It is said that the “habit does not make the monk” – but what Eugene is getting at in this article of the Rule is that our exterior appearance can be an indication of an inner attitude.

The missionary will never be allowed to curl his hair, or to wear buckles on his shoes, or rings on his fingers. Everything on and about him ought to be of the greatest simplicity.

1818 Rule, Part Two, Chapter One. Regarding other principal observances

Years ago I remember the old-timer Oblates always expressing their amusement about the prohibition of having buckles on their shoes [it refers to the ornate silver buckles worn by the 19th century clergy who were affluent], and so it is with a smile that I put this in today. Fashions have changed in two hundred years, but the heart of this rule is still important.

What I hear Eugene saying is: do not imitate some of the ostentatious priests of his time, who were more concerned about their looks and keeping up with the fashions than with their inner state and the quality of their life and message. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33

Today’s Oblate Rule states the same principle:

We are to avoid all luxury, all appearance of luxury, all immoderate gain and accumulation of possessions. Subject to the common law of labour, and each in his own way contributing to the support of the community and its apostolate, we gladly accept the fact of not having at our disposal the comforts we might like.

CC&RR, Constitution 21


“As I grew older, I realized that it was much better to insist on the genuine forms of nature, for simplicity is the greatest adornment of art.”    Albrecht Durer

This entry was posted in RULE and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    Yes, it is the internal that is then seen by others through our externals. And Yes, it is easy to see where Eugene was coming from. In today’s “Communication” the article is about Lorenzo Rosebaugh, OMI, who three years about was assassinated / martyred by those wanting to silence him. Larry lived a life of simplicity and went beyond most. I remember stories when he was in living at the Novitiate and people in town would give him a coffee and thought him to be a street person. What came through was his simple presence with people and nature. Now we are not all call to that expression of poverty, but people do look at us and call us to live with simplicity/to be counter cultural in this economy of greed and “Bling”.
    One thing I would ask, “do we look/dress like the ‘perfect priest’ from the catalog? I think cuff links and the stiff shirts and perfect black suits would be on Eugene’s list today!

  2. John Mouck says:

    simple street clothes, the person’s demeanor, and the VISIBLE Oblate cross is what draws people and says to them, “This person, close to God, is just like me.”

  3. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I have to laugh at myself. Because I very quickly could read this and then go down the list of Oblates and lay people I know and start to judge. I could do it with myself. By why bother?

    I think I really want to say that it’s important that we do not let ourselves become distracted by fine clothes and belongings – excesses. It’s important that we don’t dress ourselves up for the wrong reasons and have the biggest and the best just because it is expected – that becomes a real trap because we need to then spend all of our time and energies with the upkeep of it all. I think I really want to say that it’s not necessary to “guild the lily” – it is so amazing how the true beauty of every living thing comes through without even trying.

    Sometimes when I read what is in the Consititution and Rules and marvel at the wisdom of Eugene and those who have followed him. I know that I have had to learn personally what was good and what was not so great for me in my life. It meant “going against the grain” sometimes. It seems that once we get used to focusing on whats necessary without judging we see the true truth and beauty in everything, whether its people, nature or even works of art. So certainly simplicity works best. And for commuity living I believe it is a must.

    As for the Cross – visible or not – I believe that people see and respond to the goodness that is within – it is more than a visible symbol that they respond to – perhaps it is what that symbol represents.

Leave a Reply to Jack Lau, OMI Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *