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

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Having spent last week at convocation I begin this week with a deeper appreciation and love of our priests, of our Oblate priests. They have been and continue to be ‘priests’ in every sense of the word as Eugene uses it, as he lived it along with his founding community. And today, 200 years later and I see his words, his way, his spirit, his gifts – all being lived out to the fullest. The beauty of being in the midst of such a family, witnessing to and giving witness. The struggles, the achievements…

    At convocation I witnessed and took part in the risks that were taken, the daring and the ordinary, the struggles and the joys – they did not all look the same and yet I recognized them. None was a threat to the other, rather a complementing.

    I read what Eugene has written and look again at these people who I have come to know – how they have been invited to live, how they have committed themselves how they give total witness to Jesus, our crucified Saviour and to his disciples. Not only as priests – I think of Eugene and how he was with his family, friends, brothers – each with different roles, different threads being woven into the tapestry.

    This Mazenodian Family that Eugene has invited me to become a part of – not as a priest or brother, or an Oblata, simply as a very ordinary lay person, an Oblate Associate, a Lay Oblate. This is where God has called me to be, how I am called to be. I read again the words Eugene wrote to the men at Billens, and this is how I too strive to live, how I too try to share in Eugene’s spirit, his charism.

    Something has been happening with me over the last six months, and most certainly in this past week at convocation. Where once there were walls with doors which had to be unlocked and opened there are now bridges – not bridges over never-ending chasms but simply small bridges of the type one finds as they walk with others through the garden of life. Some of those walls and locked doors I had built myself for any number of reasons, and others were built by others – a part of our journeys and struggles.

    I rejoice this morning in the beauty of all of our calls, and in particular mine – for this is what God has chosen for me. I am not alone for each of us has a most beautiful call. This magnificent family that I have become a part of – the beauty of our call – I celebrate that I can read what Eugene wrote as a priest, to priests and find myself in there. The immensity and awe of recognizing the beauty of our calls.

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