The conditions of entry were demanding, each applicant was scrutinised to ensure that he was born of “honest and irreproachable parents,” and that he had the qualities necessary to profit by the good example he would receive in the Congregation, and that he himself was capable of giving good example.

Art 3. However, when he who will be presented has all the necessary qualities so that we can hope to see the person benefiting and giving a good example in the Congregation, we will in this case be able to allow him to apply even though he may not have received his first communion, provided that he will be of age to do so during the course of the year.

The applicant had to sign a letter requesting admission and promise to abide by all the regulations, and especially to stay away from all dangerous influences:

Art. 8. “Knowing how beneficial it would be for me to be admitted to the Congregation of the Christian Youth based in…., under the protection of the Immaculate Conception, I beg you to allow me to participate as a postulant. I promise that I will obey all the holy rules which are in force, and in particular: never to go to the theatre nor to dances, to avoid dangerous company and not to be a member of any secret society, nor other associations, even religious ones.”

Statuts, Chapitre III –Conditions pour être admis à postuler dans la Congrégation.

The young person committed himself to a strict lifestyle, which marked him out from his peers: he had to attend daily Mass, recite prayers each day, constantly strive to live in the presence of God, etc.


“Anybody who accepts mediocrity – in school, on the job, in life – is a person who compromises, and when the leader compromises, the whole organization compromises.”  (Charles Knight)

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Although it appears to have been a very strict way of living – I believe that the young people were “formed” in such a way that the basis of what Eugene instilled in them and out to live out that awesome gift of God Himself – this was always with them through the rest of their lives. Much in the same way that we are formed, taught as little children and then young adults, in such as ways so that it all becomes a part of us, a base that takes us through life.

    As for mediocrity – that for sure is the one thing that was missing in Eugene’s life and in his vocabulary. It just wasn’t a part of his makeup. I have to admit that I can relate to the “all or nothing” kind of life – seems to be my style too.

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    Blessing of the New Year to all.
    It is good to be reflecting once again as the New Year Begins about our life in the life of the society. And this society as we see goes back to these early days of the Youth Society and is being lived out in the ongoing present moment.
    As a reflect upon this, Eleanor’s notes and readings from Richard Rohr, OFM on the two haves of life I can see how this is first half of life stuff that need to happen. I may sound legalistic to 2nd half folks but with out a foundation the building will stand. So Eugene was building a firm foundation.
    Regarding the opening lines it is interesting the Eugene’s family was not stellar and yet because of that he “demanded radical community” where one grew into One Heart, One Mind and One Will. And that is the will of God, the “mind” of the Spirit and the Heart of Jesus.

  3. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I remember when I first read this – seems like a lifetime rather than just 5 years ago. I had at one point committed myself to the 12 steps of AA – to a particular way of living. And that was good as the Steps and Traditions came to be a part of me. One step in front of the other as I ‘threw’ myself into it for I knew that was the only way I would be able to stay alive. Then meeting God, hearing God say my name, hearing God claim he me as his own and ‘threw’ myself into a most particular way of living and being – one that did not shove away the other part of living (or any other way of living) but rather I grew in both. Funny the sobriety had come first but could only survive and then grow because of and as part of the other. My lifestyle changed and at first seemed strict and harsh, regulated but over the years my life deepened and began to become fertile just as does the soil that receives life when it is irrigated, that holds life when seeds are planted, tended and cared for, flowers, trees and weeds for they all contribute. The fences protecting the field of my life were no longer visible, but still I was like the land waiting for the spring to come, for some sort of new life to come.

    It wasn’t until I heard the words “Immense Hope” that new life was born. From the seed of those two words a whole new life began, underground in the soil of life where I was protected and nurtured. The Oblate life, the charism and the introduction and invitation from Eugene de Mazenod – all the ingredients I needed (still need), mixed in the soil of community, shepherded and corralled by a way of living and prayer – that become part of my daily bread. The introduction to the Constitutions and Rules – the very words themselves that I thought would stifle and kill this new life within me were the way that would feed and lead me to more freedom of life and love. Daily invitations to go deeper into life even as the buds of the flowers of my life began to open. My roots constantly going deeper into the earth, into the heart of life while the flower grew into a tree that continued to reach up to the heavens with branches spreading out in all directions – to provide rest and comfort for the birds and shade for all from the heat of the sun. My leaves falling in the autumn to provide protection from the cold of winter for my roots which quietly and unseen continued to deepen as if to lay a base in all directions even as they wiggled their way through to the very centre of the planet.

    My roots and the trunk of my body like old trees – weathered and knarred – lots of imperfections, no longer smooth but with ridges of life, no longer hidden this scars of life – my branches bare as happens every winter. But I stand tall and there is beauty in my bare branches as dawn comes up – there is beauty for as I look at others, at their trees standing against the colours of a winter dawn I see only strength and perseverance, commitment and beauty, and freedom to simply reach to the sky, waiting for the new life of spring to come. There was once a small fence around me as if to keep me from growing, from new life.

    My commitment to God – lived out as I have been called. The commitments (some seemingly harsh while others were not so hard) that I have grown into, which have become a part of me – it is these precisely that have given me new springs, new life. Those Constitutions and Rules – they are part of the soil, the foundations and roots of who I become. All gift even as this mornings prayer is. And I thank you Lord for be so good as to plant me where you have. I could ask for nothing more.

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