The missionary, as the instrument of Jesus Christ the Saviour, must pray but he must also study. From the very first rule of life drawn up in January 1816, the principle was established that one part of the life of the missionary was meant to be spent in active ministry while the other part was to be spent in study and prayer in his community. It was a value that Eugene reminded his missionaries about regularly:
Do not let yourselves be overwhelmed by the work which will soon surpass your strength. One must never want to do more than God permits. Plan all things wisely. Above all, always reserve time for study and for your personal sanctification in the interior of your house. That is indispensable.
Letter to Jean-Baptiste Honorat, 26 March 1842, in O.W. I, n. 10.
Nourish yourself with good reading to perfect your taste and solidify your judgment. Don’t have an eye for what shines but for what is solid, for what is understood by everyone in your audience, for what is instructive and makes conversions lasting.
Letter to Marc L’Hermite, 17 August 1852, in EO XI, n. 1112.