“We will find our support in friendship and in fraternal life, in apostolic commitment to all,” is the call today to each Oblate in our Rule of Life (Constitution 18). Its origin is clearly visible from the first moments of community life for Eugene. Writing to Henri Tempier from their first mission in Grans, Eugene wants to make him a part of the apostolic experience they are living. Interspersed with the news of the mission, we find expressions of friendship and warm brotherhood.
I miss you ten times daily…
The Missionaries were living the excitement of their first mission together, and this first experience would be remembered and be a talking point for the rest of their lives, yet Henri Tempier was unable to be with them, so Eugene warmly acknowledges this:
I shall regret all my life that you have not been here with us, but God will take into account your sacrifice…
I embrace you with my heart, cherished brother that you are. Adieu, adieu.
The support in friendship and fraternal life that Eugene lived with Henri Tempier and the community overflowed to the members of the youth congregation in Aix. They were not considered merely as the “beneficiaries” of the apostolic commitment of the Missionaries, but they were regarded as “our friends”
A thousand regards for all friends, great and small. I think of them every day in the holy sacrifice. Let them not forget us.
Letter to Henri Tempier from Grans, 24 February 1816, O.W. VI n. 10
This fraternal warmth is clear from one of the very first letters that Henri Tempier wrote to Eugene, just a few days before leaving Arles to come and live definitively in Aix.
Holy friend and true brother, I do not know how to thank you for all that you have done for my salvation. You are truly the friend who is the most dear to my heart. You were in my affections before, I esteemed you very highly and I never failed to talk about you whenever I was with my friends; but ever since you cast your eyes on me in order to associate me with your apostolic works and to make me part of the fruits of holiness that await us in our dear Congregation, 1 cannot but think of you with the deepest sentiments of gratitude and thank God continually for having inspired in you this design of mercy for me.
Letter of Henri Tempier to Eugene de Mazenod, 20 December 1815, Collection Oblate Writings II,2 , Selected Letters n. 11