The Charism of St. Vincent – Charity and Service

Anniversary 2

Vincent discovered his mission in life through “the first sermon of the Mission”. He did not know then the consequences of his commitment which are still apparent in our day.{…} He insisted on proclaiming first of all the central doctrine of faith and love. He was a man imbued with the goodness of Christ which flows from the mercy of the Father. {…}

Vincent’s first testimony was that of love. His life was nothing but love and, to summarise it, we could use the words he himself used about Christ: “His humiliations were only love, his labours only love, his prayers only love, and all his interior and exterior operations were only reiterated acts of his love.” Saint Vincent defined the love that God brings us and to which we are called to witness. God loves us. Vincent never had any doubt about this and he said in clear, simple language: ” God be praised! God be ever praised and glorified! Oh yes, brothers, once God conceives an affection for a soul, regardless of what it may do, He bears with it. Haven’t you ever seen a father who has a child whom he loves dearly? He lets that little one do whatever he likes to him, even sometimes telling him, ‘Bite me, my child.’ How does that happen? It’s because he loves that little child. God acts the same way with regard to us, brothers.”

But God wishes us to love him, with an open heart, a strong will, and by charity in action. “We must love him more than everything else”, and he loved to repeat that charity makes us go to God.

In this way, Saint Vincent shows us the right path. If love of God and for God is the source of our life, then charity for our neighbour is the soul of our lives. He transmitted the message of the Gospel with courage and perseverance. Charitable love was the driving force of his life and action.

“There is greater merit in loving our neighbour for the love of God than in loving God without any reference to our neighbour.” (XII, 582)

And he said that if I have a vocation to inflame the world, I must “inflame myself to love those with whom I live… How can we give charity to others if we do not have it among ourselves.” (XII, 583- 584)

Like St Vincent, we are ambassadors and “bringers” of God’s Love for the poor.

From: “Vincentian Prophecy and Hope“, Fr. Jean-Pierre Renouard,CM, Echos of the Company, 2009,4.