Generosity, A Vincentian Virtue • A Weekly Reflection with Louise

by | May 5, 2017 | Formation, Reflections

“I will truly desire [your heart] once it returns to God and demonstrates to Him that it only wants what He wants and when it examines the future in order to carry out acts of valor and generosity.” (LDM, l. 152).
“You are generous enough to bear this burden and to help our sisters to look upon it as the yoke of Our Lord.” (LDM, l. 549).
“If you had not so often been employed in very arduous work, I would encourage you to be generous.” (LDM, l. 575).
“Blessed be God for everything! May He grant the Company the strength and generosity to maintain within itself the primitive spirit that Jesus instilled in it through His Spirit and by His holy maxims. Let us often give ourselves to God so as to obtain from His goodness the generosity needed to advance His glory by fulfilling His designs on the Company.” (LDM, l. 651).

Louise de Marillac, some sentences of St. Louise de Marillac of the many found in her letters and writings.



  1. Generosity is a Vincentian virtue par excellence, since it is needed it to work as a team and in favor of the poor. And, if generosity is giving the person to the team and to the poor, or sharing our own without expecting reward, Jesus is the model of it in giving his person and his life to the good of all men, good and bad. Likewise, a male or female Vincentian should be a model of generosity, who gives his/her life and his/her person for the poor.
  2. Generosity is inferior to love. Although you can not love without being generous, you can be generous without loving. To give to the loved one is within the reach of all; what really costs is to be generous to those you do not love. But even with these it is mandatory. “Generosity is only necessary to us when love is lacking, so it is almost always necessary for us” (Comte-Sponville).
  3. If there is an obligation to love one’s neighbor as oneself, “as one’s self” must also be the model of generosity. Love and generosity with oneself becomes obligatory to know how much, when and how to love and share. Love is the goal we must reach and generosity is the first step. Thus we can understand that, if generosity does not equate love, love often produces it. And since, if we loved, we would be generous, it seems that we have invented generosity to supply the lack of love. And we conclude that when we lack love, at least generosity guides us.
  4. No one can decide to love this or that, because love is blind. On the contrary, generosity does depend on oneself, and it is in our hands to educate ourselves to be generous.
  5. To be generous implies in the Vincentian to be liberated from oneself, from small cowardies and small possessions for better sharing, and if he/she dies in the effort, he/she has overcome death, for he/she dies for usefulness, resembling Jesus Christ. Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac and Frederic Ozanam were useful to humanity, because they fought generously for the good of the poor. The useful life is not the longest or the most comfortable life, but the most generous in the good of the needy.

Questions for dialogue:

  1. Why do you love family members and members of your branch of the Vincentian Family, but less than those of other institutions?
  2. Why do we call the poor we serve “our poor” and maybe not to others in more need?
  3. Are you generous and sacrifice many personal and family interests to attend meetings?
  4. If we loved the needy as ourselves, would we deny help?

Benito Martínez, C.M.