Eugene was a gifted orator who could not stay with a prepared text, but because he knew exactly which reaction he wanted to achieve from his listeners, he was able to move and improvise – but always coming from his own experience of trying to imitate Christ the Saviour in his life. His biographer, Jean Leflon, explains:
Being a born orator, Father de Mazenod could not tie himself down to preaching a sermon word for word since it would have hampered his delivery and cramped his style. This does not mean that his preaching involved no preparation; much to the contrary. His outlines which have come down to us prove that he accumulated documents on each subject, arranged his material, and even wrote out certain passages with meticulous care. But, once he entered the pulpit, he discarded his pages so that he might establish a more direct contact with his listeners and, according to their dispositions and reactions, he changed his outline, omitted parts of it, made additions to it, and, so to speak, rebuilt the foundation as well as the structure with endless variety. “He was never more at the peak of his genius than when he had to triumph over a sudden unforeseen difficulty. The more sudden his improvisations were, the more apt they were; the more vigorous the attack, the more effective it was,” wrote a qualified critic, Tavernier, who had once been President of the Bar of Aix.
J. Leflon, Eugene de Mazenod, Bishop of Marseilles, Founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, 1782 – 1861, Volume II, chapter 4