Purpose and Spirit of the Congregation of the Mission • A Weekly Reflection with Louise

by | Jan 27, 2017 | Formation, Reflections

“That the principal end of the Association be knowledge of oneself and contempt for the things of the world, practiced by the resolution to serve the Parishes, in submission and obedience to the Pastors, while renouncing all benefices and honors. In the design of serving the Church, it shall have a knowledge of God, recognizing Him as sovereignly worthy of being fittingly honored. To this end, each one in particular shall give himself entirely to work for the salvation of souls insofar as he can hope to do so by the love of God. This work will be greatly advanced by their example and their instructions on the duties of a Christian as well as by the grace of the sacraments worthily administered in the Church. This will happen and the glory of God will be greater when the only priests are good priests.

Moreover, they shall honor the Blessed Trinity by great union among themselves. This union shall be neither constrained nor forced but always maintained by gentle necessity which cordialiry transforms into mutual affection. By a communication of the Holy Spirit, they shall enter into a holy relationship with the Son of God who, by personally detaching Himself, as it were, from His Father, willed to take our flesh for the salvation of the human race. Likewise, they shall be completely detached from anything that could prevent them from working toward this same end, for the glory of God.”

Louise de Marillac, On the end of the Congregation of the Mission (A.38).



  1. At the end of 1630, parish priests in Paris saw how well-prepared priests —who sincerely lived their priesthood— entered the Congregation of the Mission, and feared that these priests would take over the best positions. Therefore, they asked the Court not to approve the Congregation of the Mission, if beforehand they did not renounce all positions in parishes and city churches, and they work, as they promised, in the spiritual instruction of the poor of the countryside, without being able to enter any church by by express order of the bishop, with permission of the parish priest, and without claiming any remuneration, forcing them to preach, confess or catechize freely.
  2. This is what Saint Louise sets out in the previous consideration. But to the purpose to give missions only to the poor, who were then the peasants, and to form good priests, she adds the spirit with which they live and mission: mortification, detaching themselves from all things in the world; meekness, for in their life and in their preaching there is no hint of revenge; humility, recognizing that God is the all and they are nothing; simplicity, giving good example, living what they preach; and charity, manifested by the great union between them through cordiality.
  3. They are the virtues, Christian and civic, necessary to live today in society: mortification, sharing what is ours with the poor; meekness or respect for the ideas and lives of others; humility, not wanting to impose on others; simplicity that today is called authenticity without deceiving; charity manifested by cordiality.
  4. The poor, indeed, are today in the few villages that still live in isolation, since society has moved to the big cities, but also in the suburbs and in certain areas of cities occupied by national and foreign immigrants.

Questions for dialogue:

  1. In what places do the branches of the Vincentian Family work today? Where do you think the poor are today? Can and should the Vincentians go to those poor and those places?
  2. Do you believe that the virtues of sharing, respecting, accepting and listening, authenticity and cordiality are contemporary? And accepted by the people? And necessary to live together and evangelize?

Benito Martínez, C.M.


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