Having exhorted Bourellier to “fully convince yourself that you are quite happy to belong entirely to Jesus Christ,” Eugene continues to remind him that belonging to Jesus Christ involves obedience. Firstly to the Word of God as it is expressed thru the Rule of the Missionaries.

Now it is Jesus Christ, our divine Saviour, who is your Master and he manifests his will to you through the Rule that you have embraced with love and through the voice of the superior who stand in his place.

Secondly it is thru the guidance of the person of the superior of the community, who is the guardian of the spirit and ministry of the Missionaries.

Open the lives of the saints, you will see how they understood this truth and especially how they put it into practice. It is them you ought to take as your models; with such examples one cannot go astray. 
Oh holy obedience! Sure road which leads to heaven, may I never deviate from the way you mark out for me, may I ever be docile to the least of your counsels! Yes, my dear brother, outside this path there is no salvation for us. But, thanks be to the goodness of God, you have already understood this and your letter allays the concern that was rightly aroused in me.

Letter to Hilarion Bourrelier, 19 September 1821, EO VI n 72

 Jesus is the source and model of authority in the Church. Just as he washed his disciples’ feet, so too those in charge among us are called to serve and not to be served. Their service coordinates and leads our efforts to evangelize the poor. Among us, they foster a way of life based on faith and on a deeply shared love of Christ.

CC&RR Constitution 71


“Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.”      Douglas Bader (British World War II pilot)

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Whats in a word? Obviously a heck of a lot. Twice now I have pushed my chair back to walk away from this writing today. The title “it is Jesus Christ who makes his will known” – so inviting and I’m thinking yes – a great way to start the day. I leap in to read more – and then on the 3rd line in the word ‘obedience’. My reaction – oh hell (I hope that’s not a curse). No feelings of comfort there, rather a niggle of fear that I find myself not wanting to acknowledge. I have gone back and reread – hoping that something else will pop up and engage me. God works as God works and uses who he will to do that work. Can you hear the “great”?

    This morning I can read Eugene’s words and let them sit there – they are good and I can handle them. Even the Constitution – great. I am some how able to, on the face of them be okay – there’s some “feel good” in there with them.

    Frank’s second commentary, words of guidance(?) start to hit some ‘nails on the head’. Part of me wants to stand there, stamp my foot, say ‘no way’, turn around and walk away. What in the name of all this is holy am I so afraid of? Because that’s what I feel rising up to choke me. What do I need to let go of that is so precious? I can feel those old wounds trying to rise up. What do I need to let go of? Perhaps I am thinking that “my” knowledge and received wisdom is greater than anothers? Why am I so afraid to trust that God just might be trying to talk to me, give me something through another, one which would not have been my first choice.

    Scripture that comes to mind is from Mark’s Gospel about the very rich man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life and upon hearing the response turned away sad for it was very great. To turn away simply is not an option for me. So I sit in tears, because it just plain hurts to think of letting go and all I seem to be capable of is asking God to take it. I don’t believe God is asking me to give away all of my belongings to follow him, but feel here today that I am being asked to let go of something just as difficult, at least for me – for I am very independant in some ways, and to trust. Who will I trust – myself?

  2. David Morgan says:

    Radical obedience to Jesus Christ … OK … and thus to the Superior who stands in his place … hmm … through the Rule …

    Douglas Bader’s quote at the end is the redeeming feature of today’s message for me. I had to read it several times to see what Frank was getting at.

    I hope I have this right. Blind obedience is not the answer. We are intelligent beings capable of deciding how to live our lives. Using the Saints as examples of how to live and using the “Rule” (e.g. The Catechism of the Catholic Church) as guidance, I can determine my appropriate path in life with wisdom. Let go, let God guide me.

    I don’t know if Douglas Bader was a Christian or not. He broke all the rules about how a disability was supposes to hold you back and was Knighted for services to disabled people.

    I am perplexed at the juxtaposition of Eugene’s obedience message and Sir Douglas’s quote.

    • franksantucci says:

      In a daily reflection, it is difficult to go into much depth on basic concepts. With this blog I am trying to let people to become familiar with Eugene’s writings. WE NEED TO CONSTANTLY REMEMBER THAT HE WROTE 200 YEARS AGO. That means 150 years before the many developments that led to Vatican 2 fifty years ago. The world was different, the Church’s expressions were different, but the same Gospel spirit ran thru Eugene’s writings as does today in the life of the family he founded. That is why I do the daily reflection: to help us to catch glimpses of the Spirit of God that animated Eugene and that continues to animate us today.

      When Eugene speaks of obedience, Rule, superiors he is within the mainstream of 17 centuries of Church History which started with the early monasticism of the desert and has developed thru major religious influences like Saints Benedict, Bernard, Cassian etc. and then the religious apostolic life of some of the great names in our tradition: Francis, Dominic, Angela Merici, Ignatius of Loyola, Mary Ward etc. right thru the filter and new expressions of the same reality since Vatican2.

      Eugene was profoundly steeped in these traditions (remember that he lived in community with a Trappist monk from 1812 to the end of 1815). It is from there that he constantly insists on the Rule, obedience and the role of the superior as expressions of God’s will – particularly in the relativism of the post-revolution society of France.

      If you wish to go deeper into the topic, look at the article “Constitutions and Rules” in the Dictionary of Oblate Values ( ) and some of the related articles in the same Dictionary.

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