The Missionaries, dedicated to the process of rebuilding the post-revolution Church of France, dedicated their lives to bringing these abandoned victims of the revolution into the fullness of communion with Jesus Christ and the members of his Body. In order to be effective, it was necessary to have a clear analysis of the situation they were wanting to respond to through their ministry.
To achieve some measure of success in this holy endeavor, we must first of all seek out the causes of the depravity which is presently making men slaves of their passions.
We can synthesis them under three headings:
1. The weakening, if not the total loss, of faith.
2. Ignorance among the people.
3. Laziness, indifference and corruption among the priests.
This third cause must be considered as the main one and the root of the other two.
Eugene continues to explain why he regards the failure of the priests to live up to their ideals as the principal cause of the sad condition of the Church in France:
The truth of the matter is that for a century already, through devilish tactics, an effort has been made to undermine the foundations of religion in the hearts and minds of the people. It is truer still that the French Revolution has made an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of this iniquitous work.
Nevertheless, if the clergy had remained firmly that which they should never have ceased being, religion would have sustained the blow and not only would it have withstood this terrible shock, but it would have triumphed over all these attacks and would have emerged from the conflict even more beautiful and glorious.
Once these causes have become known, it becomes easier to apply remedies to them.
1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Nota Bene.
Missions, 78 (1951) p. 15
Example moves the world more than doctrine. The great exemplars are the poets of action, and it makes little difference whether they be forces for good or forces for evil.