This is the fourth 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.
There is dynamite in this section! If the previous three sections were foundational, this section is challenging especially for those of us who have been more involved in hands on direct service.
It starts with a somewhat theoretical statement.
“Another characteristic trait of the spirit that Vincent has passed on to us is that besides seeing the poor as persons who have their own proper dignity and rights, we also owe these people justice and not pity.” She quotes Vincent “the obligations of justice have priority over those of charity (CCD:VII:633)”
But in words that echo Pope Francis urging us to “wake up the world” she continues: “When he established the Confraternities, the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity he did this to make the priests and the laity aware of the fact that they love God or betray God in persons who are poor.”
She points out how “his thinking and way of acting conflicted with that which was believed and lived by “respectable” men and women.” Saint Vincent intervened directly and indirectly in politics.
While his personal vocation was that of evangelizing the poor, in an attempt to be faithful to his vocation he intervened in order to obtain the well-being of poor men and women who were condemned and dying of hunger.
What was unheard of during the time of Saint Vincent, has today become part of the magisterium of the Church.
Silence, when confronted with an unjust situation, supposes that one tolerates and allows said injustice to continue. It is thus a passive way of participating in an injustice.
But Vincent not only looked outward. He looked inward. So she writes:
“In Saint Vincent’s writing Vincent’s sense of justice led him to protect the welfare of those employed by the Congregation, something that was unheard of at that time.
Three centuries before social security came into existence Vincent wrote to one of the superiors of the Congregation: If you can pay your servant’s wages for the four months during which he was ill, as well as the expenses of his doctor and medicines, I think that will be a good idea, since he is a poor man and a good servant (CCD:VI:97). “
- How often do we think of our “obligations’” to those who are poor?
- Why do some think it is not Vincentian to become involved in speaking out publicly?
- Are we aware of our obligations to those we employ?
See you next week!
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