The newly elected Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, is fond of the image of St. Vincent de Paul as a mystic of charity.
A regular contributor to famvin.org, Fr. Thomas McKenna, C.M., has written,
Authors write about Vincent’s mystical inspiration; i.e., the shape of his lived contact with God. Toscani uses the expression “mystique of the poor” to drive home the point. Vincent sees the Father, Jesus, the poor, and his own self all caught up together in God’s loving of humanity. He grasped and was grasped by the pure generosity that is sending the Word to the poor, the Sending to which Jesus gives flesh. The fuel for Vincent’s engine is provided by just this experience of God. His motivation is fed by this very lived contact with the divine.
Writing about the saints, Hans Von Balthasar touches on this very point. He contends that the most important thing about these holy people is not their heroic, personal accomplishments, but their firm obedience (or listening), together with a total commitment to their mission. He moves on to identify this interplay of listening and commitment as the essential ingredients of what many would recognize as contemplation. It is in this contemplative stance that the saints experience what Von Balthasar tellingly terms “a great commissioning,” a growing urge to go out from God to the world. Is this not indeed the case with Vincent? Does he not experience, in Jesus, just that “great commissioning?” In addition to that is the direction in which missioning moves — toward the poor people of the world, trying to be God’s love for them, yet at the same time finding in them God’s love.
Read his reflections here, as we begin to “think with” the new successor of St. Vincent. #IamaMystic.
I have always believed that vincent’s brand of mysticism is a very demanding albeit fulfilling kind of mysticism. Vincent draws us not to himself but to the poor and there experience a mystical-missional thrust of God’s presence in the world. An authentic mission experince is at once a mystical immersion in the living God.