Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The OMI Charism

Different groups of consecrated followers of Christ have their different charisms. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, or OMIs, claim as their charism brotherly and apostolic love. This was the will of the founder Eugene de Mazenod at his death. His heart was like that of Paul toward Jesus crucified and His Church, toward Timothy and his other companions, toward the Philippians and the other local churches he founded and built up.

St. Eugene lived from 1782 to 1861, during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire. He is likened to the bishop who was merciful to Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Eventually he became bishop of Marseilles.

The OMIs are a brotherhood of priests and laymen.Their founder had a difficult personality. He was both explosive and tender, commanding and affectionate. Yet he carried the OMIs in his heart. He prayed for them, thought about and loved them each and all. He was a man of brotherly love and wanted the OMIs to be men of brotherly love.
St. Eugene de Mazenod

OMIs are missionaries. They are to be men of apostolic love. The founder was an apostle of youth, of servants, and of prisoners. He was an apostle of the unwanted, the neglected, and the abandoned. His heart was touched by people in need of Jesus and His Catholic Church. He was a missionary priest and bishop. He wanted the OMIs to be men of the people, of the everyday ordinary forgotten people, on fire to draw them closer to Jesus and His Church.

OMIs live and work together. Whether they live under the same roof, or under different roofs but in the same area, they join together in prayer and service. They pray to the Lord for people and for themselves at the eucharistic sacrifice, before Jesus sacramentally present, in the prayer of the hours, in scripture reading and meditation, and in the rosary. They serve the Lord and people by their presence and example and conversation, by their preaching and teaching, by their caring and shepherding, and by their celebrating the eucharistic sacrifice and the other sacraments, especially reconciliation. They are men of cheerful mercy for their neighbors, like and with Jesus our merciful Savior.

OMIs attract candidates to their way by their brotherly and apostolic love. Like their founder, they may have difficult personalities. Yet their hearts are full of manly affection, of care and concern for each other and for the people they meet and serve and help. They display mirth, energy, and daring. Likewise, in their love they tend to be humble, modest, and simple. This is their magnetism.

The OMI charism is nourished by devotion to Mary graced at her conception and to her husband Joseph, by allegiance to the successor of Peter and to the successors of the other apostles with and under him, by the teaching of Thomas Aquinas and of John Henry Newman and of Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Like Eugene, they approach Jesus through and in His Church, His bride crucified by outsiders and insiders. They are men in love with Christ our Savior and His Church as priests and brothers and apostles.

In a word, the OMIs are a priestly congregation of men, ordained and lay, who aim to care for their least brothers and sisters, and to do so like Jesus crucified, offered by Mary and Joseph, and attuned to the successors of Peter and the other apostles. As in the parable of the Good Samaritan, they seek to embody Jesus the merciful neighbor to their neighbors in their misery.
Father Don

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