This is the third of a series of formation packages meant for individual or group study based upon “The Prophetic Dimension of the Vincentian Charism in light of the Social Doctrine of the Church” by Sr. María Pilar López.
This section is the longest of the article. It is foundational but in a way that is different from the previous section.
Where to begin? There are so many powerful quotes from our rich Vincentian heritage.
“Saint Vincent affirmed that we must serve all people and serve the whole person. The separation between the spiritual and corporal needs of the person seems to have created problems during the seventeenth century.”
Sister Pilar offers us many examples of how Vincent addressed the problems in his age.
Today, the words are different but the battles are still going on over what is called today “integral evangelization,” sometimes even at the highest levels in Rome.
Sister Pilar writes:
“Three centuries later and with different words the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church speaks about integral salvation, salvation of the whole person, something that for us, the sons and daughters of Vincent de Paul, should not be new: The social doctrine has its own profound unity, which flows from Faith in a whole and complete salvation, from Hope in a fullness of justice, and from Love which makes all mankind truly brothers and sisters in Christ (Compendium, p.2:#3).”
“For Vincent de Paul the experience of God was mediated through his encounters with the poor. Benedict XVI, in the paragraph in which he makes reference to Saint Vincent, expresses the same principle: Love of God and love of neighbor have become one: in the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God (Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est, #15).”
For Sister, it is clear Vincent lived his understanding of Matthew 25 even when it meant taking on the culture of his times.
She poignantly reminds us that in Vincent’s time women were seen as second class citizens and this applied to their social status as well as their position within the Church.
Vincent confronted the traditions of his time and opened new paths and yet also understood the consequences of all of this as he placed women in the midst of social and religious life in his foundation of the Confraternities of Charity and the Daughters of Charity.
She concludes Saint Vincent is (a) teaching us to simply following the example of Jesus Christ as described to us by John Paul II and (b) when we are dealing with doing something that will be beneficial for the poor we should not hesitate to act in a counter cultural manner when necessary.
Today there is need for the followers of Vincent’s prophetic commitment to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25.
- Do we believe in integral evangelization of both body and soul?
- How do we balance the corporal and spiritual works of mercy?
- Are we willing to act in a counter cultural manner?
See you next week!
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