There are some great insights into St. Vincent de Paul and Mother Teresa in Saint Vincent de Paul and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta – Two Saints for Our Time found on our partner site “We are Vincentians” (vincentians.com). More insights can be had by reflecting on our founders, and on the current emphases of Pope Francis.
First, what did Mother Teresa, Pope Francis and Sts. Vincent and Louise have in common?
During her lifetime, Mother Teresa was consistently one of the most admired humans walking our Earth. She was named 18 times in the yearly Gallup’s most admired man and woman poll as one of the 10 women around the world who Americans admired most, finishing first several times in the 1980s and 1990s. That has continued since her death in 1997.
Pope Francis is well on his way to achieve similar notoriety.
Vincentians are well aware of how Vincent was described at his funeral as having changed the face of France and its awareness of those on the margins.
So as I read the following insights of Cindy Wooden (Catholic News Service) I could not help also think of Vincent de Paul.
“If there is one person who immersed herself in the “peripheries” Pope Francis is drawn to, it was Blessed Teresa of Kolkata.
If there was one who showed courage and creativity in bringing God’s mercy to the world, like Pope Francis urges, it was the diminutive founder of the Missionaries of Charity.”
Vincent and Louise also continue to urge us to live mercy at the peripheries.
Pope Francis and Mother Teresa drew energy from personal, one-on-one contact with people and consciously chose to live as simply as the poor she befriended and tended. So did Vincent and Louise.
But, and this is the key point, it is not just about “going out,” as Valeria Martano, Asia coordinator for the Community of Sant’Egidio, said. For both Pope Francis and Mother Teresa everything starts with prayer. So too with Vincent.
I must admit that we who walk in the footsteps of their journey to the peripheries can forget that it begins in the prayer that opens our eyes to the fact that we, many though we are, are one bread and one body.
We stand in a long tradition of contemplatives in action. Is it any wonder that Fr Tomas Mavric, in his first words after being elected the 24th successor of Vincent reminds us of our call to be “mystics of charity.”