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

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What a joy to be back here and going deeper with the words of Eugene.

    He was always considering what would be best for his ever growing society and for each member (communal and personal) and then as they looked out at the mission for the poor. All a part of the charism, the gift the Holy Spirit had given to him – not a one-time event but rather a never-ending flow back and forth.

    When I began with AA I was told that I had to care for my sobriety – it did not just ‘happen’ and it needed to be constantly nourished. If not then I could lose everything (sobriety – so that I could learn to live and experience life) – I might drink again, not at first but without a healthy strong foundation within me I might lose what I was gaining.

    I use the image of a seed sown on sparse soil. It will need to be watered and fed, protected from the elements and from other life looking to feed on it. If it is cared for it will burst forth from the ground. It may need some help and guidance along the way in the form of a small fence around it, a rod to help support it; it will need sun and rain, and bees to pollinate it. With all of that though it will flourish and its beauty and fragrance will fill the air. It will help the rest of the garden to thrive and will take its place among and with others. It will bring joy to all who see it.

    This is what I believe Eugene was trying to tell Fr. Rossi; what it would take for him to thrive, and for the congregation to thrive – and not just them but also for those he was ministering to and working with. That is the salvation he was speaking about.

    This morning Eugene smiling at me and I smiling right back at him.

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