Dictionary of Oblate Values  vol.: 1  let.: G

GLORY OF GOD

To mention the glory of God spontaneously brings to mind the classic trilogy: "for the glory of God, the good of the Church and the salvation of souls", which in renewed terminology the Code of Canon Law addresses to all religious: "the honor of God, the building up of the Church and the salvation of the world" (Canon 573, par. 1). Even if seeking the glory of God is something which concerns all religious, it still takes on a different coloring according to the spirit proper to each institute. We will, therefore, study what seeking the glory of God meant for Eugene de Mazenod and see how the Oblates lived and understand living with the same outlook.

1. THE ACTUALITY

The search the glory of God is one of the basic motivating factors that determined Eugene de Mazenod's conduct - and this from his adolescence on. Under the direction of Don Bartolo Zinelli in Venice, he had drawn up a rule of life for himself. After having made mention of his morning prayer, he noted: "Having thus organized everything for the greater glory of God, I will leave my room to go about my business". [1]

In Eugene de Mazenod, the seminarian at Saint Sulpice, we find the same concern. He exhorts his mother to do everything, even the most insignificant things, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In doing this, he was making allusion to Colossians 3:17 and he concludes with the quotation from 1 Corinthians 10:31: "Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God". [2] If he gives his sister advice, it is, of course, to help her to live the Christian life, but always with the same concern in mind: "I hope that God will be glorified by our correspondence". [3]

The notes he made during his retreat in preparation for the priesthood reveal the same preoccupation: "You gave me intelligence, will, memory, a heart, eyes, hands, in a word all my bodily senses, all my soul's faculties, you gave me all these things for yourself, to use them for your glory, for your exclusive and greater glory. [...] My God, henceforth, it is all settled and for my whole life. You, you alone will be the sole object to which will tend all my affections and my every action. To please you, act for your glory, will be my daily task, the task of every moment of my life. I wish to live only for you, I wish to love you alone and all else in you and through you". [4]

When he remains on at the seminary after the departure of the Sulpicians, it is always for the same reason: "I will stay, then, because everything obliges me to stay: the glory of God, the good of the Church, the building up of my neighbor, my own advantage". [5]

When it was a matter of gathering a group of priests to preach the Gospel to the insignificant poor, it was for the glory of God and the salvation of souls that he undertook this endeavor. From that time on, he would almost always say: "the glory of God and the salvation of souls", and sometimes he would quote the entire trilogy, as for example in the Preface: "The sight of these evils has touched the hearts of certain priests, who are full of zeal for the glory of God, and of devotion to the interests of the Church, and who would willingly sacrifice themselves for the salvation of souls". [6]

We will return to this theme later, but we can already quote a few important passages. In his letter of invitation to Abbé Henry Tempier, the Founder wrote: "Read this letter at the foot of your crucifix with a mind to heed only God and what is demanded in the interests of his glory and of the salvation of souls for a priest like yourself. [...] It is not easy to come across men who are dedicated and wish to devote themselves to the glory of God and the salvation of souls". [7]

The same thought surfaces again on the occasion of the approbation of the Rules by Rome: "Do all the good that is incumbent upon you, but do it only for God". [8] In another letter to the same father, we find an echo of his retreat notes quoted above: "[...] I have done all I ought, God will do the rest. We live only for him; we seek only the glory of his holy name and the salvation of souls he has redeemed". [9] The conclusion he draws from the fact of the approval by Rome is much in the same vein, "The conclusion to be drawn from this [...] is: we must work, with renewed ardor and still more total devotedness, to bring to God all the glory that stems from our efforts and to the needy souls of our neighbors, salvation in all possible ways". [10] He would be able to tell Cardinal Fransoni that this was the goal of the life of every Oblate: "Our Oblates of the Most Holy Mary Immaculate are, by the grace of God, all good and all ready to sacrifice their lives for the glory of God and to work for the conversion and sanctification of souls". [11]

2. ITS MEANING

To understand the significance for Eugene de Mazenod of seeking the glory of God, there is no better means than to contemplate Jesus Christ working for the glory of his Father. The Founder's spirituality is, indeed, Christocentric. Paul VI called him a person "passionately attached to Jesus Christ". Eugene himself said: "Since I have not imitated my model in his innocence, will I be denied the opportunity to imitate him in his devotion to the glory of his Father and the salvation of men?" [12] To commit himself to follow Jesus Christ is the central element of Eugene de Mazenod's spirituality. And it is from this point of departure that one can understand the richness of the other elements, like the one we are presently studying.

a) It was by seeking the glory of his Father that Jesus conducted himself as a genuine Son of God.

"The one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true" (John 7:18). This is the same experiential truth that Eugene de Mazenod lived out; the texts quoted in this article are sufficient proof of that.



b) To seek the glory of God is a source of freedom.

Jesus is free to speak to every class of society, rebuking them for their sins and summoning them to an authentic fidelity to God. He does not fear to proclaim the Beatitudes in the face of the world's rejection of them.

Eugene de Mazenod felt free enough to speak out frankly. For example, to preach in Provençal in spite of the ridicule of Aix's high society, to defend the rights of the Church like the freedom to teach, [13] to display his independence with regard to all governments, to reprimand certain Oblates such as Bishop Jean-François Allard [14] or Father Callixte Kotterer, [15] or when he told Father Hippolyte Courtès: "See to it firmly that each performs his duty punctually. [...] The essential is to please God". [16]

c) Seeking the glory of God is a source of peace

Jesus experienced in his own human heart the terror of death: "Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say: Father, save me from this hour? But it was for this very reason that I have come to his hour. Father, glorify your name" (John 12:27-28). It is after having said "glorify your name" that with a peaceful heart Jesus proclaimed his certainty of victory: "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself" (John 12:32).

Among the many trials Eugene de Mazenod had undergone, we can recall the long Calvary he suffered from 1832 to 1837. After his consecration as Bishop of Icosia, he was proscribed by the French government and ordered by Rome to remain silent. In spite of the deep suffering that this caused him, he wrote to Bishop Frezza: "It is a rich reward for my suffering to see God glorified in this way, so many souls converted; [...] as long as God is exalted what does it matter that I remain humiliated, neglected, abandoned by almost everyone? [...] From the day of my birth, God has led me by the hand; he has led me to do so many things for his glory that I would have feared being proud if men were aware of it and had granted me recognition. It is better for me that they should be unjust and ungrateful; thus God would be my only reward as he is my only strength, my only hope." [17] Once the matter was settled by his appointment as Bishop of Marseilles, even if he did not want to accept the responsibility of a diocese, he wrote in his diary: "So be it! Just so long as God is glorified by it. I could not have lost my independence and liberty more completely; humanly speaking, it is an affliction for me, but things must be considered in another light". [18]

d) Seeking the glory of God means self-denial

"I tell you most solemnly, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: and whatever the Father does the Son does too" (John 5:19). Jesus personally lived the beatitude of poverty that he proclaimed.

It is the same attitude of self-denial that the Founder recommended to the Oblates. "Please God at Aix they will know how to profit from the gifts of God. For that the missionaries must be forgetful of themselves, and have nothing in view save the greater glory of God and the salvation of these poor souls who have not had any help since the mission." [19] He recommended the same attitude to the first missionaries sent to Canada: "[...] never seeking their own interest but only what pertains to the glory of God and the service of the Church". [20]

e) Seeking the glory of God is a source of apostolic zeal

"Because I have come from heaven, not to do my own will, but to do the will of the one who sent me. Now the will of him who sent me is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me, and that I should raise it up on the last day". (John 6:38 - 39) The one who acts only for the glory of God discovers ever more the infinite love of God for people and shares his desire that "everyone [...] be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).

Committed to the following of Jesus Christ, from the first years of his ministry, Eugene de Mazenod linked together the glory of God and the salvation of men. We have already quoted enough texts which give proof of this. Moreover, in a letter to Father Christopher Bonjean, he explains the link between the glory of God and the salvation of men: "May you all be preserved also in order to continue to bring about the glory of God by working for the conversion of these poor souls which without you would not be saved". [21] God is glorified when men are saved. So it is as a missionary that Eugene de Mazenod seeks the glory of God following in the footsteps of Jesus. As Father Joseph Pielorz pointed out in his thesis: "His apostolic mentality enables us to discover the true meaning of the phrase which appears so often in the writings of Bishop de Mazenod: 'to work for the greater glory of God'. This work is not to be accomplished mainly through the various acts of religion, i.e., adoration, sacrifice, prayer, etc., as the French School in general understood it, but rather through the apostolate. That is, less by increasing acts of adoration than by increasing the number of adorers." [22]

f) Love is the inspiration for seeking the glory of God

"He who sent me is with me, and has not left me to myself, for I always do what pleases him". (John 8:29)

It is noteworthy that, from time to time, the Founder transformed the classical trilogy into another formula: "The love of Christ, love for the Church and the salvation of souls". For example, in the well-known text: "The one who would like to join our ranks should burn with the desire of his own perfection, be enflamed with love for Our Lord Jesus Christ and his Church, with an ardent zeal for the salvation of souls". [23] Consequently, for the Founder as for the Oblates, seeking the glory of God meant to respond to the love of Christ, to love the Church with him and to share his love for all. Seeking the glory of God was understood and lived as a commitment to follow in the footsteps of Christ, the Savior.


[1] REY I, p. 26.
[2] Letter to his mother, November 29, 1809 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 14, no. 64, p. 145.
[3] Letter to his sister, July 12, 1809, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 14, no. 57, p. 131.
[4] Retreat at Amiens, December 1-21, 1811 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 14, no. 95, p. 217.
[5] Bargemon (Var, France) Boisgelin Collection.
[6] Constitutions and Rules of 1982, Preface, p. 10.
[7] Letter to Abbé Henry Tempier, October 9, 1815 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 6, no. 4, p. 6 & 7.
[8] Letter to Father Tempier, December 18, 1825 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 6, no. 212, p. 123.
[9] Letter to Father Tempier, June 10, 1826 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 7, no. 248, p. 113.
[10] Letter to Father Tempier, February 18, 1826 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 7, no. 226, p. 40.
[11] Letter to Cardinal Fransoni, September 25,1847 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 5, no. 6, p. 16.
[12] Spiritual conference, 1808, Oblate General Archives, quoted in MORABITO, Joseph, "Je serai prêtre", p. 78.
[13] See LEFLON III, Chapter V.
[14] See letters to Bishop Allard, May 30 and November 10, 1857 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 4, nos. 26-27, p. 87-95.
[15] See Letter to Father Callixtus Kotterer, April 23, 1837 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 9, no. 615, p. 28-30.
[16] Letter to Father Courtès, August 15, 1830 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 7, no. 356, p. 210.
[17] Letter to Bishop Frezza, April 27, 1835 in RAMBERT I, p. 698.
[18] Diary, April 15, 1837, quoted in LEFLON II, p. 515.
[19] Letter to Father Tempier, April 9, 1826 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 7, no. 235, p. 80.
[20] Letter to Father John Baptist Honorat, March 26, 1842 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 1, no. 10, p. 19.
[21] Letter to Father Christopher Bonjean, October 16, 1858 in Oblate Writings I, vol. 4, no. 47, p. 143.
[22] PIELORZ, Joseph, The Spiritual Life of Bishop de Mazenod, 1782-1812, Ottawa Oblate Studies Edition, 1956, p. 343 in the manu English translation.
[23] Quoted in the 1982 Constitutions and Rules, p. 54; see also, Preface, p. 11.

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