Eugene wrote: “But for us, our principal end, I would almost say our only end, is the self-same end that Jesus Christ proposed to himself on coming into the world, the self-same end that he gave to the Apostles, to whom, without any doubt, he taught the most perfect way… Let me delineate some of the features that emerge of the image of high perfection required of us by our Rules:”
Priests … solidly grounded in virtue … deeply conscious of the need to reform themselves … striving seriously to be saints … seeking at all times to reach the very summit of perfection. They must walk courageously along the same paths trodden before them by so many apostolic laborers for the Gospel … who… handed on such splendid examples of virtue…
The missionaries will try to bring back to life in their own lives the piety and fervor of these holy religious orders; they will strive to replace the virtues [as well as the ministries], and the most holy customs of the regular life which were kept by them, such as the practice of the evangelical counsels, love of solitude, contempt for worldly honors, withdrawal from frivolities, abhorrence of riches, practice of mortification, the public recitation of the divine office. If anyone wishes to be one of us, he must have an ardent desire for his own perfection.
It has already been said that the missionaries ought, as far as human nature allows, to imitate in everything the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the chief founder of our Society, and that of his Apostles-our first fathers.
We will meditate on the virtues of our Lord Jesus Christ, for these should be exemplified in the life of our members. Every month they will choose one particular virtue that they will endeavor to practice with ever-increasing fidelity.
They will … spread abroad everywhere the fragrance of his lovable virtues.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille and to the Fathers and Brothers at Billens, 3 November 1831, EO VIII n 406