Eugene’s reply to Honorat underlined the values behind their missions and what it meant to see people through the eyes of the Saviour. It was to the lowly that they were sent:
I worry little about the infinitely small number of bourgeois people who have not yet shown any sign of good will… In any case, their souls are not worth more or less than those of the least peasants, if we consider them in terms of the price the Lord has paid for them; under other aspects, they may be far less valuable.
Whatever the price to be paid, he continued:
It is foolish to be more concerned about these gentlemen than about the other good people of the area. It is bad, perhaps even sinful to sacrifice the common good to their caprice or vanity. Hence you have succumbed to weakness in giving in to their requests for instructions in French. You know from experience that such a concession is not expedient. Do you think that in all the missions that I have given in Provence I did not anywhere come across this group of bourgeois people who asked me to preach in French? Everywhere and always I have refused, in conscience except twice for very serious reasons.
He pointed out that his concern for the salvation of souls did not exclude the bourgeoisie: “The majority of them, if not all, will surrender like the others.” They knew enough Provençal to understand. But he did make exceptions when the salvation of souls, and not a snobbish caprice, was at stake:
Only at Brignoles and, immediately afterwards, at Lorgues, did I give one instruction per day in French. I did so because Brignoles is one of the main towns of Var where there are many educated people who do not know Provençal and so it was my duty to provide this food for their understanding. Moreover, I had decided on it only because the rest of the population would not suffer any harm thereof. The mission was as usual for everyone and I gave an extra conference on dogma for the magistrates and the numerous bourgeois people. And this supplementary instruction took place precisely at a moment when the people were busy with their work.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 28 February 1837, EO 9, n. 606