Who said…?

by | Jan 13, 2018 | Formation

Here is a quote that woke me up… not so much for what it said but who said it … and when.

“True charity, in our century, consists less in giving relief than in understanding and sustaining the effort for liberation which is agitating the classes and the minority groups.”

Who do you think said it? Pope Francis? Maybe St. Vincent? When were these words uttered? Within the past month? Year? If you chose these answers you would be wrong.

These words were said 50 years ago by Mother Suzanne Guillemin, D.C. Mother General of the Daughters of Charity during the time of Vatican II. She was a woman ahead of her time and respected in her time. For more about her pioneering yet truly traditional views visit MOTHER SUZANNE GUILLEMIN AND THE VATICAN II “REVOLUTION”.

Vincent and Louise

Here is another quote from Mother Guillemin.

“We imagine we know them (St. Vincent and St. Louise) because we have read their lives perhaps every year, but we still do not know them in the depths of their souls — and we must admit that those depths are truly magnificent.”

They lived the “integral evangelization” approach well before the phrase became part of the body of doctrine known as the social doctrine of the church. They deeply understood the ecclesiology of the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me.”

It was not so much that Vincent and Louise saw into the future. Rather, they were fully immersed in the present – as are all mystics and prophets. They stood in the eternal now… and acted accordingly.

They woke up the world of their day to the dignity of each human being deserving of dignity rather than pity.  And they were not afraid to hold others and themselves accountable even in how they administered their own institutions.

Seeing the image of God in each poor person they were able to find God in the margins of society and even in the details of administration and fund-raising.
They instinctively lived Pope Francis’ call to solidarity understood as a “mindset of encounter.”

Although the words “integral evangelization” would have sounded strange to them, their pastoral ministry embodied its deepest meaning.
They used the language of the 17th century, But they foreshadowed the teaching of recent Popes.

St. Vincent told the Daughters  “And that was the beginning of your Company.  As it was not then what it is now, there is reason to believe that it is still not what it will be when God has perfected it as he wants it.” Certainly, words that apply to the Vincentian Family today.

Holding ourselves accountable

  • What am I (we) doing to wake myself up to the dignity of each and every human being?
  • What am I (we) doing to show respect for each and every human being no matter where they come from or how unattractive to me?
  • What am I (we) doing to wake up the world to the fundamental dignity of each person?
  • How do I hold myself accountable by the standards of Matthew 25 “Whatsoever you do for the least…”