In their Rule, the missionaries note their desire to live a life of equilibrium that includes the importance of prayer and study so as not to be empty vessels with nothing to give when they are on mission:
If they preferred to form a regular community of Missionaries, it is in an effort to be useful to the diocese, while at the same time working at their own sanctification in conformity with their vocation.
Thus their life will be spent in prayer, in meditating the sacred truths, in practising the virtues of religion, in studying Sacred Scripture, the holy Fathers, dogmatic and moral theology, in preaching and in the direction of youth.
Request to the Capitular Vicars of Aix, 25 January 1816, O.W. XIII n.2
As I reflect on these words of our first Rule, I am animating a 30 day silent retreat at Notre Dame de Lumière for 10 Oblate missionaries who preach the Gospel in 7 countries. Before we began the retreat they made a presentation on their particular missions during the Mission Sunday Masses in Aix and here at the shrine– each one showing how the Oblates try to be co-operators of the Saviour among the most-abandoned. These men need courage and stamina and vision to continue to do what they are doing in difficult situations –and now they are doing an intensive retreat to recharge their energy so as to continue being life-giving missionaries.
Here I see illustrated exactly what Eugene and his first companions intended: a life of equilibrium between receiving and giving. The missionaries need to receive through prayer, study and reflection so as to have something of value to share through their mission. Without this equilibrium they become clanging cymbals with nothing of substance to offer in their evangelizing activities and without the ability to be evangelised themselves by those who are the most abandoned.