Equilibrium and complementarity summarize the next section of our first Rule:

The Missionaries will divide their group in such a way that while some strive in community to acquire the virtues and knowledge proper to a good missionary, others are travelling in the rural areas proclaiming the Word of God.
 When their apostolic journeys are over, they will return to the community to rest from their labours by exercising a ministry that is less demanding, and to prepare themselves through meditation and study for a more fruitful ministry when next called upon to undertake new work.

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

 Equilibrium: Eugene wanted a balanced lifestyle of distinct moments of being nourished through prayer, study and a quieter community life in order to be missionaries with more energy, spirituality and knowledge. Unfortunately the zeal of the missionaries overturned this idyllic picture because they could not resist responding with generosity to every urgent need that moved them deeply. Their health was to suffer, and several died in their 20’s. Eugene himself led the pack in exhausting himself for the most abandoned, and on a number of occasions had to be banished by Henri Tempier into a forced rest and recuperation.

The ideal of this equilibrium was wise, and as Eugene got older and wiser we find him urging his Oblates to live by it. He himself as bishop had a demanding daily program as Pastor of the second-largest city of France and Superior General of an expanding missionary congregation – yet he was faithful to his daily times of prolonged prayer, study of Scripture and theology, set times to meet people in his office, and moments of rest.

 Complementarity, in that while one group was out in the countryside preaching, those of the community who remained supported them in work and prayer. The missionaries who were out preaching knew that their ministry was being supported and strengthened by the prayers of their brothers.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett says:

    Balance – equilibrium! When we are “most passionate” it is easy to rush off and “do” and yet without the balance of prayer and community mission may suffer.
    Equality – complementary! Sometimes we want to “go out”, we want to be missionaries and directly loving the most poor and abandoned – yet we are called directly to stay back within our community to love and support through prayer and a different kind of work. One cannot happen without the other. God gave each of us a unique and special way to live out the call to love. I dare say that one way is not less or more than the other, but rather they are equal in that they complement each other, cannot be done with out the other.

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