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