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Defending our Beliefs and Loving our Adversaries • A Weekly Reflection with Ozanam

by | Aug 21, 2017 | Formation, Reflections

Let us learn, above all, to defend our convictions without hating our adversaries, to love those who think differently than we do, to recognize that there are Christians in all fields, and that God can be served today as always. Let us complain less of our time and more of ourselves; let us be less discouraged, but let us be better.

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Frederic Ozanam, Letter to Alexandre Dufieux, April 9,  1851.

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Reflection:

  1. A short text but with a lot of substance…. It talks about the capacity for dialogue, the love for “enemies”, the defense of the faith and how to carry it out; but also of the different sensitivities and visions that may exist within the Church itself, and the need of understanding and love of each other.
  2. In this letter, Frederic speaks to his friend Alexander of the dissensions that were then living in the Church. Some wanted to see in France a powerful Church and close to the circles of power. Others, like Ozanam and Lacordaire, proclaimed “Blessed are the poor” and called for a more forceful involvement with the disinherited ones of the earth.
  3. In our time we can also see these differences of criteria. We Vincentians have a different view from other sensibilities. Frederic urges us to fulfill the mission entrusted to us, with simplicity and humility, with charity and zeal, as Saint Vincent de Paul also asks us in his writings. And all with love, bearing in mind that what is important is to serve God and fulfill his mandate to build the Kingdom, which for us is the Kingdom of the poor: “whoever wants to be first, let him be the last” (Mk 9:35); because of the poor, and of those who serve Him, the Kingdom of God is realized (Mt 25).
  4. We are not here to judge God’s plan, but to build it, following the personal call he has made to each of us. If we have been called to serve God in the person of the poor, let us do so wholeheartedly and with the utmost excellence. Only in this way we will be fulfilling in our lives the mandate (vocation) we have received from Jesus Christ, following the example of the great Christians of our spiritual family: Vincent, Louise, Frederic and many others who spent their lives at the service of the Gospel.

Questions for dialogue:

  1. What feelings do these words of Ozanam provoke in me?
  2. Am I firm in my convictions, while respecting those of others?
  3. How am I fulfilling today the vocation to which I have been called, to serve the impoverished? How can I improve?

Javier F. Chento
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