1. Scripture reading according to Father de Mazenod
  2. Selected texts
  3. Witness of faith
  4. The Word of God received by the Oblates
  5. Conclusion

A person’s degree of familiarity with the Bible is an indication of his spiritual identity. It is in this perspective that we are going to study Eugene de Mazenod’s fidelity to daily reading of the Bible, the impact of some important texts on his spiritual life and his apostolate, his faith in the power of the Word of God and the fidelity of Oblates to this example set by their Founder.

Scripture reading according to Father de Mazenod

The Word of God was the ordinary sustenance for his life. “Handed on to his Apostles by Jesus, this word has lost none of its power in the course of the ages. We have experienced the fact that because it issued from the mouth of him who is himself eternal life, it is always spirit and life.” [1]


This conviction was rooted in Eugene de Mazenod’s heart thanks to the religious formation he received in Venice from Don Bartolo Zinelli. We do not know in detail what Don Bartolo had him study. He simply says in his Diary, “This was the priest […] who taught me about religion and inspired in me the sentiments of piety which were the salvation of my youth […]”. [2] Judging by the reactions of the young Eugene, this teaching must have included an introduction to the Bible in order to find the nourishment he needed for his life. A few years later when he returned to Aix as a lay person, he sought answers to the concrete problems of human existence in the Sacred Scripture. We have an outstanding example of this in a letter he wrote to a young French army officer, Emmanuel Gaultier de Claubry, with whom he became friends during a trip to Paris in September 1805. Eugene offered his friend a series of ural passages as an encouragement in the difficulties of witnessing to his faith. This was accompanied by the following words of commentary: “[…] I have gathered together below some words of consolation that I have been careful to draw from the pure wellspring, in the Book of Life, that admirable code where all needs are foreseen, and remedies are provided. So it is by no means Eugene, it is Jesus Christ, it is Peter, Paul, John, etc., who send you this wholesome food which when received with that spirit of faith of which you are capable will certainly not be without effect.” [3] After having quoted from this letter, Father Achilles Rey added: “We know of no listing so complete and gripping in terms of texts proper to stirring up a Christian’s courage to make him invincible”. [4] Unfortunately, Father Rey does not quote any of the texts used by Eugene de Mazenod. This letter shows that already at this time, at the end of 1805, the Bible was for him the word of life. This letter also reveals a genuine familiarity with Sacred Scripture.


Father Joseph Morabito made a careful study of the teaching that went on at the Seminary of St. Sulpice. [5] The Oblate General Archives have Eugene’s theology notebooks. Among them, there are two dedicated to Sacred Scripture: 1. “Notes on the life of Jesus until his Passion”; 2. “The four first chapters of Genesis and various notes”. When one speaks of the formation given in Scripture in the seminaries of the 1800’s one must make a distinction between teaching about the Bible and a meditative reading of the Bible. Despite the intellectual endowments of the professors, Jean Leflon stresses the insufficiency of this teaching because they were too preoccupied with apologetics. [6] One point to which historians do not give enough attention, and which is of prime importance, is that the priests and seminarians of that time devoted at least a half hour to Scripture reading every day – something which shaped their thinking. They were faithful to the Lectio Divina. Even if the seminarians wasted their time calculating the measurements of Noah’s Ark to determine its capacity to contain every species of animal during the flood, they treated the Bible in a much more living manner by using it as nourishment for their daily reflections. This would be the reaction of Eugene de Mazenod and his companions throughout their lives.


a. Learning to act like Jesus Christ

In the program he drew up for himself upon his return to Aix in October 1812, Eugene made the resolution that, after Prime and the Martyrology, he would “read Holy Scripture for half-an-hour”. [7] His manner of speaking and acting show that for him the principal part of Holy Scripture was the Gospel. To confirm this, one need only see with what frequency he refers to Jesus Christ as a model. Here are some examples. In the preparatory notes for his first Lenten sermons in 1813: “[…] The Gospel must be taught to all and it must be taught in such a way as to be understood. The poor, a precious portion of the Christian family, cannot be abandoned in their ignorance. Our Divine Savior attached such importance to this that he took on himself the responsibility of instructing them and he cited as proof of the divinity of his mission the fact that the poor were being evangelized, pauperes evangelizantur.” [8] From the outset, it was in order to act in the same way as Christ did that he concerned himself with the poor. The same attitude to Jesus is manifested when He is considered as the light of life: “How [..] did our Lord Jesus Christ proceed?” Voiced in the Preface, this is a question to which Father de Mazenod refers constantly in all circumstances of life. His concern is to be familiar with Christ’s way of acting and thinking, in order to act as He would act. It is to acquire this attitude that the ordinary content of his prayer would be “the life and the virtues of Our Lord Jesus Christ which the members of the Society should intensely reproduce in themselves”. [9] As a result, the reading of Holy Scripture consists above all in reading the Gospels, which will teach the Oblate how to become like Christ and to live with Him. While preparing himself for episcopal ordination, he would be able to say: “This book of the Gospels is confided to me so that in conformity with my vocation or rather with the mission given me, I go out and preach the good news of salvation to the people entrusted to me”. [10]

Father de Mazenod was so intent to be faithful to the resolution he had made in 1812 to read the Holy Scriptures every day, that he imposed a small penance on himself every time he failed to keep his resolution. In his retreat notes of December 1813, we find: “I will impose a penance on myself for each inexcusable failure to keep the articles of my rule […] if it is the reading of Holy Scripture, two hour’s hair shirt the next day”. [11] He took advantage of his annual retreats to renew the same resolution in 1817, 1818 and 1824. [12] On the occasion of his taking possession of the See of Marseilles in May of 1837, he could thank the Lord because, remaining faithful to this resolution, he had been enlightened through the Bible: “I give you thanks, O Lord, for having made shine forth this light from the sacred deposit of your Holy Scriptures. As you show me the way I should follow, and give me the desire to follow it, you will also give me the powerful help of your grace […].” [13] Furthermore it was his intention to pursue this same policy in order to be a pastor according to the heart of Christ, “to nourish the love of God and all the virtues that flow from it by the daily offering of the holy Sacrifice, by oraison, by prayer, by reading Holy Scripture, the holy Fathers, by good ascetic works, by the lives of the saints.” [14] The program that he sets for himself as Bishop of Marseilles provides for one hour of daily Scripture reading. [15] A brief reflection reveals that he also took advantage of his spare moments to read Scripture: “[…] I will wait for someone to bring me up my coffee while occupying myself with the reading of Holy Scripture”. [16] We note that in his resolutions the Founder usually says “reading” of Sacred Scripture and not “study”, for it was his intention to remain faithful to the tradition of the Lectio Divina which is a slow reading during which the heart allows itself to be molded by the Word of God.

b. Understanding the spirit of the text.

“It is more important […] to reflect on a passage to ascertain the author’s intention […] so as not to fall into the mistake St. Paul warns us about of following more the letter that kills than the spirit that gives life.” [17] To grasp the spirit of a text because it is a question of a message aimed not only at the intelligence, but at the whole person. The individual responds to this message through his behavior. For Father de Mazenod, the Gospel spirit was first of all the simplicity of the genuine missionary who makes himself available to the most humble in the flock, as he said in one of his sermons at the Madeleine: “[…] in imitation of the Apostle we have not come to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the elevated discourses of a human eloquence and wisdom […] but the simple Word of God stripped of every ornament, placed so far as in us lay within the grasp of the simplest”. [18] Father de Mazenod had seen too many of those brilliant preachers, very knowledgeable about the Scriptures, but preaching so as to draw attention to themselves. “Let our words be more than what I have often noticed about the words of those who proclaim the same truths, namely sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.” [19]

c. Expressing the true meaning of Scripture

To achieve this would be a fruit of understanding the spirit of the text. We have a significant example of this in the paragraph devoted to confession in the Rule of 1818. This is a text original to the Founder, even if it begins by speaking about Saint Ignatius and Saint Philip Neri. “We have no idea where the Founder found all this material.” [20] “Our Founder perhaps drew his inspiration from some texts of the Rule of Saint Ignatius to write the paragraph on confession.” [21] But the spiritual thoughts come from the Founder himself. It is interesting to note that he calls the ministry of confession the talent Christ bestowed on his disciples. This way of interpreting the parable fully respects its teaching (see Matthew 25:14-30). The Lord entrusts “his fortune” to his servants. It is salvation in its entirety that is entrusted to his servants so that they can render it fruitful. And this treasure contains the ministry of reconciliation. In this way, Father de Mazenod brought out the true meaning of the parable much more effectively than a certain number of French-speaking preachers who saw in these talents only the personal gifts of the disciples. On the contrary, in it, he shows us all the riches of the grace that the Lord asks us to make fruitful. During his retreat of 1814, this is how he understood this same parable by applying it to the “extraordinary graces” of the priestly life: “[…] that was the talent that must not be buried […]”. [22]


a. In the first Rule, 1818 text

To write the texts concerning the vows, the Founder drew heavily on the Rule of Saint Alphonsus. After the articles treating of perseverance, however, there appears an article on recollection and silence. Father Georges Cosentino found no text similar to this in the other religious Rules used by Father de Mazenod. In this text, our Founder repeats the call to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles, our first Fathers. “In imitation of these great models, one part of their lives will be spent in prayer, interior recollection and contemplation in the seclusion of the house of God which will be their common dwelling.” A little later he specifies: “When the missionaries will not be out preaching missions, they will joyfully return to the seclusion of their holy home where they will spend their time in renewing themselves in the spirit of their vocation, meditating on the law of the Lord, studying Sacred Scripture, the holy Fathers […]”. We find again the appeal of Father de Mazenod here: to imitate the Apostles in their most active zeal and in their deep attachment to the person of Jesus Christ, two attributes which cannot be separated since one calls for the other. Silence is necessary, silence to listen to Jesus Christ who speaks in the Bible. Silent listening is generous, since it flows from a deep love. That is what the Oblates are called upon to experience “in joy”, says the Founder. They are happy to be in intimate union with Christ, enjoying his word. Thus the mouth will speak from the abundance of the heart (see Matthew 12:34). Consequently, the reading of Scripture is not limited to study; it must be seen in the context of an encounter with Christ. It is thus a listening to his word received as a personal message.

b. In the text approved by the Holy See in 1826

In the same context of silence and intimacy with Christ, the directive has been kept: “Every member of the Institute is enjoined to study Sacred Scripture daily”. [23] I have no idea what clerical error in the Rule of 1926 restricted this study to priests and scholastics. Whatever the case may be, all editions of the Rule from 1826 to 1928 have always placed this text after the paragraph on oraison.

c. In the letters to Oblates

From the very beginning of their formation, young Oblates must develop an intimate familiarity with Bible reading. To Father Henry Tempier, master of novices at Notre-Dame du Laus, Father de Mazenod wrote: “Continue to have them learn by heart several verses of the New Testament every day […]”. [24] The Rule’s directive seemed important enough to Father John Baptist Berne, professor at the Major Seminary at Fréjus for him to ask the Superior General to dispense him from the obligation of reading the Bible every day. Bishop de Mazenod answers him with regard to spiritual reading and then Bible reading: “[…] I gladly give you my consent that you reduce to twenty minutes instead of half-an-hour the time you spend on it. The same goes for the Scripture reading, as the kind of studies you are engaged in oblige you to delve often in this very fruitful mine.” [25] This example clearly demonstrates what our Founder and the Oblates of that time understood as “Scripture reading.” Father Berne was teaching at the Major Seminary; in order to prepare his classes it was necessary that he study the Bible; that was not enough; he also needed to engage in a continuous reading of the Holy Book. In this way, the Oblates, imitating their Founder, wished to be faithful to the tradition of the Lectio Divina.

Selected texts

Some founders of Orders were struck in a providential way by a passage of Scripture that radically changed their way of life. We can give as an example the case of Saint Anthony, founder of the cenobitic life, who was overwhelmed by the Gospel text: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell all you own and give it to the poor”. There was no dramatic change due to a Gospel text in the life of Eugene de Mazenod, though there certainly were Scripture texts that profoundly marked his existence. [26] There is no doubt that the most basic impact was not that of one or two verses of Scripture which recurred in his writings, but rather the Passion narrative as a whole. It was in reliving the Passion of Christ as it appeared in the prayer of the Church that he was touched by Christ’s boundless love and that he wanted to make of his life a generous response to this love. The grace of Good Friday of 1807 is clearly the most obvious example of this. One can add to it reflections like these: “Like the Apostle to preach Jesus Christ, and him crucified […] not in loftiness of speech, but in the showing of the Spirit”. [27] “One must, if one wishes to live the life of Jesus Christ, following the advice of the Apostle, carry always about oneself the mortification of Jesus Christ […] ‘so that he may make up in his body the things that are lacking in the passion of Christ’ (Colossians 1:24). [28] “General resolution to be wholly God’s […] to seek only the cross of Jesus Christ and the penance due to my sins […]” [29]

During the Holy Week liturgies, we hear in the Lamentations of Jeremiah the groaning of an abandoned and persecuted Jerusalem; liturgical tradition has seen in this the cries of the Church weeping over the defection of her children. From his seminary days, Eugene de Mazenod felt the challenge issuing from this traditional reading of the Lamentations – as this conference for the ordination to the sub-diaconate gives witness: “[…] These deeds that rend our Mother have penetrated deep into our souls, and we cried out in accents of sorrow: Facta est quasi vidua Domina gentium […] No, no tender dear Mother, not all your children desert you in the days of your affliction; a group, small it is true, but precious for the feelings that move it, draws close around you and wipes away the tears that men’s ingratitude provokes in the bitterness of your sorrow […].” [30] In a rather more sober style in the Preface of the Rule, Father de Mazenod repeated his decision to respond to the call of a Church in desperate straits. That makes me think that the section of Scripture that stirred the Founder most profoundly was the Passion narrative. This narrative made evident to him the personal love of Christ for him, the value of every soul redeemed by the blood of Christ, the love of Jesus Christ for the people of the whole universe. For him, love for Christ was inseparable from love of the Church since she was “that glorious inheritance purchased by Christ the Savior at the cost of his own blood”. [31] “How is it possible to separate our love of Jesus Christ from the love we owe to his Church? These two kinds of love merge: to love the Church is to love Jesus Christ, and vice-versa.” [32] So when he meditates on the Passion of Christ, it is especially the love of Jesus Christ that he discovers and with which he permeates himself. [33]

Among the most significant texts quoted by our Founder, what especially captures my attention are the miracles of Pentecost and the beginning of the life of the Church as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles. The Oblates are apostles because of the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Your destiny is to be apostles, and so tend within your hearts the sacred fire that the Holy Spirit lights there […].” [34] Concerning the missionaries in Ceylon, he wrote to Cardinal Fransoni: “I am convinced that they have been gifted with a certain participation in the miracle of Pentecost. How could it otherwise be possible to explain that in such a short time, they have been able to know enough of those difficult languages to instruct and confess the natives of that country?” [35] It was by the power of the Spirit that the Oblates accomplished miracles as marvelous as those which occurred in the early days of the Church. That is what the Founder states in this letter to Father Henry Faraud: “I have just read, all at once and with lively interest […] the admirable account of the La Nativité Mission that you sent me […]. How can I express to you all the feelings that it awoke in my soul? […] One has to go back to the first preaching of Saint Peter to find anything similar. An apostle like him, sent to proclaim the Good News to those savage nations, the first man to speak to them of God, to bring them knowledge of Jesus the Savior […] One can only prostrate oneself before you, so privileged are you among your brothers in the Church of God by reason of the choice that he has made of you to work these miracles.” [36] Here again we see the impact of the Lectio Divina. The text of the Bible does not merely call up an event of history, it is a message for us today as well. Because his heart is so filled with admiration for the marvels accomplished by the Apostles, our Founder grasps the enormous value of the apostolate of the Oblates today. In the letters which tell of their apostolic excursions, it is the Lord himself who reveals to them his marvels just like he displayed them in the Acts of the Apostles. Such an act of faith interprets a calling, as he wrote to Father Mouchette to pass on to the scholastics: “They have to realize that their ministry is the continuation of the apostolic ministry, and that it is a question of going to the length of performing miracles. The news that reaches us from the foreign missions is proof of this.” [37]

Jesus’ apostolic plan of action (see Luke 4:18-19), even if it is not often quoted by Saint Eugene – at least explicitly – is of primary importance to grasp his missionary spirit. When he quotes this text or makes allusion to it, it is to express his happiness at being called like Christ was and his intention to act as He did. Like Christ, he allows himself to be led by the Spirit; he speaks of “a scrupulous fidelity to the least movements of the Holy Spirit”. [38] In the letter that he sent to Father Tempier a few days before his episcopal ordination, he spoke of Christ’s prayer for us and he added: “It is precisely on this point that the power of the Holy Spirit draws me to dwell and in it the fruit that I want and hope for from my retreat. In other words, in this last phase of my life I think I can say that I am firmly resolved, through the overflowing abundance of graces that I will receive to try, by assiduous application, to conform myself to God’s will that not a single fiber of my being will knowingly swerve from it.” [39] If, like Christ, he allows himself to be guided by the Spirit, his apostolate would no longer be his work, but that of God.

Led by the Spirit, with and in the manner of Christ, he dedicates himself generously to the evangelization of the poor. To illustrate this statement, one would have to go through the entire life of the Founder. We limit ourselves to quoting here a few notes from his 1831 retreat: “Will we ever have an adequate understanding of this sublime vocation! For that one would have to understand the excellence of our Institute’s end, beyond argument the most perfect one could propose to oneself in this world, since the end of our Institute is the self-same end that the Son of God had in mind when he came down on earth. The glory of his heavenly Father and the salvation of souls […] He was sent especially to evangelize the poor […] The means […] are unquestionably the most perfect since they are precisely those same means used by our divine Savior […] a happy blend of the active and contemplative life of which Jesus Christ and the Apostles have set us an example.” [40] We find here the essential element Saint Eugene focused on: to be like Christ and to be with him.

Always very affectionate toward the Oblates, the Founder often quoted the words of Saint Paul to the Philippians (1:3-9), especially verse 8: “You have a permanent place in my heart […] loving you as Christ Jesus loves you”. This text was obviously at the basis of his relationships with the Oblates. Since he quotes the complete text in his letter of obedience for the first missionary Oblates sent to Canada, we know the French text he was using. [41] We will go through this text showing its impact on Eugene de Mazenod’s way of thinking.

“As for me, I give thanks to God each time I think of you, in all my prayers.” To give thanks is to be aware that God is the first one to take the initiative in the apostolate and to thank Him for this. “I have also received some very good letters from Father Ricard. He tells me of all that our Fathers in the Oregon are seeking to do to evangelize and convert the people among whom they find themselves. May God be blessed for all the good that is being performed through our dear Oblates […].” [42] To Fathers Charles F. Gondrand and Charles Baret: “I am grateful to God for the success he has bestowed on your preaching […].” [43] He exhorts these two young priests to avoid vain glory since all success must be attributed to God.

“Every time I pray for all of you, I pray with joy.” “With joy.” Bishop de Mazenod is happy to learn how fruitful the apostolate of the Oblates is. “[…] I will have the consolation of leaving behind me a phalanx of good missionaries who spend their lives in extending the kingdom of Jesus Christ and weaving a crown for themselves to wear in glory. You would not believe the joy that this thought gives me.” [44] The missionaries felt the same joy: “I am not surprised that the consolations that the Lord allows you to taste in the exercise of your sublime ministry fill your souls with joy and make all pains seem light to you. The story alone which you have told me fills me with thankfulness to God […].” [45]

“With regard to your communion in the Gospel.” The mission is confided to the community and this is what gives solidarity to the Oblates in their apostolate. They are companions because of grace, because to participate in the mission of the Son of God is an extraordinary grace. Adopting the wording of Saint Paul, the Founder speaks of them having “communion in the Gospel”. That is why in as much as he possibly could he communicates to his correspondents news from other missions. For example, in a letter to Father Faraud, he says this: “I think these details about the family, together with those I have sent to Father Bremond, will give you pleasure. Do as much, I ask you again, on your part. You know that we should all say in the broadest sense omnia mea tua sunt since we are all but cor unum et anima una as long as we are in Heaven and on earth – that is our strength and consolation.” [46]

“I am quite certain that the One who began this good work in you will see that it is finished when the Day of Christ Jesus comes. It is only natural that I should feel like this toward you all, since […] you have a permanent place in my heart […] loving you as Christ Jesus loves you.” The Founder loves the Oblates with the tenderness of Christ. Many of his letters give witness to this. To Father Faraud, he wrote: “There is a father beyond the great lake whom you must not forget; know that you are always present to him, whatever the distance which separates you from him […]. You know me little if you do not know how much I love you.” [47] To Father Louis Toussaint Dassy, he wrote: “I do not know how my heart is equal to the affection which it nourishes for you all. It is a prodigy which is something of an attribute of God. […] No one among you could be loved more than I love him.” [48] He can say in all truth: “You have a permanent place in my heart […] loving you as Christ Jesus loves you” (Philippians 1:8), as he tells Father Mouchette: “It seems to me, dearly beloved son, that the more I love someone like yourself, the more I love God who is the source and bond of our mutual affection.” [49]

“My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception through Christ Jesus.” The best way for the Founder to show his affection was to pray for his Oblates. “[…] If I but told you how much I concern myself with you before the good Lord!” [50] Oraison in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament was the ideal moment for the Founder to meet with all his Oblates in the love of Christ. “I must say that it happens sometimes when I find myself in the presence of Jesus Christ that I experience a kind of illusion. It seems to me that you are adoring Him and praying at the same time as I and with Him being as present to you as to me, we feel as if we were very close to one another although not able to see each other.” [51]

Saint Paul’s statement leads to another reflection, which is the thought that discernment is the fruit of charity. This is clearly expressed in the verse that follows the passage quoted by Bishop de Mazenod. “My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognize what is best” (Philippians 1:9). Even if our Founder does not refer explicitly to this thought of Saint Paul, his way of acting is an illustration of it. It was always in an atmosphere of charity towards his Oblates that he made his decisions. It is because he loves them that he requires they report in detail on their mission so that he could know what was going on and act in a way that was for their best interests. As an example, let us take his relations with the first Oblates sent to Canada. “You are the object of my most tender solicitude, you are constantly in my mind; my heart could not love you more considering the fidelity of your response to your vocation.” [52] “You will realize at the distance we are from each other that the smallest items are bound to please.” [53] He reminds the superior of this group that decisions should be taken in an atmosphere of mutual confidence: “[…] Cease taking upon yourself alone a responsibility which necessarily has to be shared by others […] It is thus, by giving others marks of confidence, by showing them deference, by knowing how to modify one’s own ideas and to adopt those of others that one gains their sympathy, their help and their affection.” [54] The Founder, for his part, applied this rule to himself by inviting the self-same Father Jean-Baptiste Honorat to speak to him frankly: “You must not be afraid to query me when you believe I have given a decision which presents some problems. It will probably be because I have not been sufficiently informed.” [55]

These concrete examples illustrate the principle stated by Saint Paul that discernment is the fruit of charity.

To these verses the Founder adds the last part of verse 11 of the same chapter: “for the glory and praise of God”.

Following the example of Jesus who sought only the glory of his Father, Saint Eugene enthusiastically shares the same aspiration: “What more glorious occupation than to act in everything and for everything only for God, to love him above all else […] That is the true way to glorify him as he wants.” [56] One often finds statements of this kind in his writings: “Having always above all and solely in view the great glory of God and the salvation of souls”. Also writing to his father: “Provided that God is glorified and good gets done, that is all we can desire. That is the only reason we are here.” [57]

This text of Saint Paul, frequently quoted by the Founder, is very expressive for missionary spirituality: thanksgiving, joy, common sharing in the Gospel, fraternal affection, prayers for one another, discernment, the fruit of charity, for the glory of God. Thanks to a faithful reading of the Word of God, these Pauline themes shaped the soul of the Founder. The message is always relevant.

Witness OF Faith

Reflections on the Pastoral Letter of Lent 1844. [58]

When they were preaching parish missions, Father de Mazenod and his Oblate companions experienced the power of the Word of God, but they did not take the time to discuss it. Bishop de Mazenod had the opportunity of doing this in 1844 when Father Loewenbrück was preaching a series of parish retreats in several different churches in Marseilles. The Bishop took a lively interest in those missions and took part in a number of the mission exercises, which brought to mind those happy times when he himself was dedicated to this ministry. [59] This experience led him to choose parish missions as the theme for his Lenten Pastoral Letter. Even if Bishop de Mazenod had other people help him write this letter, as he had done for other pastoral letters, it is obvious that this letter is based on his own personal experience. Consequently, for us, it is the witness given by a missionary who proclaimed the Word of God and felt the living power it possessed. He made use of biblical texts to express his convictions throughout his letter.


He believed in the efficacious impact of the holy Word. “It has lost none of its effectiveness throughout the ages; we have experienced the fact that, having issued forth from the mouth of the one who is himself life eternal, it continues to be spirit and life.” Because it is “spirit and life” (John 6:52), the Word of God gives life. It is the power of life that the Founder admires among those faithful who welcome this word. Here, he is paraphrasing the text in order to bring out what he considers to be its spirit. The Word of God was like “a blazing fire which conveyed to them [in the souls] a divine warmth and led them to love the law of the Lord” (Psalm 119 (118), v.140). “It is the Lord who has let shine the brilliance of his face on his servants and they have learnt to follow his ways” (Psalm 119/118: 135). “The Gospel has given strength to their faith” (Romans 1:16). “They have received the words of the Lord; they devoured them and have discovered the joy and delight of a heart returned to God” (Jeremiah 15:16). As we see, in comparing these texts with the Bible text, Eugene de Mazenod does not hesitate to rework the sacred texts to bring out the message he sees in them. In this personal interpretation, he does not lapse into the danger of fantasy because he is an assiduous reader of the Bible and he is imbued with its spirit. This method was already used in the targum of Israel and is the method followed by the majority of the Fathers of the Church.

When he received news of missions being preached in his diocese, he would greet the dawning of salvation like Zachariah in the Benedictus: “the indescribable visits, dawning from the heavens, which the Lord bestows on his people, from the heart of his mercy, so as to give them the knowledge of salvation and the remission of sins” (Luke 1:77-78). We find here the self-same attitude of faith: Today, the Word of God is being realized among you.

In faith, he sees Jesus Christ Himself in the missionaries. The missionaries break the spiritual bread “in place of Jesus Christ himself” (2 Corinthians 5:20), and just as in the case of Jesus, “the Spirit of God rests upon them to lead them to evangelize the poor” (Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18).


He has confidence because God is acting even before the preachers began to preach. “Behold, there shall come days when I will send famine upon the land, not a hunger for bread which nourishes the body, nor a thirst which water satisfies, but the hunger and thirst to hear the Word of God” (Amos 8:11). The commentary on this text is based on Father de Mazenod’s own experience and it is always relevant. “Often the action of grace precedes the preaching of the Gospel and when hearts are touched by the first words of this marvelous preaching, they feel the need to open themselves […] to receive the divine seed.”

Even if some fruits of the mission take their time to appear, his confidence in the Word remains firm because he is sure of the power of this Word and it is still the Bible which sustains his confidence. “The word does not return empty to the one from which it issued” (Isaiah 55:10). “Alive and active, it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts” (Hebrews 4:12). “It is this light-filled expression of God’s words which gives understanding even to children” (Psalm 119/118, v. 130). In the enthusiasm of his confidence, Father de Mazenod intensifies the text of the Psalm, just like he strengthens the following passage from James: “It is the divine teaching which penetrates and imprints [60] itself deeply in souls and which has the power to save” (James 1:21). We see how the text can be intensified in the way Eugene did when he quoted it, but he consistently does this to express his certainty that the Word of God is strong enough to overcome all resistance.


Even if a long personal experience of parish missions gave Saint Eugene the opportunity to admire the workings of grace, he still remained just as enthusiastic as he was at the outset and the took the time to write to the faithful of his diocese, especially giving a deion of sinners flocking to the confessional. He then gives thanks to God: “Would this not lead you to believe that the mercies of the Lord, which the Prophet-King wanted to sing eternally (Psalm 89/88, v.1) are worthy of being praised with all the magnificence of his inspired language?” It is the working of the mercy of God and it is truly a marvelous thing in our eyes (Psalm 118/117, v.23).

The action of God is so powerful that it pushes people to holiness; it is “an almost irresistible movement which pushes souls toward God who leads them through […] the various degrees of justification, ascending through all the mysterious stages which raise them right up to him who is the source of all justice.” Then, sinners “create in themselves a new heart and a new spirit.” (Ez 18:31) This conversion is a victory of light over darkness and the heavens rejoice. “There is more joy in heaven over one single sinner who comes to conversion than for the ninety-nine just ones who have no need of conversion” (Luke 15:7). He becomes more specific about the joy in heaven: “The heavenly Father has regained his children that he had lost; the Son encounters others for whom he gave his life; and the Holy Spirit finds hearts renewed in which he takes up his abode; brothers have been presented to the angels and to the saints who are in glory”.

In bringing his Pastoral Letter to a close, Bishop de Mazenod expressed his happiness at having “experienced the power of the Word of God in his ministry in parish missions. He is pleased that God gave him ‘a holy family and a spiritual issue of Gospel workers destined for the same ministry’.” Using an expression of Saint Paul’s, he calls them “his crown and his joy” (Philippians 4:7). It is now up to the Oblates to live that same faith in the Word of God.

The Word of God received by the Oblates

The case of Father Berne, referred to above, is an example of faithfulness to the Lectio Divina. To express the thinking of a few Oblates who were the Founder’s contemporaries, I will use almost exclusively texts published by Father Yvon Beaudoin in the second series of Oblate Writings.

a) Father Tempier

On the flyleaf of his New Testament kept at Aix-en-Provence, Father Tempier had written in calligraphy this Latin passage from the Book of Joshua: “Have the book of this Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may carefully keep everything that is written in it. Then you will prosper in your dealings, then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8). It is his faith in the Word of God which dictated his conduct as superior of the Major Seminary of Marseilles. While, according to the historians, Sacred Scripture was neglected in the seminaries of that period, in Marseilles it was given a place of prominence. “Father Tempier’s rule, which first recalled that ‘Holy Scripture is absolutely necessary and indispensable for clerical students’, obliged every student to attend conferences which were given once a week, every Thursday morning (Art. 19). Over a period of four or five years, they covered a good introduction to each of the books of the two Testaments as well as an exegesis of the main passages.” [61] Father Tempier exhorted Father Dassy not to do too much archeology “to the detriment of the study of Sacred Scripture”. [62]

b. Blessed Joseph Gérard

According to Father Gérard, it was the Gospel which sheds light on his method of apostolate. To the questions he asked himself on this topic, “The answer is found on every page of the Gospel, one must love them, love them in spite of everything, love them always”. [63] If, in his retreat notes, he reproached himself for “frequent missing of […] Sacred Scripture”, [64] it was because it is important.

c. Father Casimir Aubert

His retreat notes for the year 1828 are worthy of being quoted in their entirety: “I will do the reading of Scripture with the same care and still more with much greater respect. I will always stand up with my head uncovered for this exercise. Until I have more time than I have at the moment, I will seek in the Scriptures alone a topic of edification, while at the same time being mindful of acquiring in this respect a degree of knowledge and learning essential for a person dedicated to the service of souls. But I must not remain satisfied with this rather meager knowledge, and as soon as times permits, I must give myself over to a serious study of this portion so essential for ecclesiastical knowledge and for that I will apply myself to studying each portion extensively and in detail, using the best available commentaries and especially having an assiduous recourse to prayer. I will do this reading as if it was God who was speaking to me through the sacred author and as if what I was reading was a letter the Lord has sent me from heaven, my true homeland.” [65] This final phrase encompasses everything the Church understands by the Lectio Divina.


Father Joseph Fabre (1861-1892) refers above all to the Constitutions and Rules. Speaking of the means to ensure our fidelity to our vocation, he says: “Study of Sacred Scripture and spiritual reading still offer each day an abundant sustenance drawn from the best sources to maintain our piety”. [66] In his report to the General Chapter in August of 1867, he reminded his hearers of the necessity of study, even for the eldest among them, and asks them all this question: “Where are we in relation to our studies of Sacred Scripture and theology?” [67] The message we gather from the circular letters of Father Fabre is that the Constitutions teach us how to live in fidelity and it is enough to put them into practice.

With Father Fabre’s authorization, Father Alexander Audruger was given the task of drawing up the Directoire pour les missions. He did not sign it as its author, but he received a letter of commendation from Cardinal Hippolyte Guibert who had preached parish missions under the Founder’s direction and who recognized in the Directoire a faithful following of Father de Mazenod’s method. In treating of the preparation required for preaching missions, the Directoire used these terms to express itself: “But what we must above all know and in view of this study are the Sacred Scriptures and theology. Holy Scripture is the liber sacerdotalis par excellence, as Saint Jerome tells us; in addition, he calls it substantia sacerdotii nostri. It is the rich store-house and the powerful arsenal upon which the holy Fathers and Doctors have drawn. It is the book one must devour: “Comede volumen istud, et vadens loquere ad filios Israel [Eat this scroll, then go and speak to the House of Israel.]” (Ezechiel 3:1) “Accipe librum et devora illum. [Take it and eat it.]” (Apocalypse 10:9) It is the Book of God. It contains everything: teaching of the truth, refutation of errors, condemnation of vice, doctrine of perfection.” The text adds a quotation from 2 Timothy 3:16. [68]

From the circular letters of Father Louis Soullier (1893-1897), we can point to two of them in which he speaks more at length about Sacred Scripture. On July 31, 1894, the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, on the order of Pope Leo XIII, published a letter on preaching. Father Soullier was not satisfied with communicating it to the Oblates; he also commented on it at length especially by using the Constitutions and Holy Scripture. Having recourse to the Word of God is of primordial importance, he said. For example, when the issue at stake is a simplicity adapted to the needs of people, the Superior General said: “Let us go draw abundantly at the living source of Sacred Scriptures”. And the following paragraph begins as follows: “In a word, let us be missionaries”. He reminds them of the example of the Founder: “He had only one goal: to convert souls through knowledge and love of Jesus Christ”. [69]

In the circular letter entitled, Des études du Missionnaire Oblate de Marie, from the beginning, he stresses the principle: “The study of Sacred Scripture is our primary study”. To develop his thought the Superior General had available to him a document which had a decisive impact on Scripture study in the Catholic Church, the encyclical letter, Providentissimus Deus. Father Soullier stated: “In it, Leo XIII shows us how, in fact, Sacred Scripture is, taken as a whole, the great power of the apostolate and the most effective tool for personal sanctification”. [70]

Father Cassien Augier (1898-1906) was Superior General at a very painful time for the Congregation. In France, it was the time of persecutions with the expulsion of the religious in 1903. Since many Oblates were of French origin at that time, it was the majority of the Congregation which sustained the blow. In speaking of these trials, Father Augier referred to the Bible, to the Lamentations of the Old Testament: “Tribulations and anguish.” (Psalm 116 (114-115) v.9), the destruction of communities (Psalm 132, 133), being stripped of our possessions Joel 26, 38 ff. He refers especially to the Passion of Jesus, Gethsemane (Matthew 20:38) with its acceptance of the Father’s will (Luke 22:42). The Oblates carry the cross with Christ (Matthew 10:38); they are reliving the lot of the first Christians, the persecuted Apostles (Acts 5:41), the scattered Christians. (Hebrews 11:38) He proclaimed to the Oblates the promise of Jesus: “your sorrow will be turned into joy” (John 16:20), “happy are those who are persecuted in the cause of right.” (Matthew 5:10) Sustained by the word of Christ, the Oblates will be faithful to the end. (Apocalypse 2:10) Their great strength is fraternal unity as recommended by Christ. (John 17:22) [71] In this way, the Word of God enlightens their faith and sustains the courage of the Oblates in a painful moment of their history.

For Father August Lavillardière (1906-1908) the problems were very different. At the beginning of the 20th century, problems of exegesis were passionately debated. In his circular letter of April 21, 1907, after reporting on the General Chapter of September 1906, while treating of the situation of the scholasticates, the Superior General cited several influential authors like Strauss, Baur, Harnack, and Renan. He promulgated the decree of the Chapter condemning Losy and forbade the teaching of his theses. [72] Just at the time when the Modernist crisis was spreading intellectual confusion, Father Joseph Lemius collaborated in the writing of the encyclical letter Pascendi which would appear on September 8, 1907. As for study of the Bible, the reaction of the Superior General and the Chapter was to comply with the Holy Father’s directives.

In the circular letters of Bishop Augustine Dontenwill (1908-1931) and Father Theodore Labouré (1932-1944), there is no special mention made of Bible study. Here and there a quote illustrates the Superior General’s thinking. We simply point out the Gospel allusions in the circular letter of Christmas 1915 which announced the celebrations for the first centenary of the Congregation. At its inception, the Congregation was nothing more than a mustard seed and it grew. What fostered its growth was the Oblates’ zeal for the poor. In this way, the Institute grew to be a powerful tree at the river’s edge. (Psalm 1:3) Some of Jesus’ words characterize the attitude of the Oblates: “I feel sorry for all these people” (Mark 8:2); “Come to me all you who labor and are overburdened” (Matthew 11:28); “To bring good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18); That is the mission that Jesus entrusted to his disciples: “As the Father sent me…” (John 20:21) [73]

Father Leo Deschâtelets (1947-1972) did much work to strengthen studies. In his report to the Chapter of 1953, he called for “a return to the spiritual sources which should slake our thirst and encourage us: the Holy Bible, the Holy Rule, spiritual teaching of all the saints, the teaching of Holy Mother, the Church.” [74] In presenting the Chapter deliberations, he said: “Let the professors at the scholasticate become specialists in the subjects they are teaching, as much as possible, taking a degree in that field… especially in Sacred Scripture […] to spend a period of time in the Holy Land”. [75] A majority of the provinces responded to this call as Father Daniel Albers pointed out in his report to the Chapter of 1959: “As for academic preparation, it is good and getting better due to the effort being made everywhere these last few years”. [76]

At the Chapter of 1959, Father Deschâtelets emphasized: “We still notice in our midst an emerging movement; a more in-depth study of the Bible considered as sustenance for the spiritual life […] We notice a hunger for Holy Scripture, a thirst for this living water that in the past did not appear in such a well defined way. In this way, Article 255, written into the Rule in 1818, rediscovers the integral dynamism it contains for the present generation of Oblates, more desirous than others were perhaps of a return to the more authentic, more living sources of spirituality.” [77]

He broaches this topic once again in his report to the 1966 Chapter. He wants to stress a point he has alluded to several times before: “[…] one point which deals with the actual movement of Biblical theology. As Oblates and as missionaries, we cannot ignore this return to Sacred Scripture. We should be specialists of the Word of God. We should cherish this duty all the more so since it reflects the thinking of the Sovereign Pontiffs and that of the Church in Council.” [78]

In this movement of renewal of Bible studies, the Constitutions and Rules drawn up by the 1966 Chapter contain a paragraph entitled A Lively Faith Enlightened by the Word of God. Articles 54 to 58 treat explicitly of the role of the Word of God in our apostolate.

The statements of Father Fernand Jetté (1974-1986) make up an outstanding message of unity to sustain the Oblates in fidelity to their vocation. He puts them in context already in his first letter, by quoting article 137 from the 1966 Constitutions: “love of the Gospel” which is love of Jesus Christ, to be lived completely and without reservation “in the midst of men”, especially the poorest, and in an “apostolic community”, that is to say, like the Twelve who had left everything to be with Jesus and to go and preach (cf. Mark 3:14). [79]

It is in the perspective of the Oblate vocation, then, that Father Jetté quotes the Bible, especially the New Testament. And, in a broader context, the example and teaching of Jesus Christ and the mind of the Apostles, as it was revealed in the Gospel, underlie his writings. Here are a few examples:

Love of Jesus Christ

Father de Mazenod “in his own life […] had encountered Christ and had come to know experientially the value of Christ’s blood”. [80] After referring to the grace of Good Friday, 1807, Father Jetté adds: “The overriding fact here is his personal experience of the redemptive mystery, his personal encounter with Christ the Savior”. [81] To live with Christ, the Oblates commit themselves by vow, more specifically “the vow of obedience likewise takes its inspiration from the attitude of Christ who voluntarily became obedient to the Father’s will, even to death on the cross (John 4:34; 5:30; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 10:7) and by such suffering learned what it meant to be obedient (Hebrews 5:8). […] In people’s eyes this vow gives special witness to the mystery of the world’s salvation accomplished by the sacrifice of the cross.” [82] A few pages before, Father Jetté could say: “For me the authentic Oblate is one who has truly left all to follow Jesus Christ”. [83]

To love the world

“God so loved the world that He gave up his only begotten Son, not to reject the world but so that the world might find salvation through him. The Oblate will ever be mindful that it is this same love which consecrates him and gives him his mission.” [84] Here we find the origins of this typical phrase inspired by a reflection on the Oblate vocation in the light of the Gospel: “The Gospel is love for man to the point of giving one’s life for him, but it is also the love for God, the Creator and Father of all men.” [85]

Sent to the poor

“Being capable of hearing the appeals of the poor of today […]. An appeal for justice and for sharing, an appeal for an existence that is more human and less stifling, an appeal to go beyond oneself and for love, an appeal for salvation and fullness of life in Jesus Christ. “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly”, Jesus said (John 10:10).” [86]

Like the Twelve

Fidelity to the grace received. For us, it is the grace handed on to us by the Founder that we must revive. “Such was Paul’s advice to Timothy: to fan into flame the gift that God had given him by the Apostle’s hand (cf. 2 Timothy 1:6).” [87]

Fidelity to the mission. “Saint Paul says that the only thing required of a servant of Christ, of a steward of God’s mysteries “is that he be found trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). [88]

Apostolic daring. Giving the example of a missionary ready to give his life: “When I read these lines, the words of St. Paul came to mind: “You did not receive a spirit of slavery leading you back into fear… (Romans 8:15).” [89] With the courage to proclaim Jesus Christ: “For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”, Peter and John affirmed before the Sanhedrin. (Acts 4:20)” [90]

Servant. To illustrate this theme, Father Jetté refers to texts quoted by the Founder on several occasions. “Let us not forget those beautiful words of St. Paul: Nos autem servos vestros per Jesum. With such an attitude, we can put up with every nuisance and endure all difficulties. (Diary, September 8, 1838).” “Whatever we may be, we are useless servants in the Father’s family household. (Letter to Father Mille, May 30, 1832).” [91]

These are only a few examples which bring out the richness of a reflection on the Oblate life in the light of the Gospel and the example of the Apostles. We can reap an abundant harvest of quotations from the body of Father Jetté’s texts quoted above.

The Chapter of 1980 characterized the Word of God as one of the spiritual resources that nourished Oblate life. [92]

In his commentary, Father Jetté highlights the two-fold fruit of the Word of God: “The Word of God is at one and the same time nourishment for our spiritual life and our apostolate”. He stresses a basic point: “It […] well states what is the Oblate’s first interest, namely, a deeper understanding of the Word of God as Savior. He learns to read ure with his heart, ‘a listening heart’ […]”. [93]


Biblical studies have seen great development since the time of the Founder. It is by taking the best possible advantage of the progress made in contemporary research that we can welcome the Word of God. Our holy Founder, along with the first Oblates, remains for us a model of faith and attachment to the message Jesus spoke to us. We can always make our own the resolution of Father Casimir Aubert: “I will do this reading as if it was God who was speaking to me through the sacred author and as if what I was reading was a letter the Lord has sent me from heaven, my true homeland.”



[1] Instruction pastorale sur les missions, 1844, p. 4.
[2] "Diary (1791-1821), III - Venice (1794-1797)", in Oblate Writings I, vol. 16, p. 38.
[3] Letter of November 1805, in Oblate Writings I, vol. 14, no. 13, p. 25.
[4] REY I, p. 70.
[5] See "Je serai prêtre, Eugène de Mazenod, de Venise à Saint-Sulpice, 1794-1811", in Etudes oblates, 13 (1954), p. 136-138.
[6] LEFLON I, p. 334.
[7] In Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 107, p. 9.
[8] In Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 114, p. 35.
[9] "Constitutions et Règles de la Société des Missionnaires de Provence", Second Part, Chapter one, par. 5, in Missions, 78 (1951), p. 61.
[10] Retreat in preparation for episcopal ordination, October 7 to 14, 1832, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 166, p. 207.
[11] In Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 121, p. 58. The "haire" is a coarse hair shirt worn next to the skin for purposes of mortification.
[12] See Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 144, p. 141 & 142; no. 146, p. 154; no. 156, p. 174.
[13] Retreat in preparation for the taking possession of the See of Marseilles, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 185, p. 238.
[14] Ibidem, p. 239.
[15] Daily program, ibidem, no. 186, p. 242 and "Daily spiritual exercises", ibidem, no.189, p. 246.
[16] Ibidem, no. 189, p. 247.
[17] Evangelical poverty, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 150, p. 160.
[18] Instruction of March 28, 1813, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 115, p. 40.
[19] "Memoirs of the Founder, circa 1845", in Selected Texts, no. 16, p. 39; see also Constitutions and Rules of 1982, p. 16.
[20] COSENTINO, George, Histoire de nos Règles, Ottawa, Oblate Studies Edition, 1954, vol. 1, p. 84.
[21] Ibidem, p. 137.
[22] Retreat of December 1814, Third day, Eighth meditation, Oblate Writings, I vol. 15, no. 130, p. 89.
[23] Constitutions and Rules of 1826, Second Part, Chapter two, par. 2., art. 2.
[24] Letter of June 18, 1821, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 6, no. 68, p. 80.
[25] Letter of September 8, 1852, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 11, no. 1119, p. 101.

[26] See MOTTE, René, "Textes bibliques utilisé par le Bx Eugène de Mazenod dans ses lettres et mandements", in Vie Oblate Life, 1989, p. 335-404.
[27] Constitutions and Rules of 1826, reproduced in the 1982 edition, p. 16.
[28] "Concerning mortification", in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 111, p. 29. The last words of this sentence are in Latin; it shows the missionary orientation of sharing in the Passion of Christ.
[29] General resolution. [Notes on predestination, end of December, 1811], in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 14, no. 101, p. 231.
[30] "Conference for ordination day [sub-diaconate]", in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 14, no. 65, p. 149 & 150. See DUCHARME, Sylvio, "Essai sur les sources uraires de nos saintes Règles", in Etudes oblates, 2 (1945), p. 139.
[31] First sentence from the Preface, free translation of Acts 20:28.
[32] "Lenten Pastoral Letter", February 16, 1860, in Selected Texts, no. 51, p. 73.
[33] See D'ADDIO, Angelo, Cristo crocifisso e la Chiesa abbandonata, Frascati, 1978, and LUBOWICKI, Kazimierz, Mystère et dynamique de l'amour dans la vie du bienheureux Eugène de Mazenod, Rome, 1990.
[34] Letter to the Oblates of the Vicariate of Colombo, November 17, 1851, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 4, no. 25, p. 85.
[35] Letter of March 1, 1853, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 5, no. 27, p. 65.
[36] Letter of May 28, 1857, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 2, no. 234, p. 146.
[37] Letter of December 2, 1854, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 11, no. 1256, p. 253.
[38] Resolutions as director at the seminary of St. Sulpice, January 1812, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 103, p. 2.
[39] Letter of October 10, 1832, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 8, no. 436, p. 75.
[40] Notes of annual retreat, October 1831, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 163, p. 184-185.
[41] In Oblate Writings, I, vol. 1, no. 8, p. 14.
[42] Journal, December 6, 1854, quoted in Missions, 11 (1873), p. 42 ff.
[43] Letter of April 16, 1850, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 11, no. 1041, p. 9.
[44] Letter to the Oblates of the diocese of Saint Boniface, May 26, 1854, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 2, no. 193, p. 75.
[45] Letter to the Fathers of Red River, June 28, 1855, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 2, no. 211, p. 103.
[46] Letter of May 10, 1848, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 1, no. 95, p. 193.
[47] Ibidem, p. 192.
[48] Letter of January 10, 1852, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 11, no. 1095, p. 69.
[49] Letter of March 22, 1857, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 12, no. 1345, p. 49.
[50] Letter to Father Francis Guinet, March 28, 1855, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 11, no. 1263, p. 261.
[51] Letter to Father Peter Aubert, February 3, 1847, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 1, no. 81, p. 162. See other examples in Selected Texts, nos. 263, 265-268.
[52] Letter to Father John Baptist Honorat, October 9, 1841, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 1, no. 9, p. 16.
[53] Letter to the same, March 26, 1842, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 1, no. 10, p. 19.
[54] Letter to the same, January 10, 1843, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 1, no. 14, p. 30.
[55] Letter of January 17, 1843, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 1, no. 15a, p. 34.
[56] Retreat made in the Aix seminary, December 1814, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 130, p. 81.
[57] Letter of July 8, 1816, in Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, no. 137, p. 126.

[58] The text will be quoted from the first edition, Marius Olive, Marseilles, 1844.
[59] See REY II, p. 173-174.
[60] The verb "empriendre [to imprint]", rarely used today, obviously means "to leave the impression of one's stamp."

[61] BEAUDOIN, Yvon, François de Paule, Henry Tempier, Oblate Writings II, vol. 1, p. 148.
[62] Ibidem, p. 155.
[63] GERARD, Joseph, Annual retreat, summer of 1886, Spiritual Writings, in Oblate Writings II, vol. 4, no. 16, p. 228; also in BEAUDOIN, Yvon, Le bienheureux Joseph Gérard, Oblate Writings II, vol. 3, p. 137.
[64] Monthly retreat, August 8, 1870, Spiritual Writings, in Oblate Writings II, vol. 4, no. 6, p. 204.
[65] AUBERT, Casmir, "Conduite à suivre dans mes divers exercises particuliers, 1828", Ecrits spirituels, in Ecrits oblats II, vol 5, no. 3, p. 150.
[66] Circular letter no. 13, November 21, 1863, in Circ. adm., I (1850-1885), p. (18) 100.
[67] Circular letter no. 22, August1,1871, in Circ. adm., I (1850-1885), p. (9) 207.
[68] Directoire pour les missions à l'usage des Missionnaires Oblats de Marie Immaculée, Tours, Mame and Sons, 1881, p. 12.
[69] Circular letter no. 59, February 17,1895, in Circ. adm., II (1886-1900), p. 40-41.
[70] Circular letter no. 61, December 8, 1896, in Circ. adm., II (1886-1900), p. 61 ff. See also, the article, Formation, in this dictionary.
[71] Circular letter no. 76, May 3, 1903, in Circ. adm., III (1901-1921), p. 11-26.
[72] Circular letter no. 92, April 21, 1907, in Circ. adm., III (1901-1921), p. (51 ff) 190 ff.
[73] Circular letter no. 113, December 25, 1915, in Circ. adm., III (1901-1921), p. 267 ff.
[74] Circular letter no. 201, May 1-27, 1953, in Circ. adm., VI (1953-1960), p. (45) 75.
[75] Circular letter no. 203, December 8, 1953, in Circ. adm., VI (1953-1960), p. (31) 137.
[76] Circular letter no. 212, December 22, 1959, in Circ. adm., VI (1953-1960), p. (38) 430
[77] Circular letter no. 208, September 1, 1959, in Circ. adm., VI (1953-1960), p. (58) 277.
[78] Circular letter no. 220, August 15, 1965, in Circ. adm., VII (1965-1966), p. (13) 181.
[79] "The direction of the years ahead", January 12, 1975, in Letters to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Rome, 1984, p. 12.
[80] "The Oblate charism", in The Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, General House, Rome, 1985, p. 49.
[81] Ibidem, p. 50.
[82] "An apostolic man and a religious", in The Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, p. 90 & 91.
[83] "The Oblate charism", in The Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, p. 65.
[84] Constitutions and Rules of 1966, C 9, quoted in Letters to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, p. 39.
[85] "To the members of the Oblate conference of Latin America", September 15, 1979, in Letters to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, p. 199.
[86] "An apostolic man and a religious", in The Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, p. 77 & 78.
[87] "The direction of the years ahead", in Letters to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Rome, 1984, p. 13-14.
[88] "The Oblate: Servant of God's people", in Letters to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, p. 125.
[89] "Catechesis and evangelization", October 30, 1977, in Letters to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, p. 57-58.
[90] "Evangelizing the Secularized World" and "An apostolic man and a religious", in The Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, p. 81 & 200; also, "To the members of the Oblate Conference of Europe", May 5, 1979, in Letters to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, p.164.
[91] In "The Oblate: Servant of God's people", in Letters to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, p. 123.
[92] See Constitutions and Rules of 1982, C 33, par. 2.
[93] O.M.I., the Apostolic Man: A Commentary on the 1982 edition of the Oblate Constitutions and Rules, General House, Rome, 1992, p. 197 & 198.

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