Today is the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul. Following is a short synopsis of his life. And, My wife and I have a relic of his, given to us her father who worked for the local St. Vincent de Paul after he had volunteered for them over 30 years. It was given to him by a very pious priest who actually still believed in intercession and miracles. We shall definitely ask his powerful intercession in our daily duties.
SAINT VINCENT de PAUL
Founder of the Lazarist Fathers
and the Daughters of Charity
His charity embraced the poor, the young and the aged, the provinces desolated by civil war, Christians enslaved by the infidels. The poor man, ignorant and degraded, was to him the image of Him who became as "a leper and no man." "Turn the medal," he said, "and you will see Jesus Christ." He went through the streets of Paris at night, seeking the infants and children left there to die - three or four hundred every year. Once robbers rushed upon him, thinking he carried a treasure, but when he opened his cloak, they recognized him and his burden, an abandoned infant, and fell at his feet. Not only was Saint Vincent the providence of the poor, but also of the rich, for he taught them to undertake works of mercy. When in 1648 the work of the foundlings was in danger of failure for want of funds, he assembled the ladies of the Association of Charity, and said, "Compassion and charity have made you adopt these little creatures as your children. You have been their mothers according to grace, when their own mothers abandoned them. Will you now cease to be their mothers? Their life and death are in your hands. I shall take your votes; it is time to pronounce sentence." The tears of the assembly were his only answer, and the work was continued.
St. Vincent offers his opinion:
"What is done for charity's sake is done for God. It is not enough for us that we love God ourselves; our neighbor also must love him; neither can we love our neighbor as ourselves unless we procure for him the good we are bound to desire for ourselves--viz., divine love, which unites us to our Sovereign Good. We must love our neighbor as the image of God and the object of His love, and must try to make men love their Creator in return, and love one another also with mutual charity for the love of God, Who so loved them as to deliver His own Son to death for them. But let us, I beg of you, look upon this Divine Savior as a perfect pattern of the charity we must bear to our neighbor."
The Priests of the Mission or Lazarists, as they are called, and thousands of the Daughters of Charity still comfort the afflicted with the charity of their holy Founder. It has been said of him that no one has ever verified more perfectly than Saint Vincent, the words of Our Lord: "He who humbles himself shall be exalted, and he that exalts himself shall be humbled..." The more Vincent strove to abase himself in the eyes of all, the more God took pleasure in elevating him and bestowing His blessings on him and on all his works. He died in 1660, in an old age made truly golden by his unceasing good works.
Most people who profess piety ask advice of directors about their prayers and spiritual exercises. Many of these are 'legends in their own mind'. Few inquire whether they are not in danger of damnation from neglect of works of charity. But then, since we are told that everybody goes to heaven, why bother? Let us never forget the terrible foretold words of the Final Judge:
"Depart from me, workers of iniquity; I was hungry and you did not feed Me; I was without shelter, you did not take Me in...; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me, etc." (Cf. Matt. 26:31-46)
From the Pen of Saint Vincent de Paul:
Every time that some unexpected event befalls us, be it affliction, or be it spiritual or corporal consolation, we should endeavor to receive it with equanimity of spirit, since all comes from the hand of God.
He who submits himself to God in all things is certain that whatever men say or do against him will always turn to his advantage.
After knowing the will of God in regard to a work which we undertake, we should continue courageously, however difficult it may be. We should follow it to the end with as much constancy as the obstacles we encounter are great.
We should never abandon, on account of the difficulties we encounter, an enterprise undertaken with due reflection.
We should be cordial and affable with the poor, and with persons in humble circumstances. We should not treat them in a supercilious manner. Haughtiness makes them revolt. On the contrary, when we are affable with them, they become more docile and derive more benefit from the advice they receive.
That which we suffer in the accomplishment of a good work, merits for us the necessary graces to insure its success.
We ought to have a special devotion to those saints who excelled in humility, particularly to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who declares that the Lord regarded her on account of her humility.
The continual labors and cares of St. Vincent had only one aim: the spiritual welfare of others and the prevention of all offences to God. He declaimed against those who incited others to sin and vice, and thus led them to eternal destruction. He fully comprehended the truth of the words of St. Dionysius the Areopagite: "Among all divine works none is more divine than laboring with God for the salvation of souls." Have you no opportunity to perform a work which is so agreeable in the sight of the Lord? Think well, and do not neglect it. St. Vincent was also convinced that among all evil works, there is none more evil and displeasing to God than when we incite others to sin and thus assist the devil in gaining souls. Those who do this are called by the Holy Fathers of the Church messengers, representatives, vicars of the devil, because they are sent and incited by him to execute his plans for the destruction of men. They are his vicars, because they do that which is really the devil's work. Still more severely speaks St. James of Nisibis: "All those," says he, "deserve the name of devils, who prevent others from keeping those commandments, which appear hard to keep, and who advise them to follow the devices of the flesh." He means to say that such people may be regarded as real devils; but I add that they are worse, more hurtful and more to be feared than the devils themselves, as many a person whom Satan cannot tempt, is incited to sin by their flatteries, promises, and still more by their bad example, and, hence is led to destruction. If you, therefore, desire to be a representative of the devil, or his vicar, you ought to be informed that his abiding place belongs also to you. According to the words of Christ, hell is prepared for the devil and his angels: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels " (Matth. xxv.). Angel means a messenger, a representative. For you and your equals, as angels and messengers of the devil; for you, deceiver, as a representative of the devil, for you is hell, and in hell the eternal fire, if you do not leave your wicked ways. Endeavor to repair the evil you have occasioned, and do penance. What will you do?
Novena Prayer in Honor of
St. Vincent de Paul O glorious Saint Vincent, heavenly patron of all charitable associations and father of all who are in misery, whilst thou wast on earth thou didst never cast out any who came to thee; ah, consider by what evils we are oppressed and come to our assistance! Obtain from thy Lord help for the poor, relief for the infirm, consolation for the afflicted, protection for the abandoned, a spirit of generosity for the rich, the grace of conversion for sinners, zeal for priests, peace for the Church, tranquillity and order for all nations, and salvation for them all. Yea, let all men prove the effects of thy merciful intercession, so that, being helped by thee in the miseries of this life, we may be united to thee in the life to come, where there shall be no more grief, nor weeping, nor sorrow, but joy and gladness and everlasting happiness. Amen
(Indulgence of 300 days; plenary indulgence once a month, on the usual conditions, for the daly devout recitation of this prayer. --Pius IX., Nov. 23, 1876)