At a first glance these words, written to Henri Tempier who was the superior of the community of Laus, could appear to be those of an autocratic controlling superior who wanted the last word in everything.

… You must not put up with and still less authorize practices that are so contrary to good order. Have we become a republic or a representative government? Does it pertain to you to establish new usages and has the community of Notre Dame du Laus the right to deliberate, to present the least thing even in a body? Certainly not. So everything that has been done must be regarded as null, as an abuse and diametrically contrary to the spirit of our Constitutions.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 13 March 1821, EO VI n. 63

 They are in fact the words of a man who was convinced that the foundation of the Missionaries of Provence had come from God. It was under the inspiration of God that this group had come into existence, and it was under the guidance of God that the spirit of this group had been expressed and enshrined in the Rule of 1818. Together, in their General Chapter meeting they had discerned God’s will for them and had accepted the Rule as its expression. For this reason they could not make arbitrary changes.

Each community was bound to this Rule and could not regard itself as an “independent republic.” There was only one spirit for the Missionaries and each community was bound to live according to it. Eugene’s major preoccupation was his responsibility to God to faithfully maintain what had been trust entrusted to his care.

This was a critical time for the Missionaries as they were starting a third community and it was essential to maintain the same family spirit in each one. They did not have the means of instant communication that we have today, thus the way of ensuring unity was by following the letter of the Rule.

Today, our Rule of Life continues Eugene’s concern for unity when it speaks of the Superior General and his council:

Their first concern is the Oblates’ fidelity as a Congregation to the missionary thrust which is our Spirit-given heritage from the Founder.

CC&RR, Constitution 131


“Leadership is the transference of vision.”       Hal Reed

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I feel like I am being drawn into some ‘unchartered waters’ as I try to express my understanding and agreement with todays writings. I find there is often a temptation today (perhaps just as some of them did back in 1821) to change things (small or big) because they don’t quite fit, or because I am uncomfortable with wording or practices or the “true meaning and ideas behind” particular practices. I may want to bend them so they fit more with my idea or abilities. There may well be some outside suggestions (that come under the guise of caring pressure) to alter even the basic wording of some of our prayers and how we say them. There is very often the excuse that we are better educated today than we ever were, that we have a better understanding and knowledge of God and what God really wants. And, as you said Frank, we have instant communications and seem constantly to be able to ‘be in touch’, so today it’s so very easy to seem to come together, without really listening to what all of the others may or may not be saying.

    I know that for myself there is always the temptation to point the finger at something or someone outside of myself. I guess that I truly believe that we/I truly need to ‘sit in and with’ whatever it is (and so often this is not a comfortable or easy place to be). Prayer,truth, discernment and consensus (right word?) are clearly required. But mostly it must ‘be of God’ and not necessarily what “I” want to be of God. It’s not an easy thing – to have a vision and then to try to follow that through, to remain true to it.

    How today will I follow that vision set out by Eugene? How will I, a lay woman, live the charism, without trying to dilute it down or make it ‘all mine’? How today will I speak the truth and not just ‘go with the flow’, sit in whatever the discomfort is and discover who or what I am co-operating with?

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