Juan Corpus Delgado, CM reflects on the significance of the spiritual experience of Louise de Marillac in regard to Vincentian Spirituality.
“I dare to say that today we are in a position in which we can be certain (in accord with our research) that what we refer to as Vincentian spirituality was refined as a result of the mutual understanding and collaboration between Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac.
“In the Foreword of the biography of Louise de Marillac written by Father Dirvin, Cardinal Terence Cooke wrote: It is regrettable that the great heart and original genius of this great woman have been obscured in the shadow of her friend, guide and co-worker. Of course, she would not think so; but history seems to have no patience with self-effacement when it hides extraordinary accomplishments .
“Are we exaggerating? Are we moving to the opposite extreme and as a reaction are we attributing to Louise that which is proper to Vincent?
“In my opinion the Daughters of Charity were able to find the right path as they revised their Constitutions at the 2003 General Assembly. They had received some postulatum that proposed changing the name of the Company so that the role of Saint Louise would be reflected and thus would not be known simply as the Company of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul . The members of the Company understood that they were not dealing with the simple issue of replacing the name of Vincent de Paul with that of Louise de Marillac. Rather it was most important for the Company to recover the freshness and the vitality Louise’s insights. Everything else was secondary.
“Following the same line of thought I do not want to give the impression that I am proposing that the Vincentian Family should change its name so that there is some reference to Louise de Marillac.
“Again we are not dealing with a simple change of names but rather we are attempting to discover and reflect on the sources so that the Vincentian Family mirrors the experience of Louise de Marillac as a true founder.
“Jaime Corera  has used the wonderful expression of Saint Irenaeus who spoke about the two hands of the Father: Vincent and Louise are the two hands of the same charism that we are called to deepen, to enliven, and to express.
“Certainly the Daughters would be pleased to accept this proposal. But would the other members of the Vincentian Family also be willing to accept this? I am confident that this can be one of the fruits of the celebrations of the 350th anniversary of the death of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac, the two founders of the Vincentian Family.
“Allow me express my reflections in a simple manner and thus synthesize my contribution to this theme :
In outline here are his reflections.
- Louise de Marillac, a great treasure of the Vincentian Family
- 2 Louise de Marillac in the sources of Vincentian spirituality
- 3 Louise de Marillac’s spirituality is Vincentian spirituality
- 4 Integrating the spiritual experience of Louise de Marillac: a challenge for our Vincentian spirituality
- 4.1 The experience of being alone, totally committed to God and willing to do the will of God in everything
- 4.2 From the perspective of baptism, the experience of following Jesus Christ and identifying with his thoughts, words, attitudes and actions
- 4.3 The experience of Jesus crucified urges us to love those who are the least and all of those who are crucified in history
- 4.4 The experience of encountering Christ in the poor and of serving the poor as member of Jesus
- 4.5 The experience of being Church and living and thinking like Chruch and thus sharing the mission of the Church with the laity
- 4.6 The experience of prayer as a way of life
- 4.7 The experience of the Eucharist, a treasure and a heritage of Jesus, the Lord
- 4.8 The experience of the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit
- 4.9 The experience of the Virgin Mary as a teacher of the spiritual life and the only mother of the Company
- 4.10 The experience of the community that follows the Lord and serves him in the poor, thus building foundations of unity, civility and charity
- 5 Conclusion
(This article first appeared in Santa Luisa de Marillac, ayer y hoy, XXXIV Semana de Estudios Vicencianos, [Saint Vincent de Paul, Yesterday and Today, XXXIV Vincentian Studies Week], Editorial CEME, Santa Marta de Tormes, Salamanca, 2010)