As an outstanding preacher himself, Eugene had no patience with the flowery preachers who had style and played with words but had no solid content. His diary entries spare them no criticism, and in his Rule he wanted to ensure that his Missionaries never fell into this trap.

It should be understood that it is in direct opposition to the spirit of our Rule to aim at elegance of style in preaching, rather than solidity of doctrine.
Too many preachers want to be admired for the magnificence of their eloquence and the brilliance of their studied language; we must follow another way;

1818 Rule Part 1, Chapter 3, §1 Preaching

 “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1


“Don’t you know, priests, why our sermons do not touch the people’s heart? Because we do not preach to the eyes, only to the ears.” Antonio Vieira

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I love what Eugene says in the Rules – it keeps them real – walking the walk. Personally I do not respond well to “perfection” in another – it turns me off and I walk away. However to see with the eyes of my heart, the brokenness and frailty of another person, along side their incredible beauty and life – that is seeing God’s immense love alive in this world. That is what gives “immense hope” and invites me to watch and listen more, to learn and to try to become like that person(s). Perfect I can’t do.

    From all accounts Eugene was certainly a great speaker, but I often struggle with his words, his love of what I want to call the dramatic (and who knows , maybe thats just the way it was 200 years ago). But the ideas behind those words and how he lived them out, his fierce love of God and how he shared all the love that God filled him with – that I cannot ignore. His freedom in the love of God to be real and open and live what he preached (on all levels). Something to ask for and allow myself to live out.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Although Eugene’s words have very often touched me (as they are meant to), it is also his life, how he lived as well as his words, it is how he lived out his “all for God” that inspire and show me a way to live. I think it is in part because he did not simply “tell us what to do”, he gave witness to, he shared who God was to him. For me it is always a comfort to know that I am not the only one who struggles, doubts and questions. It is likewise a joy to know that others share this great and wondrous gift of love and life in and with God. It is at least for me, as if I must share and be ‘part of’ in order to be really alive. Not alone.

    This morning I am also thinking of the how the Oblates ‘listen(ed)’, as well as preach. They are not so busy ‘making noise’ that they can’t hear what others have to say. They would (and still do) preach, teach and then take time to listen in confession, reconciliation which was and still is perhaps the greater gift. For people, for humans, to have a safe place to share their most intimate struggles and pain, their doubts and wonderings – it is perhaps more needed today than ever before. I think of the constant noise, the clanging and noise of cymbals and gongs that can be such a huge part of what technology offers us through social media. We are constantly bombarded with superficial and often meaningless noise, words and messages that never seem to touch us at any depth. They can become empty distractions that leave us no time for going deeper.

    All the technology that we have now, not available in the time of Eugene and yet his message still holds true today. This place here, surely a place of solid content, of sharing and of listening, a place where it is safe and where reflection is invited and made available.

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