Boldness of Charity – What does it mean?

by | Jul 5, 2014 | Daughters of Charity, Vincentian Family

dc-featured-newsAt this time the Company of the Daughters of Charity is preparing for their General Assembly 2015 whose theme is: The boldness of charity for a new missionary momentum.

So begins a commentary on the theme. It seems worthy of this week’s installment of “Saturday Study Hall” based on articles from the Vincentian Encyclopedia.

Although written specifically about the theme of the upcoming General Assembly of the Daughters of Charity, this offering in the series Saturday Study Hall  offers much food for thought for all the followers of Vincent and Louise.

Some excerpts…

Naturally that theme, like any other theme, is offered and received from a determined context and the context is fundamental in order to interpret it correctly. Aware of the fact that a text without a con-text is a pre-text, we begin, then, by analyzing the indicated context. In the second part of this reflection we will analyze the individual words of this theme.

Charity fills us with boldness

Boldness is the strength of will that allows people to carry out a project despite the obstacles. It is a word that suggests valor, risk, strength…

When obstacles appear, people often become faint-hearted and abandon their plans out of fear of failure. On the other hand, bold individuals overcome their fear and persevere in the activity that they set out to accomplish

Boldness is necessary not only to rise above physical dangers but also to confront social coercion. This last reality of social coercion deserves to be highlighted because we all experience this fear of being “distinct” that is described so eloquently by Eric Fromm. [17]

It is very important that we never separate boldness from charity because boldness can be either good or bad depending on whom we intend to serve (for example, a bold thief can be more dangerous than a timid thief). Furthermore, true charity implies zeal and is, therefore, the source of boldness. That is the same as saying that our degree of boldness reveals the intensity of our charity.

Some might object because they believe that very often bold people involve themselves and others in very difficult situations. Should we not be prudent? Yes, we should but not in accord with the world’s prudence but rather in accord with God’s prudence.

True prudence should never mean abstention from doing that which ought to be done because said virtue disposes to that which is best: for the best is the end. [18] To use the words that Saint Augustine so beautifully wrote: prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it. [19] Boldness stands in opposition to worldly prudence but is in perfect harmony with God’s prudence.


The mission that we have been talking about is not a mission in which the Daughters of Charity are protagonists and everyone else is a “walk-on”, a type of anonymous chorus that never has an important role to play. Rather we are dealing with a shared mission. It is not “the mission of the Daughters of Charity” but rather the mission of Christ that is shared by all Christians.

We recall here the famous words of Mother Guillemin: Religious[32] today are obliged to move

• from a situation of possession to a posture of insertion;

• from a position of authority to a position of collaboration;

•from a position of religious superiority to a sense of communion;

• from a position of human inferiority to an honest participation in life; • from a position of concern for moral conversion to a missionary concern. [33]


These are the reflections of a theologian on the theme of the next General Assembly. The ideas that emerge from the local and provincial assemblies will be more important; they will be the things that cannot be discovered by reading books but only “by thinking with the feet” [34] … in other words, walking (always allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our steps).

To love one’s neighbor at all times and in every place demands things that were not necessary in previous eras. Therefore, it is not as if one had but to open the gospel to read, in all clarity and simplicity, what love of neighbor and the disposition for a communion of brothers and sisters has as its task today … the truth of the matter, however, is that tasks and demands of love of neighbor are making themselves known today that no pastoral letter of a hundred years ago ever mentioned, and yet are as pressing today as the ancient injunctions against stealing one’s neighbor’s property [35]

Given the fact that Mother Guillemin spoke those words in 1964 it is clear that she did not see the shared mission as a demand that flowed from the lack of Sisters, but rather as a demand of the gospel.

Questions for reflection…

What does “boldness” require of you?

What “Movements” are you being called to?


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