Eugene’s constant insistence to his Oblates was:
Instruct, instruct, ignorance is the plague of our times.
Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 19 January 1839, EO IX n. 683
Studies of the missions in France during the period of the Restoration emphasize the religious ignorance of the French after a quarter century of atrocious persecutions, incessant wars, and constant upheavals. One part of the population had forgotten nearly everything about their faith, while another part had never learnt much about it. This was the crass ignorance Eugene referred to in the Preface:
The people are caught up in crass ignorance of all that pertains to their salvation. The consequence of their ignorance has been a weakening of the faith and a corruption of morals with all the license which that inevitably entails. Thus, it is supremely important, it is urgently imperative, that we lead the multitude of lost sheep back to the fold, that we teach these degenerate Christians who Jesus Christ is….
1826 Rule, Preface
For this reason the missionaries packed their missions fully with catechesis, familiar instructions, retreats for particular groups and took every possible opportunity to instruct.