Father Joseph Rossi had been authorized to live outside of the Oblate community for a while in order to be of assistance to his parents. He was meant to maintain contact with his superior and his religious community during this time, but had seemingly not been faithful to this. Three years earlier, Eugene indicated that the young Oblate had not given much example of virtue:
Rossi will never be presentable especially as a witness to exterior regularity, as all his virtues are interior ones.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 18 June 1832, EO VIII n 425
Eugene always regarded the vows made by the Oblates as sacred and that by not living up to these commitments, one’s salvation was in danger. He thus warned Rossi:
My dear Father Rossi, it gave me great pleasure to get your letter. To be frank, I was experiencing some anxiety at your continued failure to give any sign of life once you moved outside community. The verbal authorization given during my absence seems to me to have been a giving way to persistence and to lack a sound basis. I don’t see any trace of the relationships that ought always to subsist in cases like this between superiors and men who are canonically authorized to live on a temporary basis at a distance from here.
Your soul is compromised by such conduct and its state is a source of grief to me. God is not mocked [Gal. 6,7: Deus non irridetu]
One doesn’t play with obligations that you have contracted with freedom. What is at stake is nothing less than your salvation.
It is my earnest wish to put to rights the defective aspects of your case. For this, good faith is needed on your part, and straightforwardness, in a word that you speak in good conscience and in the face of eternity; on my part you will find every understanding consistent with duty.
Letter to Father Joseph Rossi, 12 February 1835, EO VIII n 505