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