Every month, on the 23rd, SSVP members are urged to fast until his canonization reaches a successful conclusion.
On April 23rd, we commemorate two key dates for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul: the birth of Bl. Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam (1813) and the founding of the first “Conference of Charity” (1833). Hence, it’s a very special day for all of us, fellow members, especially in times of pandemic.
To mark these dates, the Council General International (CGI) is launching a Spiritual Campaign for the canonisation of Frédéric Ozanam. As suggested by our President General, fellow member Renato Lima de Oliveira, this campaign is about all SSVP members fasting on the 23rd of each month, in honour of Frédéric Ozanam’s canonization (“fasting” as set out by the precepts of the Catholic Church, discreetly and as is customary in each region).
“Fasting, prayer and charity help us in the process of conversion. Hence, while praying to God for Frédéric Ozanam, we are also purifying ourselves. Fasting should be offered to God, praying for Ozanam’s prompt canonisation. This is the noble purpose suggested by the President General.”, explained Father Andrés Motto, CGI’s spiritual advisor.
But why was the 23rd of each month set as the fasting date? 23 is a significant number in the Vincentian life. Ozanam was born on April 23rd, 1813. He was married on June 23rd, 1841. He founded with his colleagues the Conference of Charity on April 23rd, 1833. He drew up his will on April 23rd, 1853. He used to give his beloved wife a bouquet of flowers on the 23rd of each month. In other words, 23 is a symbolic number in each fellow member’s life.
There are many examples about fasting in the Holy Scriptures. “God spared Nineveh from destruction, since the Ninevites proclaimed a fast (Jonah 3: 5). Esther asked all the Jews to fast, so that God would spare them from the genocide of Persians (Esther 4: 16). Jesus told the disciples that demons do not go out except by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17: 21). Jesus himself was tempted by the devil for forty days and nights in the desert. He ate nothing at all during that time. (Luke 4:2).
“Fasting is a very powerful spiritual tool. Hence, everyone is invited to join in this Spiritual Campaign, on the 23rd of each month, until the Holy Church officially proclaims Ozanam’s canonization, which will certainly come up soon. Let’s pray,” said our President Renato Lima.