In the words of the Preface, Eugene answers the question:
Who is it decreed the foundation of our Congregation? This is what our Constitutions teach me:
« … the Church, inheritance purchased by Christ the Savior… has in our days been cruelly ravaged. This beloved spouse of God’s only begotten Son is torn with anguish as she mourns the shameful defection … etc. Faced with such a deplorable situation, the Church earnestly appeals to the ministers etc… »
Is it surprising that the sight of these disorders inspired a certain generous thought? There appeared some priests who were touched by it.
“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.
May they remember what grace inspired them with. It meant nothing less than making an offering of themselves: “that they are willing to give their lives, if need be, for the salvation of souls”.
Nothing being loftier than this offering, what do I conclude? It is that nothing should seem difficult, or too painful, when one has given oneself as an offering.
Retreat notes, October 1831, EO XV n. 163