It is said that the “habit does not make the monk” – but what Eugene is getting at in this article of the Rule is that our exterior appearance can be an indication of an inner attitude.
The missionary will never be allowed to curl his hair, or to wear buckles on his shoes, or rings on his fingers. Everything on and about him ought to be of the greatest simplicity.
1818 Rule, Part Two, Chapter One. Regarding other principal observances
Years ago I remember the old-timer Oblates always expressing their amusement about the prohibition of having buckles on their shoes [it refers to the ornate silver buckles worn by the 19th century clergy who were affluent], and so it is with a smile that I put this in today. Fashions have changed in two hundred years, but the heart of this rule is still important.
What I hear Eugene saying is: do not imitate some of the ostentatious priests of his time, who were more concerned about their looks and keeping up with the fashions than with their inner state and the quality of their life and message. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33
Today’s Oblate Rule states the same principle:
We are to avoid all luxury, all appearance of luxury, all immoderate gain and accumulation of possessions. Subject to the common law of labour, and each in his own way contributing to the support of the community and its apostolate, we gladly accept the fact of not having at our disposal the comforts we might like.
CC&RR, Constitution 21
“As I grew older, I realized that it was much better to insist on the genuine forms of nature, for simplicity is the greatest adornment of art.” Albrecht Durer