Vincent de Paul: On the Edge of a Heart Attack

by | Nov 9, 2016 | Formation, Reflections

“The souls of poor persons have the image of God imprinted upon them, and therefore we’re bound to honor the Blessed Trinity in them.”

Vincent de Paul (CCD:VII:conference 10).



  1. A simple sentence but…what a sentence! A lucid thought but…what a lesson of theology! Maybe it would be enough to grant St. Vincent a doctorate “Honoris causa.” All by two seemingly contradictory expressions: “souls-them,” “God-Trinity.” Dialectic in its pure state. A fact that is constant in the thinking and acting of St. Vincent, or better, that takes him obsessively from one to the other and from the other to one so that it is incomprehensible to understand his person separating one from the other.
  2. The abstract “souls” is sufficiently nuanced with “of the poor” and the “they,” that is, the “poor,” are the people who are poor. What about the poor? Did the Parisian society not see them? Did its members do nothing for them? Were there no institutions that took care of them? Did there not exist Confraternities of Charity?… The answers are all positive: they were seen, they were attended to, there were public and private institutions… It is not there that the vision of St. Vincent is found, but in SEEing in them the image of God! …. This is the great novelty that brings to humanity this simple priest of the Landes. With this he placed the ecclesial and civil order in a comatose state … on the edge of a heart attack!
  3. In another reflection we showed the great devotion (personal and institutional) of St. Vincent for the Holy Trinity; in short: faith is based on the Trinity; the being of the missionary is based on the Trinity; the works that maintain the Vincentian institutions, or are based on the Trinity or are built on sand.
  4. This conception that may seem only “pure” philosophy or theology, is but one of the faces of the coin. On the other, the poor are placed and, therefore, he dares to say that “we have to honor in them the Most Holy Trinity.”

Questions for dialogue:

  1. How do we live this confrontation?
  2. Do both realities form a TOTALITY in our lives?
  3. Are our communities a mirror of this situation?
  4. Do our daily prayers include the reality of the nearest poor person?
  5. Do we have a personal relationship with a poor person as St. Vincent asked?

Mitxel Olabuenaga, C.M.
facebook icon Mitxel.OlabuenagaOrnes


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This