St Vincent de Paul, Priest – 27 September
September 26, 2016
St Vincent de Paul was born to a peasant family. A highly intelligent youth, Vincent spent four years with the Franciscan friars at Acq, France getting an education. Tutor to children of a gentlemen in Acq. He began divinity studies in 1596 at the University of Toulouse. Ordained at age 20.
Taken captive by Turkish pirates to Tunis, and sold into slavery. Freed in 1607 when he converted one of his owners to Christianity.
Returning to France, he served as parish priest near Paris where he started organizations to help the poor, nursed the sick, found jobs for the unemployed, etc. Chaplain at the court of Henry IV of France. With Louise de Marillac, founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity. Instituted the Congregation of Priests of the Mission (Lazarists). Worked always for the poor, the enslaved, the abandoned, the ignored, the pariahs.
A Writing of St Vincent de Paul
Serving the poor is to be preferred above all things
Even though the poor are often rough and unrefined, we must not judge them from external appearances nor from the mental gifts they seem to have received. On the contrary, if you consider the poor in the light of faith, then you will observe that they are taking the place of the Son of God who chose to be poor.
Although in his passion he almost lost the appearance of a man and was considered a fool by the Gentiles and a stumbling block by the Jews, he showed them that his mission was to preach to the poor: He sent me to preach the good news to the poor. We also ought to have this same spirit and imitate Christ’s actions, that is, we must take care of the poor, console them, help them, support their cause.
Since Christ willed to be born poor, he chose for himself disciples who were poor. He made himself the servant of the poor and shared their poverty. He went so far as to say that he would consider every deed which either helps or harms the poor as done for or against himself. Since God surely loves the poor, he also loves those who love the poor. For when one person holds another dear, he also includes in his affection anyone who loves or serves the one he loves. That is why we hope that God will love us for the sake of the poor. So when we visit the poor and needy, we try to understand the poor and weak. We sympathise with them so fully that we can echo Paul’s words: I have become all things to all men. Therefore, we must try to be stirred by our neighbours’ worries and distress. We must beg God to pour into our hearts sentiments of pity and compassion and to fill them again and again with these dispositions.
It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer. Do not become upset or feel guilty because you interrupted your prayer to serve the poor. God is not neglected if you leave him for such service. One of God’s works is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out. So when you leave prayer to serve some poor person, remember that this very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. Since she is a noble mistress, we must do whatever she commands. With renewed devotion, then, we must serve the poor, especially outcasts and beggars. They have been given to us as our masters and patrons.