At my work station, there is a face that constantly looks at me from a wall across my desk. It is that of St. Vincent de Paul, founder of the congregation of priests and brothers, the Congregation of the Mission, and of the Daughters of Charity, with St. Louise de Marillac. The school where I work is run by the Daughters and named after the first native born American saint, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, who founded the Sisters in the U.S.
The Church through the centuries has been blessed with religious orders which were founded by men and women who wanted to proclaim and witness to the Lord's Gospel through their various specific charisms. The Jesuits, the Benedictines, the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Carthusians, and others have their own mottoes which describe in a few words their particular charism, spirituality and way of life.
The motto of the Vincentian Family is: "He has sent me to proclaim the Good News to the poor". (Lk.4:18). The crest of the Daughters of Charity is a heart encompassed by flames, with a superimposed crucifix surrounded by the motto: ‘Caritas Christi Urget Nos’ ("The love of Christ urges us . . .)" 2 Cor 5:14 5:14
This year the Vincentian Family is celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism of preaching the Good News by ministering to the poor as commanded by our Lord:
“Give alms from your possessions. Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, so that God’s face will not be turned away from you. Give in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth, give alms out of your abundance; if you have but little, do not be afraid to give alms even of that little. You will be storing up a goodly treasure for yourself against the day of adversity. For alms-giving delivers from death and keeps one from entering into Darkness. Alms-giving is a worthy offering in the sight of the Most High for all who practice it. Eph 4:29-32
Our Lord describes the reward for those who abide with this commandment of love for the poor and the needy:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Mt 25:31-40
These words from Sacred Scripture are meant for all of us who profess the Christian Faith.
May the love of Christ for the poor impel us to love and help them in ways we can, like the Vincentian Family has done for the past 400 years.
The Lord hears the cry of the poor.#
"If he [a poor man] cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate." Exodus 22:26