The Rule was written in 1818 as an attempt to review the experiences that the Missionaries had lived for nearly three years and to draw out basic principles for the future. The Nota Bene continues Eugene’s description of the post-revolution Church of France and forms the point of focus for their lived experience.
How vast the field that lies before them! How worthy an undertaking!
The people are wallowing in crass ignorance of all that pertains to their salvation.
The consequence of this ignorance has been a weakening, if not a total obliteration of the faith and the corruption of morals.
The response of the Missionaries was to teach people their dignity as members of the Body of Christ, the Church – each member of which Jesus had shed his blood for:
It is therefore urgent to bring back the multitude of those sheep who have strayed from the fold,
How to do this?
To preach and instruct people and invite them into relationship with Jesus the Savior. This was the aim of every sermon and missionary activity. This was the vocation of the Missionary:
to teach these degenerate Christians who Jesus Christ is,
The purpose of the hours and hours spent in the sacrament of confession during each parish mission, and in the permanent mission in Aix, are also reflected here:
to snatch them from the slavery of the demon
and to show them the way to heaven,
to extend the Savior’s empire, to destroy the reign of hell, to prevent millions of mortal sins,
to hold virtues in honor and to see to it that they are practiced in all their varied forms…
1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One, §3. Nota Bene. Missions, 78 (1951) p. 16
In the writing of the Rule the Missionaries read and interpreted what they were already doing and set out the basic principles for the spirit of their future actions. Today we continue to be guided by this spirit:
We will spare no effort to awaken or to reawaken the faith in the people to whom we are sent, and we will help them to discover “who Christ is”. Our mission puts us on constant call to respond to the most urgent needs of the Church through various forms of witness and ministry, but especially through proclaiming the Word of God which finds its fulfilment in the celebration of the sacraments and in service to others.
CC&RR, Constitution 7