St Vincent de Paul: 350 years
27th of September 2010, the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul, marks the end of the jubilee year for The Daughters of Charity and the Lazarist Fathers. It has in fact been 350 years, since two “Holy giants” (in the words of Mgr Antonio Franco) Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac died.
These two saints left behind them an immense amount of charity serving the poor, which influences each and every individual. If, “it is by the fruit that one recognizes the tree” as our Lord Jesus said to us (Mt 12, 33) the trees must be excellent! As the influence of these two saints has spread to as far as the Holy Land, where our dear sisters are well known throughout everyone!
Each convent celebrated as one would except the end of the jubilee year: the communities of Bethany, Bethlehem, Ein Karem, Haifa, Nazareth and Jerusalem (you can see the photos from the celebrations in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ein Karem in the gallery below.)
In Bethlehem, Mgr Shomali led mass at the Manger’s Square in Bethlehem. The assembly, composed of several priests and nuns, but above all numerous worshippers, gathered around the Sisters of Saint Vincent, who are very well loved in the city for their work serving the Palestinian children. It was a very beautiful celebration, accompanied by the magnificent seminaries choir of Beit Jala, in a both fraternal and religious atmosphere. In his homily, he underlined that on a world scale, the most important things are “initiative and thought”, but for God the only thing that counts is love. “Saint Vincent de Paul is an example of this love”, he added, as is Mother Teresa, whom at this time we celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth, and Chiara Luce Badano, who was recently beatified: all are examples of an immeasurable love.
A few days beforehand, at the community of Jerusalem in the large chapel of the Sisters, Mgr Antonio Franco, Apostolistic Nonce for Israel and apostolic delegate for Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, came to celebrate last Friday, the 24th of September, the solemn mass in honour of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac, at the end of this jubilee year. He recalls his own past experience with the Daughters of Charity and the Lazarist priests, and offered to the audience a profound homily.
“We could assimilate Saint Vincent de Paul to a combatant fighting against destitution, an important figure of charity, the major forerunner of all the philanthropies and philosophies of today. However this is only one aspect of the influence the lives of these great saints has had.”
In the Gospel proclaimed during the ceremony, we are reminded that the Lord said to us “‘for each time you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Mt 25, 40). The Vincentian spirit cannot therefore be summarized to humanism: it is really about a total giving which is motivated by a theological love. The love of God urges us to offer our service to the poorest, the smallest and the most marginalized.
Thus, it’s true their life profoundly anchored in God by the prayer that has brought so much fruit.
Everyone should be inspired by these examples, not only the Vincentian family: As it is the fruit of our baptism to understand that we have to demonstrate our faith by aiding others and by to having the spontaneity, to see Christ in everyone”.
“Let us pray for one another, for the Church, so that we can all be a declaration of God’s love towards our brothers and our sisters”, so were the ending words of His Excellency in the Homily.
“May the Spirit of Charity so fill our hearts and minds that our love for our brothers and sisters, who are marginalized and rejected by society, be gentle, attentive, compassionate, pro-active and inventive unto infinity”
Extract from the Vincentian family prayer for the jubilee year.