Continuing his letter to the Vicar General of Nancy about the style and method of Oblate preaching, Eugene wrote:

I will modestly reply by quoting a passage of our Rules which sets down the method that our Missionaries are to follow …

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 strive to be admired because of the sublimity of their eloquence and by the brilliance of their carefully prepared diction; we must follow a totally different route. We must seek only to instruct the faithful, to be attentive to the needs of the greater part of the audience, and we must not be content to break the bread of the Word of God for them, but also to chew it for them.

We should see to it that, when our sermons are over, they, instead of presuming to bestow foolish admiration on what they have not understood, will rather return to their homes instructed and well disposed, instructed, and able to repeat in their families what they have learned from our lips. (1818 Rule)

I wanted to transcribe this passage for you to commit you to always keep our Missionaries in the humility of their vocation and not expose them to do otherwise than what is recommended to them by their Rules.

Letter to M. Marguet, Vicar General of Nancy, 21 October 1847, EO XIII n 117


“A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon, must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation.” (Pope Francis)

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    This morning I am struck by the echo of Constitution 8 and stop to read the words of Eugene’s 1818 Rule of Life as well as it’s flow into the Oblate Motto.

    Rather than being asked to preach in the manner of a histrionic actor on stage who tries to impress or display great knowledge and holiness, our sole aim is to share our experience of God in such a way that invites others to open their hearts and share that very gift of their lives with each of us, and especially the poor who live out their lives on the very edges of society. It matters not if they come from a different culture or way of living – our way of listening and speaking with humility and simplicity allows us to join them as pilgrims of hope in communion. There are none better than the other.

    “Evangelizare pauperibus misit me: Pauperes evangelizantur” (We are sent to evangelize the poor: the poor are evangelized). I can remember when I first began to understand this as not only preaching to “those poor over there” but to how I myself am evangelized by those who I share with. This then, can become foundational within us. No longer will it be “those others out there on the edges of life” but rather a way of being one with them for they also evangelize us.

    Out of curiosity I looked at some of the titles of past General Chapters and was struck by how these titles are born from the very Rules of Life for our Oblate/Mazenodian Family. We come together to laugh and cry, to struggle and surrender and to share our stories of being “pilgrims of hope in communion”.

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