If we wish to achieve the same results as the Apostles and the first followers of the Gospel, we must use the same means as they, and this all the more because we do not have the power to perform miracles and so we must bring back those who have gone astray by the splendor of our virtues.

Eugene notes one difference between the apostles and the Missionaries: the ability to perform physical miracles to support and confirm their preaching. Thus they have to support and confirm their preaching through the quality of their lives – through the “splendor of our virtues.” The example of their lives had to shine and speak by itself.

The word “virtue” can be dangerous because it could denote an unhealthy introspection. In popular understanding today, “virtue” can have the connotation that it is only through my efforts that I make myself good. Yet the spirit that the Missionaries found in the Gospels and in the apostles was that of “being” so that God could be allowed to do the work. Miracles of salvation are produced by God, and not by my efforts.

The example of countless Oblate Missionaries who put their lives and talents at the service of God is proof that the “splendor of their virtues” is a missionary characteristic: Saint Eugene, Blessed Joseph Gerard, Joseph Cebula and the Spanish Martyrs have been officially recognized for their allowing God to work through them. The list is long and includes thousands of names like Grandin, Charlebois, Brother Anthony, Maronic, Hurley, Jetté, Mauricio Lefebvre, Borzaga etc. The list is long, and it inspires us to be active and generous missionaries.

I am embarrassed as I pen these lines. Alas! No one understands better than I do that it is easier to teach by word than by example

Letter to M. Arbaud, Vicar General of Digne, January 1819, O.W. XIII n.2


Pray as if everything depends on God; work as if everything depends on you.” St. Augustine

“Pray as if everything depends upon yourself; work as though everything depends on God.”    St Ignatius of Loyola            (cf.

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  1. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    Dear Frank:
    Your reflections where spot on. Thank you.
    Yes, we/I can do and get caught up in doing good thing and then “let them shine”. The issue with that is that our/my “ego” then gets in the way (like an eclipse). The icon to follow is the life of John the Baptist who we will be reading from this Sunday on his feast day. “he must increase and I decrease”. It is when we put our stuff/agendas to the side and are vulnerable/real that the virtue/light can freely shine.
    And to tell our family stories is a great way to learn ourselves. We will be doing that in the novitiate this year.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    For the past two weeks I have had the privilege and the joy ov visiting two separate Districts of SOblates, both the professed Oblates and the Oblate Associates. There has been a going out and a coming back. Today has been a coming back to home, to my immediate community and so as the plane touched down on the run way I thanked God – not only for successful trips but for bringing me home. And although I am tired I am also a little rejuvenated or renewed. I spent time with my Oblate family , heard some of their stories and saw their love for each other. I witnessed their great love for God and how they continue to live that out – in the “being” of their every day lives. It was being able to see the many great virtues of their lives in the small and the ordinary. To have witnessed and been asked to share in a small part of a “shining example of life that speaks for itself”. It has been a grace and a joy (that although not expected it was) and for that I give thanks.

  3. John Mouck says:

    In this regard, I think I have an advantage, as an associate, over you Oblate priests.

    I live in poverty and I have no special theological or psychological training and yet people seem to want me to listen to them and value what I have to say. This always amazes me.
    I know that whatever wisdom or understanding or peace my presence brings them is not intentional; it comes from within but it is not my “within,” it is from The Power within me.
    You, on the other hand, have chosen your mission and trained yourself for this. You are bound to feel pride and satisfaction and step back to admire your successes.

    Like that Mac Davis song says, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble…”

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