I hope most of us have watched or heard about the 1948 Oscar Award winning Film, “Monsieur Vincent” directed by Maurice Cloche. It is an excellent and inspiring film, one that rewards repeated viewing. And no wonder, it is at the top of Vatican’s best films list. In this Vincentian Jubilee year, if possible it is good to watch it again to remind ourselves about our Vincentian charism.
Towards the end of the film there is a scene which shows Vincent as an old man, physically weak; but face and eyes were sparkling from an unseen power within him. He was sitting and speaking with the Queen of France who was also very old. The Queen says to Vincent, “you are doing too much.” But Vincent replies to her, “I am doing too little.” The queen says to him, “very few will have so much works to show on the judgment day.” In response Vincent tells her; “I have accomplished nothing” and he enumerates some of his failures like; “I did sleep too much, it was very late when I realized that one could live by sleeping four hours a day, I was coward often, I gave in, I closed my eyes so that I would not see the misery etc..”
Then the queen who knew the tremendous amount works Vincent did within his short span of life asks him surprisingly; “what’s one supposed to do in life then to accomplish something?”
Vincent’s face sparkled and he replied in a word, “do More.”
Vincent was never satisfied with minimum. He was totally against mediocracy. What motivated St. Vincent to have this attitude of “doing more and more?” The answer we can get from the following two scriptural verses which Vincent took as the motto of Congregation of Mission and Daughters of Charity.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk 4:18-19).
“Love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cori 5:14)
St. Vincent was fully convinced about his call and missionary sending. Vincent de Paul returns to this theme again and again. In his conference, on “The End of the Congregation” (December 6, 1658), he states: “. . . to make God known to the poor, to announce Jesus Christ to them, to tell them that the kingdom of heaven is at hand and that it is for the poor. Oh how great that is … so sublime is it to preach the gospel to the poor that it is above all the office of the Son of God.”
When we read the words of St. Vincent in his letters and conferences, we realize his personal conviction and experience of God’s love revealed in Jesus. He wanted to share this Love of God, which he had experienced personally, to as many as people possible. It is this conviction of his call to continue to the mission of Jesus, to witness God’s love by preaching and works of mercy, which motivated Vincent even in his old age to do more and more for the salvation of the poor.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.