While in Marseille, Tempier was entrusted by Eugene with the task of doing a “visitation” of the community of Missionaries at the Calvaire. The term “canonical visitation” in religious life refers to an official visit and review of the life of a community by a major superior or someone delegated by him. It was not meant to be a subjective inspection on the part of the superior, but rather a community evaluation of how faithfully the Missionaries were living their charism in their spiritual and community life, and how this was expressed in their missionary activities. The only guideline was the Rule of Life that they had drawn up and accepted in 1818. Thus it was fidelity to this Rule and its spirit that was insisted on unceasingly.
It is urgent to establish the Rule as having to be observed everywhere and by all.
A part of the smooth running of a community and its mission consisted on keeping registers and records. Eugene particularly wanted each community to keep an historical record (‘codex historicus”) of its activities for future reference. Historians today regret that the Oblates of the past were always too busy with ministry to keep their records up to date, and so there are many gaps in our knowledge of the history of our Mazenodian family.
Besides other things, do not neglect the prescribed registers, in one of which you will trace the history of our establishment at Marseilles going back therein as far as the mission[ed. the city mission conducted in 1820].
Letter to Henri Tempier, 3 April 1823, EO VI n 101
Today’s Oblate Rule of Life continues to echo these sentiments of Eugene:
Each Oblate through his oblation assumes responsibility for the common heritage of the Congregation, expressed in the Constitutions and Rules and our family tradition. He is exhorted to let himself be guided by these norms in creative fidelity to the legacy bequeathed by St. Eugene de Mazenod.
CC&RR, Constitution 168
“It’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them.” T. S. Eliot