This is the sixth of a series of formation packages meant for individual or group study which was introduced in “The Contributions of the Vincentian Charism to the Mission of the Church: A Formation Journey.” In that article, we also suggested a “Lesson Plan” for use in groups.
Claude Dufour seems to have been an austere early confrere who felt that he should join the Carthusians. St. Vincent wrote him the following strong word: “Alas! the Church has enough solitaries.”
In his time “solitaries” were people leading a solitary life, recluses, loners and according to Vincent, what the Church needed were missionaries who would be ready
“… to go and proclaim Jesus Christ to the poor people, and work at training priests.” (CCD:III:204-205).
Claude Dufour decided to stay.
Father Delgado writes,
“Workers,” “apostolic men,” are the words that Vincent used when referring to those who were privileged to be called in order to cooperate in extending the Church elsewhere (CCD:III:41), in order to go, not just to one parish, not just to one diocese, but all over the world (CCD:XII:215).
Fast forward to Frederic Ozanam telling his brother, a priest no less, to get out of his rectory and go to the “outskirts”…
“The priests must give up their little bourgeois parishes: their flocks are an elite in the midst of a vast population that they do not know…. You are not carrying out your true mission. If a larger number of Christians and especially clergymen had looked after the workers in the last ten years we would be more certain of the future.”
“Ah! My dear friend, what a trouble, but what an instructive time it is, through which we are passing! We may perish, but we must not regret having lived in it. Let us learn from it. Let us learn, first of all, to defend our belief without hating our adversaries, to appreciate those who do not think as we do, to recognize that there are Christians in every camp, and that God can be served now as always! Let us complain less of our times and more of ourselves. Let us not be discouraged, let us be better” (Letter of Frederic Ozanam to Alphonse Ozanam, March 6, 1848. Cf. Louis Baunard, Ozanam in his Letters, Benziger Brothers, New York, 1925, p. 304).
Those steeped in this tradition resonate when Francis today speaks of “the smell of the sheep.”
“The priest who seldom goes out of himself … misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. … This is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become in a sense collectors of antiquities or novelties — instead of being shepherds living with ‘the smell of the sheep.’ This is what I am asking you — be shepherds with the smell of sheep.” —Pope Francis’ address to the world’s priests at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, March 28.
Delgado notes this same aspect of the charism in the Daughters of Charity.
- When was the last time I thought of going on mission outside my comfort zone?
- What elements of safety might I be holding onto?
See you next week!
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