In our exploration of the 1818 Rule , we have seen how Eugene set out the goals of the Missionaries: preach the Gospel to the most abandoned, make up for the loss of the Orders and to correct the ravages caused by corrupt priests. Then 15 pages follow on the preaching of parish missions. [These have been dealt with in detail in the entries above from November 6, 2010 to March 26, 2011]
The following section of the Rule is entitled “Other exercises – Preaching.” He situates what he is about to say on the topic of preaching within the context of the ends of the Congregation that he has dealt with before:
Since the end of the Institute is not only to give missions, but also to replace, insofar as our weak means permit, the religious orders and to repair the evils that have crept in among the clergy..
He then comes to the heart of everything – the message that he constantly hammers home as being the only possible secret of the success of preaching:
all should be persuaded that it is easier to achieve this end by example than by words. Hence, we must convince ourselves that it is indispensable that we should practice all the virtues, and not be unacquainted with any of them.
Said in other words, Eugene is saying: who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.
…Since there is nothing more reliable than the preaching of the word of God and the wise administration of the sacrament of penance, all will take pains to fit themselves for the worthy discharge of these important works.
1818 Rule Part 1, Chapter 3, §1 Preaching
“Modern people listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers.” Pope Paul VI, (Evangelii nuntiandi n. 41)