Father Mille lived and ministered in Switzerland in areas of mixed religion, and where some of the Protestants were strongly anti-Catholic. Eugene encourages discretion in the approach of the Oblates.

I think Father Guibert has written you that he thinks it would do Father Hermite good to go out occasionally on a mission. He must have given you his advice about the leader you would be well-advised to name. Whoever it is, I urge him to be very prudent in the matter.
This is especially necessary in the mixed localities that you evangelise. Don’t direct your efforts to converting Protestants. All the better for them if they profit from our passage, but don’t have them particularly in mind, the private good could be at the expense of the common good: what is more, you are sent ad domesticos fidei. Organize yourselves on that basis. It wouldn’t take much to unleash a persecution whose consequences would be incalculable.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 15 January 1835, EO VIII n 501

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I respond to Eugene’s advice in the spirit of our times – thinking that we are here to share our experience of God, and of God’s immense love for us; to be witnesses to that love.

    I am reminded of how Eugene “looked for happiness outside of God”. We, I must be careful not to lessen God to my own fears, needs or wants. God is so much greater than that and we hurt others and ourselves if we try to limit God. I am not here to bring God down to my level, but rather to raise myself up to God, and in so doing help others to do the same.

    It would be so easy to think and live my life out of the idea of ‘my way is the only way’ and so all else is wrong and ‘less than’. Perhaps that is the secret of evangelization. We so not look only at the crucifixion and death of Jesus, but also at the resurrection. They are tied to each other.

    We will realise it is not with intolerance and persecution that we evangelize; rather it is only with tolerance and respect. It is through and with the beautiful Rule of Life that has been and is shared with all of us that we will join Eugene in saying: “We must lead men to act like human beings, first of all, and then like Christians, and, finally, we must help them to become saints.”

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