Monday, September 27, 2010

350th Anniversary of Deaths of St. Vincent de Paul & St. Louise de Marillac - Blessed Chiara Badano


2010 is the 350th anniversary of the deaths of the great promoters of the Church's vocation to care for the poor: Saint Vincent de Paul (whose memorial we celebrate today) and of St. Louise de Marillac.

Louise de Marillac was born probably at Ferrieres-en-Brie near Meux, France, on August 12, 1591. She was educated by the Dominican nuns at Poissy. She desired to become a nun but on the advice of her confessor, she married Antony LeGras, an official in the Queen's service, in 1613.

After Antony's death in 1625, she met St. Vincent de Paul, who became her spiritual adviser. She devoted the rest of her life to working with him. She helped direct his Ladies of Charity in their work of caring for the sick, the poor, and the neglected.

In 1633 she set up a training center, of which she was Directress in her own home, for candidates seeking to help in her work. This was the beginning of the Sisters (or Daughters, as Vincent preferred) of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (though it was not formally approved until 1655).

She took her vows in 1634 and attracted great numbers of candidates. She wrote a rule for the community, and in 1642, Vincent allowed four of the members to take vows. Formal approval placed the community under Vincent and his Congregation of the Missions, with Louise as Superior. She traveled all over France establishing her Sisters in hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions.

By the time of her death in Paris on March 15, the Congregation had more than forty houses in France. Since then they have spread all over the world. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934, and was declared Patroness of Social Workers by Pope John XXIII in 1960. Her feast day is March 15th.

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St. Vincent de Paul The deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent's eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.

It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among poor tenant farmers and country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

Later, Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, "whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city." He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.

Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person—even his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been "hard and repulsive, rough and cross." But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.

Pope Leo XIII made him the patron of all charitable societies. Outstanding among these, of course, is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, founded in 1833 by his admirer Blessed Frederic Ozanam (September 7).
[Saint of the Day from http://www.americancatholic.org/]

"Strive to live content in the midst of those things that cause your discontent. Free your mind from all that troubles you, God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this [choice] without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because he sees that you do not honor him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires" (St. Vincent de Paul, Letters).

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O God, who for the relief of the poor and the formation of the clergy endowed the Priest St. Vincent de Paul with apostolic virtues, grant, we pray, that afire with that same spirit, we may love what he loved and practice what he taught. Through our Lord.

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REMARQUES DU SAINT-PERE HIER AVANT L'ANGELUS
Dans l'évangile de ce dimanche (Lc 16, 19-31), Jésus raconte la parabole de l'homme riche et du pauvre Lazare. Le premier vit dans le luxe et dans l'égoïsme, et quand il meurt, il finit en enfer. Le pauvre, au contraire, qui se nourrit des restes de la table du riche, est emporté par les anges, à sa mort, dans la demeure éternelle de Dieu et des saints. « Heureux vous les pauvres - avait proclamé le Seigneur à ses disciples - car le Royaume de Dieu est à vous » (Lc 6, 20).


Mais le message de la parabole va plus loin : il nous rappelle qu'alors que nous sommes dans ce monde, nous devons écouter le Seigneur qui nous parle par les saintes Ecritures et vivre selon sa volonté, autrement, après la mort, il sera trop tard pour se raviser. Donc, cette parabole nous dit deux choses : la première c'est que Dieu aime les pauvres et les relève après leur humiliation ; la seconde, c'est que notre destin éternel est conditionné par notre attitude. C'est à nous de suivre la voie que Dieu nous a montrée pour arriver à la vie, et cette voie c'est l'amour, non pas entendu comme sentiment, mais comme un service aux autres, dans la charité du Christ.

C'est une heureuse coïncidence que demain (le 27 septembre) nous célébrions la mémoire liturgique de Saint Vincent de Paul, patron des organisations caritatives catholiques : c'est le 350e anniversaire de sa mort. Dans la France du XVIIe s., il a touché du doigt le fort contraste entre les plus riches et les plus pauvres.

En effet, en tant que prêtre, il a pu fréquenter les milieux aristocratiques, les campagnes et les bas-fonds de Paris. Poussé par l'amour du Christ, Vincent de Paul a su organiser des formes stables de service aux personnes marginalisées, en donnant la vie à ce qu'on a appelé des « Charités », c'est-à-dire des groupes de personnes qui mettaient leur temps et leurs biens à la disposition des personnes les plus marginalisées. Parmi ces bénévoles, certaines ont choisi de se consacrer totalement à Dieu, et ainsi, avec Sainte Louise de Marillac, saint Vincent a fondé les « Filles de la Charité », première congrégation féminine à vivre la consécration « dans le monde » au milieu des gens, avec les malades et les nécessiteux.


Chers amis, seul l'Amour, avec un A majuscule, donne le vrai bonheur ! C'est ce que montre un autre témoin, une jeune qui a été proclamée bienheureuse hier ici, à Rome. Je parle de Chiara Badano, une jeune fille italienne née en 1971, qu'une maladie a conduite à la mort à un peu moins de 19 ans, mais qui a été pour tous un rayon de lumière, comme le dit son surnom : « Chiara Luce ». Sa paroisse, le diocèse d'Acqui Terme et le Mouvement des Focolari, auquel elle appartenait, sont aujourd'hui en fête, et c'est une fête pour tous les jeunes, qui peuvent trouver en elle un exemple de cohérence chrétienne. Ses dernières paroles, de pleine adhésion à la volonté de Dieu, ont été : « Maman, au revoir. Sois heureuse parce que moi je le suis ». Elevons notre louange vers Dieu parce que son amour est plus fort que le mal et que la mort ; et remercions la Vierge Marie qui conduit les jeunes, même à travers les difficultés, et les souffrances, à devenir amoureux de Jésus et à découvrir la beauté de la vie.

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