The Constitutions and Rules of a religious congregation are not a set of laws to be slavishly obeyed so as to maintain good order and perfect obedience in the congregation.
Each founder lives her or his life according to a particular Gospel inspiration (in Eugene’s case it was the Good Friday experience of Jesus as Savior). The founder lives and shares this vision with others, who then want to be a part of the life and mission of the institute. At a certain moment, the founding community puts into writing its experience of having lived this Gospel vision so that succeeding generations will be able to enter into this same experience and same spirit. A Rule of Life is all about handing on the founding spirit and vision within the context of an ever-changing world and its demands.
The Rule of a Congregation is the Gospel perceived, lived and shared under a particular aspect. For Eugene it was the viewpoint of the Savior – and of the vocation of the Oblates being “co-operators of the Savior” and bringing the most abandoned to that same experience of being saved. Today we recognize the vocation of all the members of the Mazenodian Family to be co-operators of the Savior.
In this light we can understand Eugene’s insistence of absolute fidelity to the Rule (= to a life of “regularity”)
The only appropriate expression of the gratitude we owe God for this miracle is a firm resolution to walk always in his presence according to our vocation, in the exact observance of our Rules.
Letter to Bruno Guigues, 3 September 1834, EO VIII n 485