PARISH MISSIONS: WE CAN ONLY CONVERT IF WE ARE CONVERTED OURSELVES WITH WHAT WE TEACH

Listening to Eugene’s missionary heart speaking, makes me recall Pope Paul VI’s words

 “Contemporary man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, or if he listens to teachers, it is because they are witnesses”

 Discourse to members of the “Council for the Laity” 1974

The mission preachers had to be imitators of the Saviour through and through – achieved through prayer and study and practical actions. Hence his accent on more being achieved by example than by words:

All I desire is that they preach in a profitable manner, putting aside all self-love. One will not produce much fruit otherwise. I hope that our Fathers will have told themselves also to act with much prudence, when having to do with men so badly disposed.
Recommend that they conduct themselves like saints, like real apostles, joining to their preaching an exterior modesty, a great charity for sinners. Let people be able to perceive from their manner that they are not ordinary preachers, that they are truly animated by a zeal which is proper to their holy vocation.
Let them not forget themselves if they wish to be truly useful to others. Let them therefore pray much. The good God will then come to their help and all will go well.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 30 March 1826, O.W. VII n. 233

In the Rule, Eugene insisted that

we must convince ourselves that it is indispensable that we should practice all the virtues, and not be unacquainted with any of them.

Only in this way would the missionary provide solidity of doctrine. The most convincing way of converting people was to

make it evident that we are penetrated with what we teach and that we have begun to practice it before attempting to instruct others.

1818 Rule Part 1, Chapter 3, §1

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One Response to PARISH MISSIONS: WE CAN ONLY CONVERT IF WE ARE CONVERTED OURSELVES WITH WHAT WE TEACH

  1. As I read this reflection on the importance of being enlightened before being light for others I brought back to the Guru / Disciple relationship. And yes Jesus is the “Sat Guru” and we are his Disciples at his feet. In the Upanishad is speaks what Eugene was speaking to us.
    “Many do not hear about the Self. Many others, though they hear of it, do not understand it. Wonderful is he who speaks of it. Wonderful is he who learns it. Blessed is he who, taught by a good teacher, is able to realize it.”
    The Truth of the Self can not be fully understood when taught by an inferior person, for there are different opinions regarding it. Subtler than the subtlest is the Self, beyond all logic. When taught by a teacher who has realized himself as one with God/Brahman, a person attains the goal and becomes truly liberated and free.(Katha Upanisad)

    May through an integrated life may we be light for others as we remain at the feet of our Sat Guru Jesus who is our Brother, our Lord and Guide.

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