How to make this ideal a reality in the lives of the people the Missionaries were serving? Their methodology had three steps:
to make men reasonable
and finally to help them become saints.
1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One, §3. Nota Bene.
Missions, 78 (1951) p. 16
Firstly, it was necessary to come into contact with the human reality of each one.
“The Word became human and made his home among us” (John 1:14).
The people described in the Nota Bene were “wallowing in ignorance” about God and their faith. Through their preaching and teaching the Missionaries aimed at helping them to reflect and make decisions about their lives in a rational way. Over the course of 200 years Eugene and the Oblates have interpreted this call in a wider sense as referring to all the aspects connected with the human welfare of the person. The history of the actions of the Mazenodian Family continue to bear witness to this in five continents.
Secondly, to help people to become more deeply Christian by “teaching them who Jesus Christ is” and inviting them to enter into a life-giving relationship with God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Finally, the call to help people to become heroic in their response to God.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:13-14).
To become saints – to be so fully imbued with the values of the Kingdom of God so as to share its fullness in the Resurrection. Saint Eugene, Blessed Joseph Gerard, Blessed Joseph Cebula, and the Blessed Martyrs of Spain have been officially recognized as being saints.
Eugene was convinced that everyone who lived the Rule fully was assured of a share in the fullness of the Kingdom. These were three steps necessary to achieve this: human, Christian and then saints.
Today these three steps continue to be present in our approach to evangelization:
We will always be close to the people with whom we work, taking into account their values and aspirations…
…we strive to bring all people – especially the poor – to full consciousness of their dignity as human beings and as sons and daughters of God.
CC&RR, Constitution 8
“I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us. He dances that shape and pattern which is at the heart of our reality.” Sydney Carter