople to share the faith within the local community. We will soon send some additional material from the General Administration that you can use as worship aids.
May Saint Eugene de Mazenod grant us that the celebration of these 25 years will stimulate us to continue seeking with increasing ardor the glory of God, the service to the Church, and the salvation of the most abandoned souls.
By Diego Sáez Martin, OMI – Postulator General
Published on the OMI World website.