Someone has sent me a loose translation of two letters of Ozanam taken from a French work “”Saint Vincent de Paul et l’armée”, Ed. du Cedre, Paris, 1975.
“Here is what Blessed Federico Ozanam (1813-1853), founder of the Society of Saint Vincent De Paul, wrote to his friends more than 170 years ago, in a time when France, his country, was witnessing bloody social clashes. It is striking to see how his message is always relevant and it is amazing to see that he wrote these lines when he was only about 20.”
“However, what most of all leaves a mark in our mind is the content of his reflections: the awareness that, once the analysis of a difficult situation is done, it’s immediately necessary to commit oneself and to take action to solve it. This was his firm conviction: that nothing changes around us if first we, ourselves, don’t change.”The actual letters themselves
“…each time, at each occasion, my heart is either overwhelmed by joy or it is full of bitterness; my intelligence dreams of a future of glory and happiness or believes that it’s seeing in the distance the barbarism and grief approaching in great strides.
The latest events, most of all, filled me with a deep distress and great indignation. Notwithstanding this, even these very considerations are giving me strength and are penetrating within me with a sort of enthusiasm. I tell myself that it’s great to have been called to be witnesses of such events; that it is beautiful to be before such a solemn era; that, today, the mission of a young person in society is very difficult and very important.” (Letter by F. Ozanam to H. Fortoul, 2/21/1831)
“…the issue that in this moment makes the world around us jitter is neither a problem concerning certain personalities or a problem concerning certain political systems, but it is a social problem; if it is the struggle between the haves and the have-nots; if it is the violent collision between opulence and poverty that makes the ground shake under our feet, our duty as Christians is to place ourselves between these irreconcilable enemies and try to have the ones of one group deprive themselves of something, as if obeying to a law, and the others of the opposite group receive as if they were receiving a benefit; our duty is to do in such a way that one group stop expecting and the other stop refusing; we should see that equality among people be re-established as much as it is humanly possible; that, spontaneously, the community replace taxes and usury; that charity might succeed where justice, by itself, would not know how to succeed “(Letter by F. Ozanam to F. Lallier, 11/5/1836).
PS This latter quote is used in the readings for the feast of Blessed Frederic.
If anyone has the French work on Vincent and the Army I would be very interested in knowing more about it.