1. The text of the testament and the circumstances surrounding it
  2. These words "sum up his life" and "are a synopsis of our Holy Rules"
  3. The impact this testament has had in the Congregation's history
  4. Conclusion

The text of the testament and the circumstances surrounding it

In the Congregation’s tradition, the Founder’s testament is considered to consist of the words he spoke on the eve of his death, Pentecost Monday, May 20, 1861.

Father Joseph Fabre’s circular letter of the following May 26 is the primary source for the narration of this event.

In the afternoon of May 20, Father Henry Tempier told Eugene de Mazenod that “all hope was lost”. The Bishop offered his life in sacrifice and asked for his Oblate cross and his rosary. They recited the prayers for the dying and the rosary. The priests from the seminary arrived after the Regina cæli. The sick man renewed his vows and then blessed the Oblates and the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux. Father Fabre, superior of the seminary, then asked him: “Please express to us the final desires of your heart”. The Founder replied: “Among yourselves practice charity, charity, charity ? and, outside, zeal for the salvation of souls”. [1]

Father Fabre added that shortly thereafter, upon the arrival of Father Ambroise Vincens and the community from Calvaire, the sick man “wanted to repeat… everything he had already said. Such is the treasured testament that this beloved Father left us; such are his final thoughts, sentiments and desires”. [2]

The Founder’s legal will bears the date of August 1, 1854. [3] It contains in particular a long list of bequests to the seminary and the parishes of Marseilles. In the introduction, Bishop de Mazenod expressed once again the affection he felt, especially for the clergy of his diocese. In the eulogy at the Bishop’s funeral on July 4, 1861, Bishop Jacques Jeancard wrote: “In his will, written by his own hand, he expressed his feelings toward his priests. The content of this will is a genuine testament of love for his diocese. Subsequently, the notary public [Gavot] called it a hymn to charity”. [4]

In the introduction to the will, Bishop de Mazenod’s only mention of the Oblates occurred in the context of his relying upon the powerful prayers of the clergy, the religious men and women “as well as on the members of the religious family of which I am more especially the father and whose praises a proper reserve prevents me from singing”. [5]

The Founder’s last written exhortations to his Oblates were published when he promulgated the second edition of the Rules in his circular letter of August 2, 1853. The period 1850-1856 was marked by a number of deaths and departures from the Congregation. With a great deal of humility, their spiritual father spoke to his too-active sons, absorbed by their labors, and stressed exclusively the striving for sanctity and the practice of fraternal charity. He wrote: “My well-beloved sons, I conclude this long letter by recommending myself more urgently than ever to the prayers of each one of you, so that from God’s goodness I may obtain pardon for all the faults I may have committed in governing this dear family he has committed to me and to which I have dedicated my existence; and that he grant me now when my days are declining to see it grow in virtue and holiness, just as he has given me to see it increase in number and extension”.

“I sum up all my recommendations and wishes with these words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians:“Finally, brethren, rejoice; strive to be perfect; help one another; be united; live in peace, and the God of love and of peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” [6]

In a letter of January 29, 1861 to the Congregation, Father Tempier gave us the first formulation of Bishop de Mazenod’s oral testament to the Oblates. On January 28, 1861 at ten o’clock in the morning, Bishop Hippolyte Guibert wanted to bring the sick man Viaticum with all due solemnity. Clergy from the city and the Oblates from Marseilles, more than seventy in number, took part in the procession.

Father Tempier wrote: “Before receiving Holy Communion our venerated Father wanted to reveal to us the full beauty and quality of his heart. Since he could not speak himself, he had asked Archbishop Guibert to tell us two things on his behalf: that he had always loved us and would always love us, and that he wanted us, for our part, to love each other as brothers; that this mutual affection would make us happy, holy and strong to do good. God will surely grant us the grace to hear this loving and saintly voice in our midst for a long time yet; but let us never forget the words that our Father spoke on this solemn occasion. They are a summary of his life; they are the core of the holy Rules that he gave us […].” [7]

These words “sum up his life” and “are a synopsis of our Holy Rules”

No one was better equipped than Father Tempier, the intimate friend and faithful co-worker of Bishop de Mazenod from 1816 to 1861, to weigh judiciously the words the Founder spoke on January 29 and above all those of May 20, 1861, words which summed up his life and were “a synopsis of our Holy Rule” and, we can add, are a synthesis of all the exhortations he addressed to his Oblates throughout his whole life.

In Bishop de Mazenod’s writings, the texts are few where the two terms charity and zeal are used in the same sentence.

The first, however, is worth its weight in gold since it deals with the matter of the first article of the 1825-1826 Rule: the end or object of this humble Congregation is that “diocesan priests, united and living together as brothers (Psalm 132) may devote themselves, above all things, to the preaching of the Gospel to the poor”. [8] In an August 12, 1817 letter to Father Tempier, Father de Mazenod wrote in the same vein: “For the love of God never cease to inculcate and preach humility, abnegation, forgetfulness of self, disdain for worldly esteem. May these be ever the foundations of our little Society which, combined with a truly disinterested zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, and the most tender, affectionate and sincere charity amongst ourselves, will make of our house an earthly paradise and will establish it in more solid a manner than all possible orders and laws”. [9]

Another most important text, was written in a moment of sadness after learning that the members of the community of Notre-Dame du Laus were living a lifestyle far removed from the ideal dreamed of by their Founder and set forth in the Rules. In a July 29, 1830 letter to Father Guibert, he wrote: “Charity is the pivot on which our whole existence turns. That which we ought to have for God makes us renounce the world and has vowed us to his glory by all manner of sacrifice, were it even to be our lives. It is in order to be worthy of this God to whom we are consecrated that we have vowed to renounce ourselves by obedience, riches by poverty, pleasures by chastity. […] Charity for our neighbour is again an essential part of our spirit. We practice it first amongst us by loving each other as brothers, by considering our Society only as the most united family which exists on the earth, by rejoicing over the virtues, the talents and other qualities that our brothers possess just as much as if we possessed them ourselves, in bearing with mildness the little faults that some have not yet overcome, covering them over with the mantle of the most sincere charity, etc.; and as for the rest of mankind, in considering ourselves only as the servants of the Father of the family commanded to succour, to aid, to bring back his children by working to the utmost, in the midst of tribulations, of persecutions of every kind, without claiming any reward other than that which the Lord has promised to faithful servants who have worthily fulfilled their mission”. [10]

Even if it is true that in the Founder’s writings we find few texts where he mentions both together, the fact remains that he spoke about zeal often and of fraternal charity even more frequently. Above all, he lived these two realities in an intense fashion.


It has often been said that Father de Mazenod did not give charity a high profile in the first edition of the Rule. Nonetheless, we still find in the Rule some fifteen references to charity with an additional fourteen allusions to it. [11] The strongest text reads as follows: “They will all be united by the closest bonds of charity and in perfect submission to superiors”. [12]

During the course of his life, it was especially through his exhortations that Bishop de Mazenod stressed the importance of fraternal charity among his Oblates. Hundreds of times in his letters he spoke of charity, either to declare how necessary it was or to point out failings in this area or to rejoice in the way it was being faithfully lived. [13]

Two expressions reappear with great frequency in his writings: Among ourselves we should have “but one heart and soul” [14] or again: Fraternal charity constitutes the “distinguishing characteristic” of the Congregation. [15] We limit ourselves to quoting the most important of these texts, a letter written from the Quirinal in Rome, on December 2, 1854: “I would want all the scholastic brothers to be imbued with the family spirit which ought to exist among us. I have seen many religious orders, I am in very intimate relations with those that are most regular. Well, apart from their virtues I also give them credit for a great esprit de corps;however, this more than paternal love that the head has for the members of the family, this cordial affinity of the members for their head which establishes between them a relationship springing from the heart and which forms true family ties between us – father to son, son to father – this, I have not come across anywhere else. I have always thanked God for it as a particular gift which he has deigned to grant me; for it is the temper of heart that he has given me, this expansive love which is my own gift and which pours itself out on each one of them without taking anything from the others, just like, I make bold to say, God’s love for men. I am saying that it is this sentiment, which I know comes from Him who is the source of all charity, which has evoked in the hearts of my children this reciprocity of love which forms the distinctive character of our beloved family. May this help us mutually to appreciate the beauty of our vocation and may it all be attributed to God for his greater glory. This is the most ardent wish of my heart”. [16]

But, as Father Tempier told us, first and foremost, Bishop de Mazenod lived what he preached. One day he wrote: “My life is to follow my heart”. [17] It was his will that his sons should live and work in community, but in a fraternal community united by the bonds of charity. [18] He himself could feel fully alive only where there reigned affection and mutual understanding. J. Paguelle de Follenay compared the Bishop of Marseilles to Saint Francis of Sales and wrote: “The symphony of their moral qualities shared the same dominant theme: They were men of the heart. That is, they possessed goodness, compassion and an effusive tenderness. Nothing was more contrary to their spiritual temperament than a cold rigidity and a legalistic regularity. For them, everything sprang from love and flowed back to love”. [19]

The Founder had a deep love for his Oblate sons and often gave his love verbal expression. [20] The expressions he used, so strong and varied in the forms they adopted, certainly contained nothing of false posturing or domination, but sprang from a sincere heart and a genuinely deep friendship. He truly rejoiced with those who rejoiced and shared the pain of those who suffered. Once again, let a couple of quotes suffice. Before leaving for Rome on January 17, 1851, he wrote to Father Charles Baret: “You are aware, my very dear son, that my big failing is to love with a real passion the children God in his goodness has given me. No mother’s love comes close to it. Perfection would lie in being indifferent to the greater or lesser extent that this maternal affection were reciprocated. That is where I fall down. I make an effort, without success, and even while I do love those who set no value on my love, which is an effect of the grace of state of my position, I humbly confess that I do experience an inexpressible consolation and a kind of heightened tenderness towards those who understand my heart’s feelings and give me something in return for what I am for them”. [21]

In a similar vein, he wrote to Father Toussaint Dassy on January 10, 1852: “I do not know how my heart is equal to the affection which it nourishes for you all. […] No, there is not on this earth a creature to whom God has accorded the favour of loving so tenderly, so strongly, so constantly so great a number of persons. Here it is not simply a question of charity; no, it is a maternal sentiment which refers to each of you, without prejudice for the others. No one among you could be loved more than I love him. I love each one fully as if he were the only beloved and I experience this really exquisite feeling for each one. It is wonderful!” [22]

In his spiritual testament, the Founder repeated the word charity three times and mentions zeal only once. This would seem to be an accurate reflection of the relative percentage of these exhortations. He spoke more often of charity than of zeal because in regard to the latter, more often than not, the Oblates needed to be told to exercise restraint.


The fact that the Congregation was founded to evangelize the poor because of love of one’s neighbor, an ardent consuming love, makes itself obvious in all the pages of the Rules of 1818 and 1825-1826. It is enough to mention article one and the Nota bene of the first chapter of the 1818 Rule where we read: “They are called to be the Saviour’s co-workers, the co-redeemers of mankind; and even though, because of their present small number and the more urgent needs of the people around them they have to limit the scope of their zeal, for the time being to the poor of our countryside and others, their ambition should, in its holy aspirations, embrace the vast expanse of the whole earth […]” [23] “Consequently, it is urgent [that we do everything in our power] to bring back to the fold the sheep who have strayed, to teach these decadent Christians who Jesus Christ is and to snatch them from the bondage of the devil […]” [24]

On October 8, 1831, commenting on the Rule, the Founder wrote: “Will we ever attain to an accurate appreciation of this exalted vocation? In order to achieve this, we would have to grasp the excellence of the end of our Institute, indisputably the most perfect that we could set for ourselves in this world since the end of our Institute is the same as the end the Son of God had in mind when he came to earth: the glory of his heavenly Father and the salvation of souls. […] He was especially sent to evangelize the poor […] and we were founded precisely to work for the conversion of souls and especially to evangelize the poor”. [25]

These few reflections do not arise from a passing fit of fervor; they are an authentic expression of the Founder’s thought and life. His thought is clearly expressed in many of the letters written during the period stretching from his seminary days to the day of his death. On June 29, 1808, he wrote his mother telling her about his plans to enter the seminary. At that time already he wrote: “As the Lord is my witness, what he wants of me is that I renounce a world where it is almost impossible to find salvation, such is the power of apostasy there; that I devote myself especially to his service and try to reawaken the faith that is becoming extinct amongst the poor; in a word, that I make myself available to carry out any orders he may wish to give me for his glory and the salvation of the souls he has redeemed by his precious blood. […].” [26]

On October 11, 1809, he stated further: “Dear mother, if you really grasped a great truth, that souls ransomed by the Man-God’s blood are so precious that, even if every human being, past, present, and to come, were to spend, to save just one single one, every thing they have by way of talents, wealth and life, it would still be time well, nay admirably well spent […]” [27]

In his first letters to Father Tempier, the same consuming zeal shows itself. In an October 9, 1815 letter, he wrote: “Dwell deeply on the plight of our country people, their religious situation, the apostasy that daily spreads wider with dreadfully ravaging effects. Look at the feebleness of the means employed to date to oppose this flood of evil. […] Full of confidence in the goodness of Providence, [we] have laid the foundations of an establishment which will steadily furnish our countryside with fervent missionaries. These will ceaselessly engage in destroying the empire of the demon, at the same time as providing the example of a life worthy of the Church in the community which they will form […]” [28]

Then, on August 22, 1817, he added: “But who are we indeed that the good God should listen to our pleas? We are, or ought to be, holy priests who consider themselves happy and very happy to devote their fortune, their health, their life in the service and for the glory of our God. We are put on earth, particularly those of our house, to sanctify ourselves while helping each other by our example, our words and our prayers. Our Lord Jesus Christ has left to us the task of continuing the great work of the redemption of mankind. It is towards this unique end that all our efforts must tend; as long as we will not have spent our whole life and given all our blood to achieve this, we have nothing to say; especially when as yet we have given only a few drops of sweat and a few spells of fatigue. This spirit of being wholly devoted to the glory of God, the service of the Church and the salvation of souls, is the spirit that is proper to our Congregation, a small one, to be sure, but which will always be powerful as long as she is holy. Our novices must steep themselves in these thoughts, which must sink deep in them and be often meditated. Each Society in the Church has a spirit which is its own; which is inspired by God according to the circumstances and needs of the times wherein it pleases God to raise these supporting bodies or rather it would be better to say these elite bodies which precede the main army on the march, which excel it in bravery and which thus obtains the more brilliant victories”. [29]

Therefore, “being wholly devoted to the glory of God” is the spirit specific to our Congregation just like the family spirit and fraternal charity “constitute its distinctive character”.

In letters to his Oblates, the Founder often spoke of zeal, sometimes to encourage those Oblates which were more timid or more concerned with living their religious life rather than for the salvation of souls, [30] but most often he did it to check excesses of zeal at the expense of the interior life. [31] No one needed to urge the Oblates to be zealous; it was enough for them to recognize the forceful language their Rule used in speaking of this topic, [32] to learn with what dedication their spiritual father had labored as a young priest ministering to prisoners, the youth and the abandoned souls of Aix, then of having seen him at work in Marseilles in the course of their years there in the novitiate or the scholasticate. [33] In 1864, Mr. Cailhol, Canon of Marseilles, said the Bishop of Marseilles had been “consumed with the zeal that filled the Apostles” [34] and Bishop Jeancard wrote: “Zeal for the salvation of souls was his most outstanding virtue […]” [35]

This love of souls and this eagerness to see them achieve salvation possessed him to such a degree that several times in the course of his life he declared himself ready to die a martyr’s death [36] and he offered [37] and risked [38] his life to save them.

The impact this testament has had in the Congregation’s history

The Oblates have never forgotten this spiritual testament, this summary of his exhortations and his life, left to them by their Founder. To track down all the allusions to it in Oblate literature and all the applications made of it in the life of the Congregation would be an arduous task. Nevertheless, in this regard, we should call to mind some writings, especially writings of the Superiors General and let us remind ourselves of some events where it seems that the Oblates attempted to live according to the dying wishes of Bishop de Mazenod.

Among the Superiors General, Father Joseph Fabre was the one who referred most often to this testament. In an implicit or explicit fashion, he referred to it in at least nine circular letters. Fathers Louis Soullier, Cassien Augier, Théodore Labouré referred to it in two circular letters each; Bishop Augustin Dontenwill alludes to it [39] in four circular letters; Father Léo Deschâtelets alludes to it in eight [40] of his circular letters; Father Richard Hanley makes one allusion [41] to it and Father Fernand Jetté alludes to it twice. [42]

We notice that the Superiors General, [43] like the Founder, [44] speak more often of charity than they do of zeal. Following the Founder’s example, all of them stress several times that fraternal charity is, or ought to be, the distinguishing sign for Oblates and all of them repeat several times, [45] once again following the example of the Founder, [46] that among ourselves we should have “only one heart and one soul”.

Without doubt the teachings of the Founder have penetrated deeply into the souls of his spiritual sons. The two favorite expressions mentioned above are often found in Oblate writings [47] as well as the evoking of his spiritual testament. [48] During Bishop de Mazenod’s lifetime as well as after his death, his sons have striven to practice this charity among themselves and have always been urged on by a bold zeal.


We know how Bishop Jeancard, grateful for what he had witnessed, praised the charity which reigned among the fathers and brothers of the first community at Aix. For example, he wrote: “The cor unum et anima una which the Founder enjoined upon his Oblates in his Rules as one of the distinguishing features of the Society was truly the distinguishing trait of this small community”. [49] And Father Tempier added: “It is the rule of charity in its most captivating form. Ah! if worldlings could read what is going on in our hearts, they would fret and fume that they were so far removed from true happiness”. [50]

Among our documentation, we find letters from novices and scholastics of the Notre-Dame du Laus community, the second house of the Congregation, where it seems the spirit of one heart and one soul reigned as well. [51] For his part, Toussaint Dassy, a seminarian in Marseilles in 1829, states that he was drawn to join the Congregation when he witnessed the unity and charity which reigned among the seminary directors. [52] In the same period of time, at least three Oblates requested the Founder’s permission to offer their life to God in the place of Father Marius Suzanne since they considered him more important than themselves. [53] The same atmosphere of charity existed at Notre-Dame de Lumières in 1840. In his October 10 acts of visitation, Father de Mazenod wrote: “We have just spent five wonderful days among this portion of our dear family. How sweet were the exchanges we had with each member of this house! We observed that in this place individuals are serving God to the best of their ability, that community members love each other as brothers, that all hearts are so closely united that never is there even the slightest discord […]”

Either during his studies at Marseilles or in the course of his trip in 1859, Bishop Vital Grandin was particularly struck by the attention lavished upon him by the Founder. In 1859, he wrote: “During the time I spent with him, he watched over me like a loving mother, seeing to it that I lacked nothing at table”. [54]

In 1861, Father Joseph-Marie Clos stated that, in Texas, the diocesan clergy admired the fraternal charity which reigned among the Oblates. One priest even said that he had never seen such charity in any other community. [55]

All of those who had occasion to live at the seminary in Marseilles, visited it, or the scholasticate of Montolivet between 1854 and 1862 were impressed by the climate of charity that reigned there. [56] Bishop Louis d’Herbomez echoes these same sentiments in a letter to Father Tempier of April 17, 1863: “Ah! What a fine thing it is, and how sweet to live together as brothers having only one heart and one soul”.

In his work written for youth with the title Missionnaires Oblats de Marie Immaculée,Father Yves Guéguen wrote in 1947: “This family spirit consisting of mutual sincere affection, thoughtful attention and heartfelt simplicity has been faithfully maintained among the sons of Bishop de Mazenod. With the tender love of Mary Immaculate which is its pure source, it constitutes in a visible way the treasured heritage of their Institute. It constitutes the delight of their daily life; it constitutes the joy and consolation of their celebrations and family reunions; it gives their humble hospitality a special flavor of cordiality; finally, it predisposes them to act with gentleness, affability and in an obliging manner with regard to the faithful they are called to evangelize”. [57]

Faithful to this Oblate tradition, the Constitutions and Rules of 1982 several times evoke the spiritual testament, especially in Constitution 37 where it is stated: “The Founder left us a testament: “Among yourselves practice charity, charity, charity – and, outside, zeal for the salvation of souls”. [58]

In spite of an obvious tension involved in following this ideal, we should not delude ourselves thinking that this charity was lived in a perfect way in the Oblate communities of the Founder’s lifetime and after his death. [59] If references to charity occurred so frequently in the writings of the Superiors General, it was no doubt because they tried to stress the wonderful way it was usually lived, but also to point out weaknesses in this area and to urge Oblates to be still more faithful to this essential point of the Rules and the wishes of Bishop de Mazenod.


Bishop de Mazenod, as well as the Superiors General, spoke of the missionary activity of the Oblates and their zeal, but almost never to complain or to encourage them in this regard. The Founder in particular had words of admiration and praise for the successes obtained in parish missions and for the courage of missionaries working among the heathen. [60] His astonishment at seeing how, under his leadership, in the matter of a few years his sons were working in the entire North American continent from the Pacific to the Arctic oceans was quite justified. Later on, one writer called this expansion the great white epic. [61] At the same time, they were working in missions in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and crisscrossing South Africa establishing missions among several tribes. [62]

The tradition was maintained to the point that in 1932 Pope Pius XI called the Oblates the specialists of difficult missions. Indeed, speaking to the members of the General Chapter, he said: “Once again we have seen how you hold to your fine, glorious and holy specialty which is that of dedicating your resources, your talents and your lives to the souls of the most abandoned in the most difficult missions. […] A very fine and noble thing that assures for you in a way unique and unequaled, the blessing of God and the complete fullness of the missionary spirit. Moreover, you give witness to it in point of fact: This spirit is the spirit of your soul”. [63]

The Superiors General often expressed themselves in the same vein as the Founder, especially in their reports on the state of the Congregation at the beginning of each General Chapter. At the 1947 General Chapter as well as at the centenary celebration of the provinces of France in 1951, Father Léo Deschâtelets stressed the important role played by the French missionaries throughout the years in fostering the missionary spirit, the “sacred fire” which inspired and urged on the Oblates everywhere. [64] Again at the 1953 General Chapter, he wrote: “Our mission Vicariates maintain for the Institute its momentum and its apostolic dynamism. They are at the cutting edge of the apostolate for the conversion of souls and we are proud of that. Never will we be able to say enough concerning with what genuinely missionary spirit our Oblates devote themselves to the task of converting the pagans, maintaining in the way of salvation those rescued from error and the devil in the three Archdioceses, five Dioceses and thirteen Vicariates Apostolic entrusted to our care. Whereas in some of the older mission Vicariates, our fathers, faithful to the tradition of their predecessors struggle ceaselessly to extend and to assure the continued existence of the Kingdom of Christ, in the newer Vicariates, Garoua for example, the situation is one of intoxication with the wave of first converts, the numerous conversions, first settlements in the heart of the jungle. There we see recurring the missionary epic of the first days of our apostolate in foreign countries. In my estimation, the Church can find nothing to criticize among us since we are doing everything in our power to respond to her expectations of us when she entrusted to the Congregation the responsibility and honor of evangelizing these territories”. [65]

At the 1986 Chapter, it was Pope John Paul II who praised the zeal of the Oblates in the past and invited the present-day Oblates to remain faithful to this tradition: “For over 160 years the Oblates of Mary Immaculate have for their part written a marvelous chapter in the missionary history of the present-day Church, from the Far North to the Equator. You will permit me to hold up as examples the very great figure of Bishop Vital Grandin in the past, and in our day that of the President of South Africa’s Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Hurley. I give thanks to God for sensing that at the present time a good number of Oblates, desirous of involving all their brothers, want to grasp firmly the ideal which swept along their Blessed Founder into a Gospel missionary adventure whose astonishing development he did not dare imagine, given the thousands of obstacles that arose in his path. […]”

“Sons of Eugene de Mazenod, whose zeal to proclaim the Gospel has been compared to the Mistral wind, heirs of a lineage nearly two centuries old of Oblates impassioned for Jesus Christ, let yourselves be drawn more than ever by the vast and poor masses of Third World regions as also by the Fourth World of the West, stagnating in misery and often in the ignorance of God!” [66]


Before his departure from this earth, Jesus Christ left his disciples this commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12) and he publicly proclaimed his final command: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Before he died, it was a natural thing for Bishop de Mazenod to leave his sons the same motto or spiritual testament: “Among yourselves practice charity, charity, charity – and, outside, zeal for the salvation of souls”. In consequence, should they not strive to become other Jesus Christs [67] and walk in the footsteps of the Apostles whom they considered as their first fathers? [68]

The Constitutions of 1982 express themselves in the same vein: “We are men “set apart for the Gospel” (Romans 1:1), men ready to leave everything to be disciples of Jesus. The desire to co-operate with him draws us to know him more deeply, to identify with him, to let him live in us. We strive to reproduce in ourselves the pattern of his life. […]” (C 2).

“Jesus personally formed the disciples he had chosen, initiating them into ‘the mystery of the Kingdom of God’ (Mark 4:11). As a preparation for their mission he had them share in his ministry; to confirm their zeal he sent them his Spirit”.

“This same Spirit forms Christ in those who endeavour to follow in the Apostles’ footsteps. As they enter more deeply into the mystery of the Saviour and his Church, he moves them to dedicate themselves to the evangelization of the poor” (C 45).

In 1894, Father Baffie wrote that, echoing the last accents of his dying voice, this spiritual testament of Bishop de Mazenod’s is “the full and complete revelation of the noble aspirations which provided our venerable Founder with an ongoing reason to keep his heart beating. Above and beyond that, it is a complete program for the achieving of perfection”. [69] We could add that it gives us the deion of what a son of Bishop de Mazenod should be. It is by measuring himself against this model that the individual member of the Congregation will find out whether he is faithful or not to his vocation as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate. [70]