The nature of the commitment that Eugene and the Missionaries were about to take on was changed by their vows and oblation. It was no longer a temporary membership that could be ended when they tired of it – they would now be committed to this ideal and way of life for the rest of their days.
In this light Eugene realized even more forcefully that on his role of leadership depended not only the welfare of the group, but the salvation of those to whom they ministered.
It is not without fear that I consider the enormous obligations the Lord imposed on me when he assigned me so extensive and important a ministry.
To think of it! on my fidelity in responding to God’s grace, – for this help is always in proportion to needs, – depends perhaps the salvation of a multitude of souls.
If I am fervent the community at whose head I am placed will grow in fervour and whole populations will feel the influence of this growth in zeal and love.
If on the contrary I am lazy, the community will thereby suffer a great loss, and the people will be the victims, and since it was my duty to bring down on both the former and the latter an infinity of graces of perfection or conversions on the day of judgment they will all rise up against me to ask for an account of the treasure I deprived them of by my fault.
The thought frightens him:
I confess that this thought is so terrifying that I would have been tempted to succumb to discouragement and renounce working for others’ salvation.
Yet, all the experiences that he has lived through since the foundation of the Missionaries, three years before, convince him that he is doing what God wants.
But I became convinced that this was not the surest approach, since as the Lord has shown me his will both through the voice of superiors and by the successful results with which, notwithstanding so many obstacles and oppositions, he crowned all the works be assigned me, I would not escape the condemnation I fear by fleeing the field and returning to the peace and quiet I yearn for.
Day’s Retreat, during th community retreat, 30 October 1818,
EO XV n. 148