Zeal for the salvation of souls was a missionary quality which the Oblates had. Yet this same zeal could lead some of then to exaggerated efforts. In his journal Eugene expressed his concern to one of them:
Letter to Father Mille. I reprove him for having undertaken the two missions of Prébois and St. Nicholas, exhausted as he is from preceding missions. I insist on the necessity of his disciplining himself.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 7 April 1837, EO XVIII
To Father Mille, he wrote strongly:
I cannot help reproaching you for wanting to give at any cost this mission at Prébois which I had asked you to give up because of the fatigue of the previous missions where I knew that you had spat blood, This amounts to tempting God and killing oneself without any merit; for the Lord does not reward good that is done outside of obedience, less still the good we attempt to do against the norms of obedience. I include among these latter the reasonable care of one’s health.
What is the use of wearing oneself out in this manner? This is always bad; but in our situation, I consider it a crime. So be prudent, for God’s sake! and for once learn to sacrifice your ideas in favour of a father’s disapproval.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 6 April 1837, EO IX n 611
Words that still apply today and that not all of us heed!