In 1816 Eugene sketched a plan of the vision of the new group of missionaries. In 1818 he developed the vision into a practical rule of life. The next step was to present this Rule to the Pope to receive the Church’s approval. This happened in 1826 after the Rule of Life had been adjusted somewhat after 10 years of lived experience.
The spirit of the original vision was now expressed in a special way in the first part of the Rule, in the section known as the “Preface.” Here are a few extracts:
… The sight of these evils has so touched the hearts of certain priests, zealous for the glory of God, men with an ardent love for the Church, that they are willing to give their lives, if need be, for the salvation of souls.
… How, indeed, did our Lord Jesus Christ proceed when he undertook to convert the world? He chose a number of apostles and disciples whom he himself trained in piety, and he filled them with his Spirit. These men he sent forth, once they had been schooled in his teaching, to conquer the world which, before long, was to bow to his holy rule.
And how should men who want to follow in the footsteps of their divine Master Jesus Christ conduct themselves if they, in their turn, are to win back the many souls who have thrown off his yoke? They must strive to be saints…
… We must spare no effort to extend the Savior’s empire and to destroy the dominion of hell. We must check the manifold evils of sin and establish the honored observance of every virtue. We must lead men to act like human beings, first of all, and then like Christians, and, finally, we must help them to become saints.
… Such are the great works of salvation that can crown the efforts of priests whom God has inspired with the desire to form themselves into a Society in order to work more effectively for the salvation of souls and for their own sanctification. To bring all this into being, they must carry out their duty worthily, faithfully fulfilling their splendid vocation.
“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” 1 Corinthians 1:2