With the establishment of a second community, at a considerable distance from Aix, Eugene’s major concern was to ensure that the same God-given spirit was maintained in both communities. For this reason he appointed Henri Tempier as superior. He knew that Tempier had understood the founding spirit thoroughly and always referred to him as my other self (alter ego), and insisted:

Maintain in everything a most exact discipline; you are beginning to form a community in regularity, do not let abuses creep in…

Letter to Henri Tempier, 22 February 1819, O.W. VI n. 40

The concept of “regularity” now begins to make a systematic appearance in Eugene’s writings. It has nothing to do with the English expression of “being as regular as clockwork.” In Eugene’s usage it is connected with the Latin “regula” and the French word “règle” referring to the Rule of the Missionaries. “Regularity” meant being faithful to the precepts and spirit of the Rule. In English we would say “keep the Rule always in mind” or always be faithful to the Rule.

Being faithful necessitated a discipline, and it was this that Eugene was charging Henri Tempier to insist on from the beginning of the life of the new community. The purpose of this discipline was to form the habit of living everything by the spirit of the Rule. An unknown author captures the character that Eugene wanted his Missionaries to achieve through regularity:

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “Habits become your character”. This is so true in all parts of our lives. As I grew up I learned by repetition, I practiced the scales on the piano – over and over again – until I knew them without thinking. I would read something – over and over again – until it became a part of me. There were rules and guidelines through out my life – they too became a part of me – they help to shape and form me. They all eventually became a part of who I am and freed me up to be who God had created me to be.

    Earlier in these postings there was a series of pieces about the Youth Group – and all of the rules and practices that Eugene laid out for them and I remember at first reading them that it sounded pretty heavy and onerous. However that changed to understanding of the what and the why of it.

    I have spent the last two months visiting with some of the Districts in our Province. And in each place there was an instant recognition that was more than the crosses being worn or the words of our liturgies. It was more than the personalities because with some I was meeting them for the first time. These very rules and habits, how we live our lives and share in the charism, how we are community and family, these are some of what identify us and say who we are.

    Again I am struck by the wisdom of Eugene, of what he knew would be needed.

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