In order to be the “most united family” in the world, it was essential that all its members contribute to achieving this ideal:

With regard to the Society each member assumes the obligation of living in obedience to the superior and of observing the statutes and regulations.
 The Society is governed by a superior elected for life by its members and approved by the local Ordinary.

Request to the Capitular Vicars of Aix, 25 January 1816, O.W. XIII n.2

 Each member had to guarantee his adherence to the guiding vision and to his willingness to work at putting it into practice. For Eugene, the two principles to achieve this aim were always obedience and charity.

Obedience was to God in living out the charism and vision that God had given through the Founder. The superior of the community was the focal point, the sign and the one responsible for the practical living of that unity to ensure that all were on the same track in the quality of their religious life and in their missionary activities.

On 25 January 1816, the first day of our existence as a missionary society living in community, Eugene de Mazenod was elected Superior of the group with the mandate of ensuring charity and obedience. Henri Tempier recalls:

“The Founder was chosen spontaneously and unanimously in spite of the reasons he gave for declining the position. I think that we would immediately have dissolved had this not been the case”

Frs de P. H. Tempier, Mémoire: O.W. II-2, p. 181.

Thirty years later, we find Eugene continuing to hammer this guiding point to the first missionaries in the difficult mission in Jaffna:

Live in perfect unity, and may the bonds of charity and obedience soften the hardships that are inseparable from your difficult ministry.

Letter to Etienne Semeria,  17 August,1848, EO IV n 4


“When obedience to God contradicts what I think will give me pleasure, let me ask myself if I love God.”   Elisabeth Elliot

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The bonds of charity and obedience. How in the name of all that is holy do I as a lay person look at possibility living with those bonds? It seems an impossibility and yet there is still a desire to try. Far from limiting me I truly believe they will in the end be my liberation. Even as I write this I find myself hard-pressed to find words that adequately explain or describe what my heart feels. I read this and find myself turning to the Constitutions and Rules – to R37a; “Lay people recognize that they are called to share in the charism according to their state in life, and to live it in ways that vary according to milieu and cultures. They share in the charism in a spirit of communion and reciprocity amongst themselves and with the Oblates.”

    Can this apply also to the Rule of Life – for sure most imperfectly but as they apply? Can I try to do this in ‘spirit’ – in this great family that I have come to be a part of, in my home, in my parish community, with those that I volunteer with, in whatever places I find myself? It seems impossibly hard, but little by little I suspect this will be my salvation, this will be what brings me home, what leads me to where I am called ‘to be’.

    The bonds of charity and obedience. The word tenderness comes to me for they are to be bonds that are woven with threads of tenderness. This is not meant as giving away myself, my soul and who I am but rather coming into myself, who I am. It is paradoxical that I struggled so hard in the first half of my life with those two words: charity and obedience and now there is a hunger for living them out.

    I suppose some would not be happy to know what I am drawn to. But it is a bit like the Cross. This is where I find life. Like the bonds of charity and obedience which are not big and noticeable my trying to live in this way is also invisible, not flashy. Can I ever thank God and Eugene enough for their invitations to me? Bonds of charity and obedience indeed! Who would have thought it.

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