The Christ of St. Vincent

by | Sep 18, 2020 | Formation

Christ is at the centre of the life, the thinking, and the actions of St. Vincent.

This is not unique. It could be said of many saints or canonised Christians. What is specific about St. Vincent and of the Vincentian identity is the way St. Vincent approaches Jesus Christ, the angle from which he sees and contemplates Jesus Christ. Let us listen to him:

“If Our Lord is asked what did you come on earth to do? To assist the poor… anything else? To assist the poor” and to quote Lk 4:13-18, that is to say the first homily of Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth on a Sabbath day. He is given the book of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolls the book, finds the passage where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has consecrated me: he has sent me to bring the Good News to the Poor” and he continues the quotation: the lame walk, etc., and rolling up the scroll, Christ concludes: “This text is being fulfilled today even as you are listening” (which is the proper definition of a homily).

The Christ of St. Vincent is the Christ of Luke. He is the Christ who evangelises the poor. When St. Vincent says “assist” and uses the word “charity” he is not speaking in 19th or 20th century language with its whiff of paternalism or materialism: in the 17th century “assistance” implied an active presence. For St. Vincent it meant a concern to see that the Good News should come to the poor not just through words but through deeds.

– quote from The Mission and Vocation of the Priest According to St. Vincent de Paul by Raymond Facelina C.M., Province of Paris

In the Slideshare presentation below (shared by Fr. Bruce Krause, C.M.), it becomes clear that to St. Vincent, the imitation of Christ is not a theory but a way of life.


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