Defending our Beliefs and Loving our Adversaries • A Weekly Reflection with Ozanam

by | May 4, 2024 | Formation, Reflections

Above all else, let us learn how to defend our convictions without hating our adversaries, to love those who have a different opinion, to recognize the fact that Christians have many and varied viewpoints and that God can be served today as always. Let us complain less about our era and more about ourselves; let us feel less discouraged and let us strive to be better human beings.


Frederic Ozanam, Letter to Alexandre Dufieux, April 9,  1851.



  1. A short but substantive text speaks to us about the ability to engage in dialogue, to love our “enemies”, to defend our faith as well as to live our faith. This text also refers to the distinct points of view that exist within the Catholic Church and the need to understand and to love one another.
  2. In the letter cited above, Frederic spoke to his friend, Alexandre, about the reality of dissension in the Church. Some people in France wanted to see a powerful Church, one that was allied with the various power centers. Others, like Ozanam and Lacordaire, proclaimed: blessed are the poor and called for greater involvement with those persons who were marginalized by society.
  3. In our own era we can also see some of those same differences and it is true that Vincentians have a different vision of reality than many other people. Frederic exhorts us to fulfill the mission that has been entrusted to us and to do so with simplicity and humility, with charity and zeal … to fulfill that mission in the same manner that Saint Vincent exhorts us. In other words, in everything that we do, we are to act with love, mindful of the fact that it is important to serve God and to fulfill his command to build up the Kingdom of God. For us as Vincentians, the Kingdom of God is for those men and women who are poor: if people want to be first, they must become the last of all and the servant of all (Mark 9:35). Indeed, the Kingdom of God belongs to the poor and to those who serve those persons who are poor (cf. Matthew 25).
  4. We are not here to judge God’s plan but rather, to bring that plan to fulfillment and do so as we follow the personal call that we have received. Since we have been called to serve God in the person of those who are poor, we must do so in a wholehearted manner. Only in that way will we fulfill the commandment that we have received from Jesus Christ and, in turn, follow the example of our spiritual founders: Vincent, Louise, Frederic and so many others who dedicated their lives to the service of the Gospel.

Questions for dialogue:

  1. What feelings do these words of Ozanam provoke in me?
  2. Am I firm in my convictions, while respecting those of others?
  3. How am I fulfilling today the vocation to which I have been called, to serve the impoverished? How can I improve?

Javier F. Chento
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