Eugene’s letters to his Oblates concentrated largely on practical issues regarding the missions – since they were the communications of the superior keeping the ship on course – however, underlying every counsel and practical aspect, one finds the most important facet of the life of the missionaries: their relationship with Christ the Saviour.
He spells out many details on how to achieve this:
I recommend you take it upon yourself to see that regularity is observed: oraison, examination of conscience, etc. Do not be men totally involved in exterior activities: let people not get the idea that you have no more than the prayer habits normal for a good priest. Such dissipation causes very great harm. The Saturday conference must be strictly observed. Nor must mortification be a virtue so hidden that one may get the impression you do not know it.
Do not forget that you are missionaries by profession, and consequently you have a Rule to observe during missions which is proper for that period, foreseen beforehand, already lived out, in a word, familiar to each one of you… This applies also to your behaviour that must be serious and reserved
Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 20 January 1837, O.W. IX, n. 603
Here was the secret of their success and Eugene was adamant on this at all times. Only insofar as they had imbued themselves with the life and virtues of Jesus Christ, were they capable of being successful missionaries – a theme echoed in our present Constitutions:
We are men “set apart for the Gospel” (Rom 1: 1), men ready to leave everything to be disciples of Jesus Christ. The desire to co-operate with him draws us to know him more deeply, to identify with him, to let him live in us. We strive to reproduce in ourselves the pattern of his life.