The remedy to the tragic situation of the Church – and specifically to the harm done by the “laziness, indifference and corruption among the priests” –  proposed by Eugene is that of the good example of the priests. “Example is leadership,” said Albert Schweitzer – and it was difficult to find anyone more convinced of this than Eugene himself.

We recognize the familiar foundational themes that he constantly came back to: in the footsteps of the apostles, “be” in order to “do”, “all for God” etc.:

The achieving of this end will require the forming of apostles, who, after having become convinced of the necessity of their own reform: “take care about what you do,” should work with all their strength to convert others:
 “Take great care about what you do and what you teach and thus you will save both yourself and those who listen to you” (I Timothy 4:16).
And as we have seen that the real source of the evil is the indifference, the avarice and corruption of the priests, once these abuses will have been reformed, the others will cease as well.
See to it that you have zealous, altruistic and solidly virtuous priests and soon you will bring back to the fold the people who have wandered away from their duties.

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Nota Bene.
Missions, 78 (1951) p. 15

In 1818 he was writing this for his own Missionary priests. In 1826 this text was modified into what today we know as the “Preface” addressed to all the members of the Mazenodian family. If we want to make a difference to the 21st century, the same principles still apply: people must be able to recognize in the quality of our lives that which we preach to others.


“Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.”           Abraham Lincoln

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The past few days I seem to find some similarities in the church of today and the church of Eugene’s time. Different and yet so similar. I do not always like or agree with some of the rulings that seem to come “down” from Rome, however I continue to love and be a part of the church that God gave to me. I believe that we are called in this time to remain faithful to God even when it might seem we are walking in total darkness as we call out his name. He will guide us as we continue to love, as we remain faithful and share his love with those around us.

    In my life I have always been attracted to those people who were truly “alive” – those who loved God in everything they did – some were “on fire” just as Eugene and his early missionaries were. They set an example and always I found myself being drawn to them, wanting whatever it was that they had and wanting to try to be/live like them. They have all inspired me. They were faithful to the call of God and to loving no matter what. It was visible and it helped me to find God in so much, to see his love. Eugene’s love of God was so alive, so much a burning fire in his life that many of his words touched me personally.

    Just as I saw people who I wanted to emulate, so now hopefully others will see the love of God reflected in me and how I try to live. I, we, are all called to carry that fire and to walk on the sometimes dim or dark pathways through life, letting the fire be a light to others who also journey with us.

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