When Eugene had lived in Aix, he had made the Oblate church a center of mission where people flocked to be nourished by the solid preaching and by prayer and the reception of the sacraments. He insists that the Oblates try to restore this situation.

Try also, without too much fuss, to restore popularity to our church. Where will they ever glorify more the good God in Aix? The demon well knows that, it is why he has done everything to take the faithful away from it,

Aix, as a mission center, was a place where people came on a Sunday night to receive a solid instruction on their faith. Since his departure the quality of instruction had changed, in favour of general sermons. He points our that the people have a need for instruction – to be taught more and more about their faith.

but I would wish that you perfect the kind of instruction that we give there on Sunday. In my time, I gave conferences which were very useful to instruct and to bring people to God: the church then was not big enough to contain the faithful who flocked from all parts of the city; since they have started giving sermons, there is no longer anyone. I am very annoyed not to be at Aix myself for the close of the Jubilee; we would have arranged to do something about it. I would very much like us to teach catechism with an hour glass on the table; they need instruction. The evening service has not been for a long time the way I used to do it. Substance and tone have both changed. They now give a sort of little sermon. That is not what I had in mind. They spend too much time on it and take too much trouble, all to no avail.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 30 March 1826, EO VII n 233


“If God has given you the world’s goods in abundance, it is to help you gain those of Heaven and to be a good example of sound teaching to your sons, servants, and relatives.”   Saint Ignatius

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I have struggled with this today, in respect to how it can apply to my life, how I can live what Eugene seems to be telling us. I find that as I come to this place of prayer and reflection each morning I must read the words and then just sit with them allowing them to enter my heart and show me the message that is being said. Just as a person who is blind must allow and rely on others to lead him or her to specific places and events, so it seems with these reflections I must allow God and others to lead me to where I am going. It is not always an easy journey for I need to let go of so much before I can be led. To have so little control of even my thoughts…….

    As I have sat here I have remembered the great joy and freedom that has come over the years in learning more about my Church and God. Because of circumstances in my life I was unable to learn and take in much of the early teaching that I was given. I was unable to memorize names and dates, the words of the Commandments and other stuff like that. I did not dare to ask questions. And, as I grew older my attitudes so very often got in the way and I was unable to fully ‘hear’ what was being taught, being given to me – even at Sunday Masses. Today I am more able, thanks be to God, to take in what is being given to me. My parish, which is very much a real base for me, is a centre of mission as I think St. Eugene was speaking about. I take part and myself learn and am nourished in so many ways, but also there are areas where I can help to nourish another(s) and thus preach (not from the pulpit but just as I walk through life). Not the first thing I think of when using the word ‘preaching’, but I think it goes further than just being up at the ambo and giving a ‘Sunday homily’.

    Two hundred years ago it seems to be that Eugene wanted his brothers, his sons to do more than just give a very ‘nice and perfect’ talk at the ambo each Sunday. Today it is no different and I think that he would like his sons and daughters to live as he did, fully involved, able to give of themselves fully and instructing in the many ways that he did, touching the areas of our lives. What a wondrous gift from God to be able to see daily how this spirit of life that is Eugene, is Oblate, is fully relevant and alive today in each of us. We do not need an excuse to give thanks.

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