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

This entry was posted in LETTERS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    There is so much here again today to focus on. I am thinking of the following of the Rules – with a plain, simple obedience. I cannot believe I am saying this and yet it is where I am at. I think of the Constitution and Rules, which I as an Associate do not need to follow, but which I do look at [usually here or when I am checking something] and see how they might apply to me and my life. Not because I have been told to, or just because they are “Oblate”, but more because I find in them the wisdom of and the love of Eugene – they fit, they are right somehow.

    I am thinking of the Psalm from this morning “He heals the brokenhearted; He binds up all their wounds.” I do not think I have ever reflected upon that Psalm but this morning I pondered on what it means to bind a wound, and be healed. Any kind of wound, interior and physical. If it is bound it does not fester and spread, it begins the mending process. It is freeing, it allows us to then live, fully, as we were created to. So too with the Rules – they do not “bind” us as in holding us back from anything, tying us down and hindering us, they do not stifle us. Rather they become a part of us, of who we are and so free us to become the persons that God created; to live out the life God created us for.

    And there are fruits from that. I am thinking of the writings of Eugene and the others, of all the registers that were kept faithfully. We know who we are when we can look and see where we come from, when we can look and see who has come before us. We all share in some way “Oblate” hearts, connecting us with those who came before us, those around us now and those who will come in the future. But we need to know what the Spirit, the charism is that we share before we can live it.

    The freedom that comes from following the Rules, from living a specific and intentional way is what will ‘ensure the creative fidelity in the life of our community(s), of our family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *