Today is the liturgical memorial of St. Vincent de Paul on the new calendar. And, today marks the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism for which Pope Francis sent a message.
Let us pray for God’s abundant blessings through St. Vincent de Paul upon the Vincentian Family and in particular for Father Tad and the Vincentian community in New Haven.
Here are a few paragraphs.
He [St. Vincent] was always progressing, open to seeking God and himself. Grace worked to supplement this constant quest: as a shepherd, he encountered Jesus the Good Shepherd in a striking way in the person of the poor. This occurred in a very special way when he allowed himself to be touched by the eyes of a man thirsting for mercy and by the situation of family lacking everything. At that moment, he was deeply moved by Jesus looking at him, inviting him to no longer live for himself, but to serve Jesus wholeheartedly in persons who are poor, whom Vincent de Paul would later call “our lords and masters” (Correspondence, Conferences, Documents XI, 349). His life then became steadfast service, up to his last breath. A verse from Scripture showed him the meaning of his mission: “The Lord has sent me to bring the Good News to the poor” (cf. Lk4:18).
Burning with the desire to make Jesus known to persons who are poor, Vincent passionately dedicated himself to His proclamation, particularly through popular missions and most especially by attending to the formation of priests. He quite naturally used a “little method”: speaking first of all through his life and then with great simplicity, in a familiar and direct way. The Spirit used him as an instrument to raise up a generous impulse in the Church. Inspired by the first Christians who were of “one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32), Saint Vincent founded the Confraternities of Charity in order to care for those most in need. They lived in communion and joyfully offered their possessions, convinced that Jesus and persons who are poor are the most valuable treasures and that, as he liked to repeat, “When you go to the poor, you encounter Jesus.”
This “little mustard seed” sown in 1617 developed into the Congregation of the Mission and the Company of the Daughters of Charity, branched out into other institutes and associations and became a great tree (cf. Mk 4:31-32), your Family. Everything, however, began with this little mustard seed. Saint Vincent never wanted to be a hero or a leader but a “little seed”. He was convinced that humility, gentleness and simplicity are the essential conditions for embodying the law of the seed that gives life by dying (cf. Jn 12:20-26). This law alone makes Christian life fruitful. According to this law, in giving we receive, in losing our lives we gain them and in remaining hidden we shine. He was also convinced that he could not do this alone but rather together, as Church and as the People of God. On this point, I enjoy recalling his prophetic insight of valuing the exceptional feminine qualities shown in Saint Louise de Marillac’s spiritual sensitivity and human understanding.
At the heart of the Vincentian Family is the search for “those who are the poorest and most abandoned” and a deep awareness of being “unworthy of rendering them our little services” (Correspondence, Conferences, Documents XI, 349).
In the glorious wounds of Jesus, may you find the strength of charity, the happiness of the grain that gives life by dying, the fecundity of the rock from which water gushes forth, the joy of coming out of yourself in order to go out into the world, free from nostalgia for the past, confident in God and creative regarding the challenges of today and tomorrow because, as Saint Vincent said, “love is inventive to infinity”.