So far our exploration of the 1818 Rule has looked at the first part, which was the “why” of the Missionaries. We have seen how in this section Eugene explained their mission and ministry in detail. The next section, entitled “The Particular Obligations of the Missionaries” could be summed up as dealing with the question of “how to BE” in order “to DO.”
In 1818 they introduced the commitment to religious life through the profession of three vows: chastity, obedience and perseverance. The vow of poverty was only introduced a few years later; nevertheless, Eugene began this section on the vows with a presentation on the “spirit of poverty.”
Voluntary poverty has been regarded by the founders of religious orders as the foundation and support of all perfection, as the impregnable fortification of religion, and as the virtue that disposes us to acquire more easily the other virtues and to devote ourselves to good works.
1818 Rule, Part Two, The Particular Obligations of the Missionaries.
Chapter One. §1. The Spirit of Poverty. Missions, 78 (1951) p. 44.
To appreciate Eugene’s insistence we need to go back to his conversion. Experiencing the love of God, the only response possible for him was that of oblation: to live “all for God.” The spirit of poverty was that of emptying himself in order to “BE” fully the instrument/co-operator of the Savior. No half-measures for him!
All who were called to follow in Eugene’s ideal of oblation were asked to do likewise. Today this spirit continues to be expressed in our Rule of Life:
Our mission requires that, in a radical way, we follow Jesus who was chaste and poor and who redeemed mankind by his obedience. That is why, through a gift of the Father, we choose the way of the evangelical counsels.
CC&RR, Constitution 12
“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” Lao Tzu