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. http://www.countrymonks.us/?p=1615)