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  • Writer's pictureFr. Vili Lehtoranta

The Oblate Retreat

Dear faithful,


In mid-June, on the Sacred Heart weekend, Bishop McGuire and I gave a retreat for the Sisters and one other attendant. The statutes of the Oblates of the Holy Face state that the Sisters should make annually a retreat, or at least a day of recollection. This retreat weekend was meant to prepare the Sisters for their final oblation, which they, God willing and Our Lady interceding, will make on September 12.


The theme was prayer for priests, which is one of the duties of an Oblate Sister. In the Third Book of Kings, chapter 19, the great prophet Elias is fleeing the evil Queen Jezabel. Sacred Scripture says that Elias was afraid, and escaped into the desert. There he sat under a juniper tree, and prayed that God would take his soul. He was sad, because people were so evil, worshipped idols, and refused to listen his warnings. Depressed, Elias fell asleep; but an angel woke him up, gave him water and food, and told him to walk to the mountain of Horeb. Elias did so, and walked for forty days and forty nights. And God sent him to a man named Eliseus. Eliseus was made the successor of Elias as a prophet of God.


The retreat weekend was also Fathers’ Day weekend. In 4 Kings, chapter 2, when Elias and Eliseus were walking together, a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses took Elias up into heaven. In a very touching scene, Eliseus looks up to heaven, when Elias is taken there, and cries: “My father, my father.” And then he rent his garments in two pieces and took the mantle of Elias he had left behind. So the prayer of Elias to his heavenly Father was answered. God took his soul to heaven. But the people, who needed to hear the word of God, were not left orphans, but Eliseus was appointed as the new prophet.


One part, and really the most important part, of the spirituality of an Oblate Sister, is that they pray for the priests. On the Sisters’ website you can find the Rosary for Priests, which they are asked to pray daily. The beautiful meditations before each mystery tell that they pray for all priests, including those who have fallen away, who are under pressure, or labor under sorrows, or are persecuted, or in any way in need of help, as Elias was when resting under the juniper tree. At the end of the Rosary the Sisters recite a litany of the Holy Face. Another part of their spirituality is to make acts of reparation for blasphemies committed in the modern world, and for the conversion of these blasphemers. This litany was composed by Sister Mary of St. Peter. It was approved in 1847 by François Morlot, Archbishop of Tours, later Cardinal and Archbishop of Paris. In 1853, Pope Pius IX granted to all who recite it, with a contrite heart, in honor of the Holy Face, an indulgence of 100 days for each time.


During the retreat, the Sisters were also introduced to the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They also were taught how to recite that in common, a practice always much more pleasing to God than is private recitation, which is why at St. Gertrude’s we priests often chant Vespers together. Since the Little Office, which is also printed in the Roman Breviary, is part of the official prayer of the Church, praying it is not only always pleasing to God, but it also joins the Sisters in the same prayer that the priests pray daily.


Yours in the Charity of Christ and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,


Fr. Vili Lehtoranta


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