The missionaries were preaching in Digne. It was in an area known for its Jansenist rigidity and for being critical of the Oblates whose preaching focused more on God’s mercy for sinners than on legalism and hellfire. Conscious that their ministry was being done in delicate circumstances, Eugene encourages them with words of advice.

At the seminary of Digne, be considerate to the superior ….

The moral theology being taught at the seminary was not that preached by the Oblates, and so Eugene reminds them to be courteous to the seminary rector at all times, despite their differences. Then he stresses that it is by the quality of their lives that they achieved good results. When their critics became aware that the Oblates were not troublemakers who wanted to defy them, but men sincerely striving for sanctity, much would be achieved through their ministry:

Above all be saintly for one achieves more by actions than by words.

Finally, they needed to keep a watchful eye on one another’s speech and behavior to guard against any misinterpretations.

Do not refrain, I conjure you, from charitable fraternal correction.

Letter to Fathers Mie, Jeancard and Guibert, 21 November 1826, EO VII n. 259

We will see in the future how the fundamental difference in approach to sinners between the Oblates and the diocesan authorities in this area was to become an increasing source of tension, leading to the eventual expulsion of the Oblates from Notre Dame du Laus a decade later.


“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.”   Ben Okri

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. It feels a little like over the past week or so we have been given a small series of missives that will help us to stay focused and on track in our lives. So basic and yet so profound. Today I am being reminded, led, to look at my attitude here and now towards others and myself. Do I put myself above others, thinking that I have found the one true way to be and do? How in charity do I correct my brothers and sisters – is it by telling them they are wrong and walking away or is it perhaps by showing them another way and then walking in that other way but with them? Do I hang on to my own situation and things demanding that it be the ‘other’ who lets go? I might have an answer or some answers, but I sure do not have all of the answers. How do I give witness to this most awesome love and life that God has shared with me – is it as unconditional and limitless as I have received?

    Yesterday was a day of incredible joy – not for any particular reason, simply one of being filled with joy and hopefully being able to share that. Today is much quieter, a day of gratitude for all that I have been given, a day to reflect and ponder as I cook a special meal of thanksgiving, then out of that I will do the things I need to do. One thing flowing from the other. Quiet and ordinary. “Then he [Eugene] stresses that it is by the quality of their lives that they achieved good results.” Being in order to do. Indeed I have much to be grateful for.

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