The Daughters of Charity were chosen to give spiritual manna, the spirit of God, to the poor. Where do they receive him in order later to communicate him? In Holy Communion, my daughters … let us draw near to this fire to be first of all enkindled ourselves and then, by our charity and good example, to draw others toward it.”
– On Holy Communion. January 22, 1646, Conferences of St. Vincent De Paul to the Daughters of Charity.
Try to picture this Conference of St. Vincent with the Daughters of Charity, on a January day like today, almost 371 years ago. St. Vincent delivered these conferences to comment on the early rules governing the lives and activities of the first Daughters.
Now watch as some present-day Daughters of Charity share some personal thoughts about the Eucharist:
from Love is Creative Even to Infinity: On the Eucharist in the Vincentian Tradition by Fr. Robert Maloney, C.M.
It is food 1 and medicine,2 a school of love and a source of peace.
Vincent frequently uses the word “nourishment”3 when he speaks of the Eucharist. Just as bread and wine nourish the body, so too do the consecrated gifts nourish the soul.
The Eucharist too for Vincent is an antidote, a medicine, a remedy4 for our spiritual weakness. He also describes the Eucharist as a source of pardon for sinners.5 Vincent states that the Eucharist is the “most efficacious remedy” against spiritual ills.6
He tells the Daughters that they must go to the Eucharist to study “love, mutual support, cordiality.”7 At the school of the Eucharist they will learn all the virtues that are necessary to help the poor.
Speaking of the Eucharist, St. Vincent tells the Daughters of Charity: “What a grace, my daughters! to be certain that we are regarded by God, considered by God, loved by God.”8
The Eucharist will be, he also tells the Daughters, a source of peace and tranquility of heart for them. It will give them confidence that they are truly united with God.9 On the contrary, Vincent often warns against receiving Communion when the sisters live in discord,10 citing Matthew 5:23-24: “If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother or sister has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first to be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”
1SV VIII, 34 2SV III, 371; XIII, 32 3SV VIII, 34 4SV III, 371 5SV III, 371 6SV IX, 298 7SV IX, 298 8SV IX, 333 9SV IX, 237 10SV IX, 101