Celebrating Easter in the spirit of the Vincentian Charism

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Formation

St. Vincent used to celebrate his Easter by living according to the rules of Christianity. And he asked his missionaries to do the same, recommending that their actions and works should always be permeated by the spirit of God.

For a Catholic Christian, Easter is the most eagerly awaited day of the Liturgical Year. It is the day on which Christ has conquered death and made us co-heirs to eternal life [1]. It is the feast of feasts: ancient, profound and solemn. It is the feast of the new creation. Jesus is risen and will not die again. Thus, he bore humankind into God himself, opening a new dimension for us. The whole of creation has become greater and broader [2]. This renewal makes Easter the objective and the starting point for all; both the centre of history and its key.

Thus, Easter “makes life possible. It makes encounter possible. It makes communication possible. It makes knowledge, access to reality and to truth, possible. And insofar as it makes knowledge possible, it makes freedom and progress possible.” [3] With Easter, evil is hidden [3] and “the integrity of life is restored to us in Christ.” [4]. Our lives are now definitively open to God’s world, for they have acquired a taste of eternity and a sense of rescue and the joy of salvation. In fact, Easter is the day that brings a new rhythm, a new style and commitment [5]. Therefore, Easter is a day on which we can celebrate based on the Vincentian charism.

Now, how can we celebrate Easter in the spirit of the Vincentian charism? In my opinion, we can celebrate it by doing Easter, since, according to Tradition, “Easter” means passage. St. Augustine would say, Easter is the passage from this passing world to the world of God that remains. Certainly, in order to “do Easter” it is obligatory to take a step. For example, we can begin by taking a step from ignorance to knowledge of the Word of God that announces, proclaims and tells us that Easter is happening today. Such knowledge leads us to a new way of life that makes us overcome obsolete patterns and break the bonds that prevent us from being our best selves.

For St. Vincent de Paul, acquiring a new way of life means putting on the spirit of Christ. To clothe oneself with Christ means, according to him, “we have to work at imitating the perfection of Jesus Christ and to strive to attain it.” (CCD 12:93). For this reason, he always preached to his missionaries about the need to imitate Jesus Christ in his perfection, being good in every way, as our heavenly Father is good (cf. Mt 5:48). Goodness which, according to him, must materialise in the service of the poorest of the poor, namely abandoned children, prisoners, the marginalised, the elderly, the sick and immigrants.

St. Vincent used to celebrate Easter, living according to the rules of Christianity. And he asked his missionaries to do the same, recommending that their actions and works should always be diffused by the spirit of God (cf. CCD 12:93) and that their lives should be emptied of self in order to fill them with the spirit of Christ. He asked them that everything they did should be as if it were done by Jesus, the one who spent his whole life doing divine works for the good of all (cf. CCD 11:310-311). To celebrate Easter in this sense would mean doing good for others, especially the most vulnerable. Consequently, there is no true Easter celebration without real commitment.

So, as a Vincentian, your Easter will be genuine if you are able to find time to come to the bedside of the sick, who are sweating and suffering, and to accompany the lonely or forgetful elderly person. Your Easter will be genuine if you know how to caress and clean the face marred by pain and marginalisation, and if you take care to wipe away its tears. Your Easter will be evident if, when you hear of a person or family who is having a hard time, you anonymously and quietly take care of their needs, pay some of their bills, lend them a hand in any way you can, and talk to someone to alleviate their situation, even if no one thanks you for it. Your Easter will be authentic, if you are indeed able to recognise your own faults and ask for forgiveness, and if, despite looking at the stained face of the Church, its errors and scandals, its inconsistencies and sins, you are still able to recognise in it the face of the risen Christ and adore him with joy.

You truly celebrate Easter when you completely submit your intelligence and your will to God. That is, you assent, with your whole being, to what God reveals and to all the truth that He has revealed through the Risen One, admitting that such faith in the Risen One brings inner, outer and transcendent fruits that are of blessing and consolidation for you. Also when you admit that faith in Him enables you to make your own the principles that truly bring you inner unity, strengthening, and consistency. You achieve this, moreover, when you determine which part of your life might be moving away from God, knowing that everything has a direction towards Him, recognising that only in Him does life find true unity, and that everything ultimately comes to Him.

Through this understanding of faith you become a principled Vincentian; a Vincentian who knows why he is what he is and who knows where he stands. A Vincentian who knows that his faith has to do with his way of being, acting and living and who has a spirit formed in faith. A spirit that rises towards God and that speaks of God’s love, His Holiness, His Providence and His Power. A spirit that understands that only faith can say great things about man. Only in this way will you faithfully observe Easter.

This will be so if, as a Vincentian, you want to be an Easter person; a new person who encounters the light of the Risen One and wants, in turn, to be a light that encourages, uplifts and guides. A person who finds the way and wants to be a pilgrim who stays on the way, a way that encourages him to go on, strengthens his walk and protects him from detours. A person who needs nourishment: the Eucharist which “contains all the spiritual good of the Church, that is, Christ himself, our Easter”. A person who receives support in the Community and the Vincentian Family and draws encouragement from the Word of God, the Writings of St. Vincent, and the Vincentian Virtues. A person who advances along the way, who grows and seeks to take the definitive step into God’s world. A person who puts joy in everything. Finally, a person who makes this day a day for God. That is to say, to participate actively in the Sunday assembly, to listen attentively to his Word, remembering his death and resurrection; to take communion and touch him like Thomas (Jn 20,29). A person who, on this day, remembers that what he has in excess, someone else needs. That when he has too much, someone perhaps nearby is asking for it. That the money you have too much of, there is someone who needs it. That the food you have too much of, there is a poor person who asks for it. That the clothes and sandals that you are not wearing or that you have too many of, there is someone who needs them.

Thus, celebrating Easter in the Vincentian charism involves a commitment to “do” Easter. May St. Vincent de Paul lead you to Easter, inspire you to live Easter, and teach you to celebrate and share Easter. May you be totally of God, in God and for God this Easter.

By Jean Rolex, C.M.
Source: https://cmglobal.org/

[1] Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer II.

[2] Benedict XVI (2012). Homily at the Easter Vigil. https://www.vatican.va/.

[3] Ibid,

[4] Roman Missal, Easter Preface IV.

[5] Montaña, Candido V. (1972). Unidos en la palabra: espiritualidad del domingo con proyección semanal. Claretiana: Buenos Aires.