In our exploration of the 1818 Rule , we have seen how Eugene set out the goals of the Missionaries: preach the Gospel to the most abandoned, make up for the loss of the Orders and to correct the ravages caused by corrupt priests. Then 15 pages follow on the preaching of parish missions.

The following section of the Rule is entitled “Other exercises – Preaching.” He situates what he is about to say on the topic of preaching within the context of the ends of the Congregation that he has dealt with before:

Since the end of the Institute is not only to give missions, but also to replace, insofar as our weak means permit, the religious orders and to repair the evils that have crept in among the clergy

He then comes to the heart of everything – the message that he constantly hammers home as being the only possible secret of the success of preaching:

all should be persuaded that it is easier to achieve this end by example than by words. Hence, we must convince ourselves that it is indispensable that we should practice all the virtues, and not be unacquainted with any of them.

Said in other words, Eugene is saying: who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.

…Since there is nothing more reliable than the preaching of the word of God and the wise administration of the sacrament of penance, all will take pains to fit themselves for the worthy discharge of these important works.

1818 Rule Part 1, Chapter 3, §1 Preaching

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “…they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love…” To what or to whom do I give witness to? Is there a sharp edge to my ‘love’ – is it buried so deep beneath prickly thorns (of anger and hurt) as to be totally hidden? Do I belittle and deride or do I build up and praise. Do I speak and express myself to make me feel good about myself or do my words point to another, one much greater than myself? I think for a moment of John the Baptist who said that he was sent simply to prepare the way for another.

    Jesus died for all. I look at some of the greatest messages that came out of Vatican II – a Church that is for all, in and with and through God for all. And we have Eugene, our Founder, canonized on this day – December 3rd 1995 – 23 years ago; how he gave witness through his whole life!

    For many of us who are a part of this Mazenodian Family – this day commemorates something that reminds me of Vatican II – he was named as saint for all of us, his charism, his gift of the spirit belongs to the whole Church and we get to share in it. This has become our birthright!

    Eugene, a most human of saints – what he shares with all of us, his sons and daughters! Eugene’s words speak to us today, in the Constitutions and Rules, in how we are all sent as missionaries – by each other, to each other and further out. How we take part in the sacraments, preaching them, living them out and administering them – our lives speak volumes. Words can point the way, but living them out takes us past walls and boundaries, past the sharp edges of wounded hearts and the pain of prickly thorns.

    Today is a day for all of us to celebrate and give thanks to God for having called each of us in a very particular way to be missionaries, to share in the Mazenodian Spirituality, to be sent out and to preach with our words and our lives.

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