Saint Vincent de Paul and the Eucharist

by | Mar 20, 2023 | Formation, Spirituality and Spiritual Practice

Love is Inventive to Infinity

 St. Vincent’s famous saying that “love is inventive to infinity” was his explanation of the Eucharist in his “Exhortation to a Dying Brother” in 16471. Read and meditate on his words:

Furthermore, since love is inventive to infinity, after being affixed to the infamous stake of the cross to win the hearts and souls of those by whom He wishes to be loved . foreseeing that His absence could cause some forgetfulness or cooling off in our hearts. He wanted to avoid this danger by instituting the Most August Sacrament, in which He is as truly and substantially present as He is in heaven above. Furthermore, however, seeing that, if He wanted to humble and empty himself even more than He had done in His Incarnation and could make himself in some way more like us – or at least make us more like Him – He caused this venerable Sacrament to serve us as food and drink, intending by this means that the same union and resemblance that exist between nature and substance should occur spiritually in each human person. Because love can do and will everything, He willed it thus; and for fear that, if people didn’t understand this incredible mystery and scheme of love, they might neglect to approach this Sacrament, He has obliged them to do so under pain of incurring His eternal displeasure. Nisi manducaveritis carnem Filii hominis, non habebitis vitam.2

From this you see how, by every means imaginable, He has striven to win us over to love Him and, with this in view, you must stir up your heart to pay this just and pleasant tribute to love of a God who has been the object of all His plans for you and for which to obtain it He did all that He has done for you. You must believe that the greatest present you could offer Him is your heart; He asks nothing else of you: Fili, praebe mihi cor tuum.3

Christ put on the cloak of humanity for his 33 years on earth, being present to us physically, and constantly reminding us that He had come to serve and not to be served. In the Eucharist, He remains physically present, and humbles Himself even further by serving as our food and drink.

And all he asks in return is our hearts.


In partaking of the Eucharist, do I sincerely and fully offer my heart in return?

1 de Paul, Vincent and Coste, Pierre C.M., “Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, Volume XI. Conferences to the Congregation of the Mission vol. 1” (2008). Vincentian Digital Books. 37., p. 129

2 Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you will not have life. Cf. Jn 6:53. (NAB)

3 Son, give me your heart. Cf. Prv 23:26. (NAB)