Dr. Michael Thio, President of the International Confederation of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul offered Vincentian reflections during press conference on Pope Benedict XVI’s Lenten Message for 2013.
We are honoured to have the opportunity to share with you the charism and ethos of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in bearing witness to Christ and which draws some parallel to the Holy Father’s Lenten message on his principal theme of Faith and Charity.
The Society is engaged in Charitable and Humanitarian activities in a Christian way or dimension and are marvelously witnessing to Christ in the poor and needy we serve or assist. We can encapsulate all such activities into the virtues and practice of the Gospel values in FAITH, HOPE and CHARITY. This exemplifies our zeal and commitment in our mission and vocation in our Vincentian apostolate.
Since our humble beginnings 180 years ago we are today present in 148 countries, with 780,000 members spread over 70,000 conferences, 1.3 million volunteers and serving over 30 million poor. The Society is involved in a wide range and variety of tasks and activities from the provision of food, clothing and necessities to the needy, homes for the poor and homeless, response to natural disasters in emergency reliefs and rehabilitation projects, assistance to refugees that emerged from political conflicts, engaged in systemic change programs in education, self-help projects, micro-financing, counselling and many others. Among many other assistance and projects for last year, special mention is made to emergency reliefs provided to over 20 countries affected by natural disasters along with rehabilitation projects, assistance in the Famine in the Horn of Africa, food and crops programs, provision for rebuilding, renovation and construction of houses and notably support for a project in the construction of an indoor playground of a kindergarten due to the Tsunami tragedy in Fukushima, Japan, that is subjected to nuclear radiation.
The Society have been accredited last year by the United Nations as an UN-NGO with membership in the Economic and Social Council(ECOSOC) with Special Consultative Status. We are blessed and privileged to note that the Society is one of the most respected, well known, flourishing and inspiring Catholic apostolate of Charity worldwide.
FAITH: We believe and we trust in the Lord for without Him we can do nothing. We serve and He provides. We do our best and He will do the rest. In serving the poor and needy we bear witness to Christ and those around us. As He said to us “He who abides in Me and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” – John 15:5. FAITH determines our belief in God and gives us our purpose and manifestation of the goodness and Love of God. It gives us the conviction that Jesus is the pearl of our life. FAITH sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible. In absolute FAITH we listen to His word “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and HE will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6
HOPE: In Christ resurrection He has given us HOPE … a new life, a new future. Likewise we share this HOPE with those we serve and assist and give them a hopeful life and the possibility of encountering Christ. Because we care they experience a new beginning, a better future. In seeing the suffering poor, we Vincentians, see and encounter the suffering Christ and give us the opportunity to serve Christ in the poor. In so doing we receive Christ in us and experience Christ’s Love and strengthen us to grow in that discipleship of Christ. HOPE gives us confidence and courage. It gives us a dynamism of unconquerable FAITH and strength. It is a glorious saviour always at our side. Remember the words of our Lord “Come to me all you that labour and are burdened, I shall give you rest.” The motto of the Society is Serviens in Spe – Service in Hope.
CHARITY: Charity gives us motivation and supernatural zeal. Christian Charity is our LOVE for God transformed into loving service given to others and especially the poor. GOD is LOVE. Unless you have God in your heart you cannot share that LOVE with others. “The LOVE of Christ impels us” – 2Cor 5:14. St. Vincent de Paul said “May your radiance of Charity be a beaming light in our FAITH in action.” This is further advanced by Blessed Frederic Ozanam who said “Let us go to the poor. We must not only speak but act and affirm by our actions the vitality of our FAITH.” “The least you do to my brothers, you did it to me” says the Lord in Matthew 25:40. By our loving Christian action in serving Christ in the poor and needy, we are witnessing to Christ and this is the key differentiator between a Christian Charity and a secular Charity. “Faith enables us to recognize the gifts that the good and generous God has entrusted to us, Charity makes them fruitful” as pronounced by the Holy Father in his Lenten message.
As we commit ourselves faithfully and lovingly to His call, we are engaging in the service of Christ in the poor and needy in FAITH, HOPE and CHARITY. In championing the cause of the poor, Christian actions and virtues are being promoted and we are but humble servants bearing witness to Christ. In our work of Christian Charity we reflect and radiate our Christian way of life as followers and disciples of Christ. As we grow in that discipleship of Christ, we become a better person and a better Christian. “You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world” as the Lord spoke to us in Matthew 5:13-14. The Holy Father said in his Lenten message “Through Faith we enter into a friendship with the Lord; through Charity this friendship is lived and cultivated”. The inter-relationship between Faith and Charity is manifested and edified and is intimately linked.
As Christians, we must preserve and grow in our spirituality to keep that Closeness, Love and Peace with Christ. The way we lead a good Christian life will draw people closer to God … and bring about conversion and evangelization through witnessing to the goodness and Love of Christ.
Let me share with you this inspiring quote of Blessed Mother Teresa:-
The Fruit of Silence is Prayer
The Fruit of Prayer is Faith
The Fruit of Faith is Love
The Fruit of Love is Service
The Fruit of Service is Peace
and furthermore she adds “What you are is God’s gift to you; What you make of yourself is your gift to God.”
LET us Dare to Encounter JESUS with Love and Conviction in our hearts.
LET us want TO LIVE … a fulfilling, loving, peaceful, Christian life align with the Gospel values.
LET us want to CONTEMPLATE … to meditate and discern
LET us want to SERVE … CHRIST and mankind.
“LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE BEFORE MEN THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS AND GIVE GLORY TO OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN” Matthew 5:16
JESUS LOVES YOU.
THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
[Original text: English]