PASTORAL VISIT TO LAMEZIA TERME AND SERRA SAN BRUNO
VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was the programme of the pastoral visit which Benedict XVI is due to make on Sunday 9 October to the Italian towns of Lamezia Terme and Serra San Bruno.
The Pope will depart from Ciampino airport in Rome at 8.30 a.m., landing at9.15 a.m. at the airport of Lamezia Terme. At 10 a.m. he will celebrate Mass in an industrial area on the outskirts of the town.
Following lunch with bishops at 1.30 p.m. in the episcopal residence of Lamezia Terme, at 4.30 p.m. the Holy Father will greet the organisers of his visit. At 4.45 p.m. he is due to travel by helicopter from the "Guido d'Ippolito" stadium to Serra San Bruno where, at 5.30 p.m., he will meet with local people at the sports ground.
At 6 p.m. the Pope Benedict will celebrate Vespers and deliver a homily in the church of the Carthusian monastery of Serra San Bruno, after which he will meet the monastic community and visit a cell and the infirmary of the monastery.
He is scheduled to return to Lamezia Terme by helicopter at 7.30 p.m., and to depart from there by plane to Rome at 8 p.m.
VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of celebrations to be presided by the Holy Father in the months of October and November:
- Sunday 9: 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Pastoral visit to Lamezia Terme and Serra San Bruno, Italy.
- Sunday 16: 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time. At 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Mass for the New Evangelisation.
- Sunday 23: 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time. At 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, canonisation of the following blesseds: Guido Maria Conforti, Luigi Guanella, Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro.
- Wednesday 26: At 10.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, prayer in preparation for the Meeting for Peace in Assisi.
- Wednesday 2: All Souls Day. At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Grottoes, a moment of prayer for deceased Popes.
- Thursday 3: At 11.30 a.m. at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica, Mass for cardinals and bishops who died over the course of the year.
- Friday 4: At 5.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica. Vespers for the beginning of the academic year in the Pontifical Universities.
- Friday 18 - Sunday 20: Apostolic trip to Benin.
VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2011 (VIS) - On Saturday 24 September, during the course of his apostolic visit to Germany, the Holy Father met with seminarians in the city of Freiburg im Breisgau, whom he addressed off-the-cuff in German. Extracts of his remarks are given below.
The Pope dwelt upon the significance of the years spent in the seminary, and he reflected on the passage from the Gospel of St. Mark which narrates the foundation of the community of the Apostles: "The Lord appoints twelve", said the Holy Father. "He makes something, He does something, it is a creative act. He makes them, 'to be with Him, and to be sent out to preach'. ... They have to be with Him in order to come to know Him, ... but at the same time they have to be envoys who go out, who take with them what they have learnt, who bring it to others, ... even into places far removed from Him. ... This combination of, on the one hand, going out on mission, and on the other hand being with Him, remaining with Him, is - I believe - precisely what we have to learn in the seminary".
"The seminary is therefore a time for training. Also, of course, it is a time for discernment, for learning. ... The mission must be tested, and this includes being in community with others and also, of course, speaking with your spiritual directors". It involves "learning to trust: if He truly wants this, then I may entrust myself to Him. In today's world ... in which everything is in a constant state of flux, in which human ties are breaking down, ... it is becoming more and more difficult to believe that I will hold firm for the whole of my life". But, "if He wants me, then He will also hold me, He will be there in the hour of temptation, in the hour of need, and He will send people to me, He will show me the path. ... Faithfulness is possible, because He is always there, because He exists yesterday, today and tomorrow".
Apart from being a time for discernment, learning and vocation, the seminary is also a time for prayer, "for listening to Him", said Benedict XVI, "listening, truly learning to listen to Him - in the word of Sacred Scripture, in the faith of the Church, in the liturgy of the Church - and learning to understand the present time in His word. In exegesis we learn much about the past: what happened, what sources there are, what communities there were, and so on. This is also important. But more important still is that from the past we should learn about the present, we should learn that He is speaking these words now, and that they all carry their present within them, and that over and above the historical circumstances in which they arose, they contain a fullness which speaks to all times".
"Faith comes from hearing", said the Holy Father referring to the words of St. Paul. That is to say, faith needs "the living word, addressed to me by the other, whom I can hear, addressed to me by the Church throughout the ages" by "priests, bishops and my fellow believers. Faith must include a 'you' and it must include a 'we'".
In this context the Pope highlighted the importance of accepting other people in their individuality, while remaining aware that they too must accept us in our individuality. Only in this way, he explained, can the community of faithful become a "'we', journeying together towards the living God. ... The 'we' is the whole community of believers, today and in all times and places. ... We are Church: let us be Church, let us be Church precisely by opening ourselves and stepping outside ourselves and being Church with others".
In closing, Benedict XVI reminded the seminarians of the importance of study. "We all know that St. Peter said: 'Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you'. Our world today is a rationalist and thoroughly scientific world, albeit often somewhat pseudo-scientific. ... The faith is not a parallel world of feelings that we can still afford to hold on to, rather it is the key that encompasses everything, gives it meaning, interprets it and also provides its inner ethical orientation: making clear that it is to be understood and lived as tending towards God and proceeding from God. Therefore it is important to be informed and to understand, to have an open mind, to learn. ... Study is essential: only thus can we stand firm in these times and proclaim within them the reason for our faith".
VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the 950th anniversary of the dedication of Speyer Cathedral in Germany, due to take place on 2 October.
Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
28 Sep 2011
Father Alexander Sherbrooke is renowned worldwide for revitalising St Patrick's Parish in Soho, London's notorious red light district where the city's homeless and prostitutes share narrow crowded streets with tourists and theatre goers headed for the West End.
Not only has Fr Alex breathed new life into Soho's centuries-old Catholic parish, bringing hope to its transient population through a spiritual outreach program, but in 2003 he established London's international School of Mission offering graduate Catholics a 12-month live-in course to deepen their faith, discover their vocation and become true apostles of the New Evangelisation.
Now the tall, energetic Eton-educated young priest is headed for Australia to take part in the Archdiocese of Sydney's 2011 Colloquium for Parish Renewal and the New Evangelisation.
Held at the University of Notre Dame's Broadway campus in Sydney, the Colloquium will take place over the second weekend of October, offering a forum for parishes across Sydney for renewal and affirmation as well as provide a faith-based source of optimism and inspiration.
A series of speakers as well as workshops will present creative and innovative initiatives to meet the changes and challenges facing parishes today as well as present resources available to parishes, clerics, educators and lay people to bring their community the precious gift of Christ's love.
Organised by CREDO, the Sydney Archdiocese office for Evangelisation and Renewal, it is the fourth time a Colloquium for the New Evangelisation has been held. The most recent Colloquium took place in 2008 and not only attracted participants from across Australia but the speakers and content were of such a high calibre, that a book produced from the proceedings: 'The New Evangelisation: Developing Evangelical Preaching" is still in demand and has undergone several printings.
A book is also expected to be produced from this year's Colloquium which focuses on parishes which give most of us our first experience of the Church. Our local parish is where the majority of us receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Communion, Reconciliation and Confirmation. It is also where we marry and gather to mourn and pray for our dead.
But in today's increasing pressure cooker-like world where people are time poor and on call 24/7, faith frequently takes a backseat, as does our involvement with our local parish and church.
With the help of Fr Alex together with Bishop Julian Porteous, the Archdiocese's Vicar for Evangelisation and Renewal, Fr Rex Curry from the Catholic Parish of Sydney's Lower North Shore Parish and Fr Paul Hopper of St Joseph's Parish, Kingswood, along with panel discussions and workshops the Colloquium will address all the different ways parishes can be revitalised, refreshed and renewed.
In addition the Colloquium will show participants how to stage a parish mission event and how to take advantage of evangelism opportunities during the normal parish year. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) process will also be discussed as a way to not only re-affirm faith but bring new vibrancy and hope to the entire parish.
Fr Alex, speaking from London prior to his arrival in Sydney next week, says one of the problems he faced when he joined St Patrick's Soho parish 10 years ago, was the exodus of residential parishioners. Not only did Fr Alex have to contend with a fast diminishing parish of local residents, many of whom had quit inner London for the city's outer suburbs, but also the seediness and sordidness of the area where prostitutes ply their trade and the homeless seek shelter in doorways.
Undaunted, Fr Alex reached out to the riff-raff, drug addicts and homeless as well as Soho's new and fast growing Latin American community and long established Chinese chaplaincy.
Offering the Blessed Sacrament 12 hours a day, a weekly dinner for the local homeless, a weekly prayer group for drug addicts and their families, Fr Alex also founded an SOS prayer-line where trained volunteers pray with distressed callers, a natural fertility clinic in the basement of the Rectory for engaged and married couples and introduced free meals with free catechetical talks for young Catholics interested in discovering more about their faith.
Not content to stop there, he also set about establishing the International School of Mission, or School of Evangelisation as it is known, where around 12 students from across Britain as well as from Poland, the US, Ireland and other countries can live and study for a year, during which time they are able to discover their vocation, deepen their faith and evangelise on Soho's streets.
"Poverty comes in many forms," Fr Alex says of the many programs he has instigated in his parish, and his commitment to the New Evangelisation as described by Pope John Paul II. "There is material poverty, which we try to meet throughout open house suppers for the homeless and our prayer group for those on drugs. But there is also spiritual poverty, loneliness, lack of love, guilt. There is a great need to bring people the healing love of Jesus, especially through the Blessed Sacrament."
For Fr Alex, Eucharistic Adoration is an essential part of parish renewal, as is having young people in the parish or studying at the School of Mission with the poor.
"Service to the poor is the very heart of the Gospel and the life of the Church. And it is important to give young people the opportunity to specifically touch and see Christ in the poor," he says describing evangelisation as "speaking through Christ to people."
Faith is even more important these days, he believes particularly in a nation such as Britain which has seen a breakdown and disintegration of family life and Christian values.
"In many ways Britain's recent riots were a manifestation of gang culture which regard the forces of law and order as pushovers. These gang members are products of a social welfare system over several generations who have no respect for their elders or for the police or authority, and certainly some areas in the UK are now lawless," he says.
But while this is definitely an issue, Fr Alex believes what is even more significant from a Christian point of view is the fact that the British are now living in a society that doesn't promote the values of marriage, doesn't promote the values of family or education or respect for the elderly.
"These are pillars of Christianity and they have been undermined over several generations. Until now we have had not just a breakdown of law and order in Britain but of our entire social structure."
The CREDO Colloquium on Parish Renewal and Evangelisation will take place on 8 - 9 October at the Broadway campus of the University of Notre Dame. To find out more and to register log on tohttp://www.sydneycatholic.org/events/evangelisation.shtml
The evening's speakers, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Jack Valero and Dr Austen Iveriegh were introduced by Catholic Voices patron Lord Brennan. During his presentation Archbishop Nichols praised the initiative. Apart from any other reason, he said, "we know that attractive young people, men and women, are far more marketable than crotchety old bishops... Anyone who has been watching the Pope’s visit to Germany on the television will see how unattractive elderly bishops, badly dressed in their cassocks, wearing headphones, can really look. So in terms of getting a Catholic voice on the media, there is a great deal of advantages that the organisation called Catholic Voices – just from an aesthetic point of view, let alone any other point of view – offers."
Archbishop went on to praise the intelligent, hopeful and non-confrontational style of Catholic Voices. He suggested that Catholics can 'reframe' their opposition to gay marriage by learning from the Green movement’s call to respect the order of the natural world.
Quoting from the Holy Father’s speech in the Bundestag the day before, he said: “How can nature reassert itself in its true depth, with all its demands, with all its directives?” ... "I would say that the emergence of the ecological movement in German politics since the 1970s, while it has not exactly flung open the windows, nevertheless was and continues to be a cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside, just because too much of it is seen to be irrational. Young people had come to realize that something is wrong in our relationship with nature, that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives." .."If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture."
"The importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly. Yet I would like to underline a further point that is still largely disregarded, today as in the past: there is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he listens to his nature, respects it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.”
And there, I suggest, is the beginning of a reframing of the issues, of an approach – that marriage first belongs of course to nature, not to the Church."
The Archbishop concluded: "I am immensely grateful to those who have taken this initiative and I assure them of my prayers and goodwill as it seeks to develop into a whole new strength in the life of the Church in England and Wales. Thank you all very much indeed."
The evening also saw the launch of two books: Who know Where They Stand: Catholic Voices and the Papal Visit to the UK, by Jack Valero and Austen Ivereigh, published by the University of the Holy Cross’s School of Communications in Rome; and Catholic Voices: putting the case for the Church in an era of 24-hour news, (Darton, Longman and Todd) by Austen Ivereigh and Kathleen Griffin, with a foreword by one of the project’s trustees, Fr Christopher Jamison. The book is a 'how-to' guide to help ordinary Catholics respond to criticism of the Church on controversial issues, such as condoms and Aids, clerical sex abuse, equality and religious freedom.
For more information on Catholic Voices visit their new website at: http://www.catholicvoices.org.uk/
Faryal Bhatti misspelled a word in urdu referring to Muhammad, resulting in incredible reactions from teachers and the ulema. Expelled from school, her mother, a nurse, forced to leave work. Bishop Anthony: "Society is becoming so intolerant that a tiny error gets major attention."
Abbottabad (AsiaNews) - A spelling error has led to an accusation of blasphemy, and serious consequences for a Christian girl of 10 years of age and her family in Abbottabad. Faryal Bhatti, the daughter of a nurse, Sarafeen Bhatti is a student at Colony High School Havelian POF. On September 22, during an examination she misspelled a word in Urdu, putting the full top in the wrong place. Thus the word, referring to the prophet Muhammad, was transformed from "poem of praise" (naat) to "curse (lanaat). The Urdu teacher, Mrs. Fareeda, sternly rebuked Faryal in front of the class and took the matter to the headmaster, even though the child defended herself saying that it was a mistake.
The news of the alleged insult to Muhammad spread through the school, among teachers and the direction accused the girl of blasphemy. The school authorities informed the religious authorities who together with the inhabitants of the colony staged a demonstration, demanding the child be reported to police, expelled from school and her family expelled from the Colony. A mob chanted slogans against Christians, and in Friday sermons religious leaders denounced the episode as "a conspiracy against Islam", which was to be crushed.
In a meeting with teachers and religious leaders the child (in tears) and her mother explained that it was a mistake and apologized. Maulana Syed Ejaz Ali, a religious leader of the Jamia Masjid saw the piece of paper, talked with the child and mother and concluded: "I have no precise idea about the intentions of Faryal, her eyes filled with tears show her innocence, but the error has transformed the word into an insult and this is sufficient reason for a punishment, she should never throughout her entire life, think against Islam. "
To appease the religious the school administration expelled Faryal from school, Islamic clerics lobbied the Colony administration resulting in the mother being fired and forced to leave the residence. Both mother and daughter were transferred to Wah Cantonment by the hospital management. The Masihi Foundation has asked two Islamic clerics in Islamabad to give their opinion on the matter, Maulana Mehfooz Ali Khan and Hussain Ahmed Malik. Maulana said: "It is the innocent mistake of a child. Many Muslim students in the madrasas incorrectly pronounce the Arabic words, changing their meaning, you can not punish a child for an honest mistake, the girl was only 10 years old, she will carry this trauma with her. Faryal Bhatti has been subjected to all of this only because she is Christian, I protest against the decision to expel the young child and to transfer the mother. "
The bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Anthony Rufin, told AsiaNews: "I condemn the incident. Now, even Christian students are victimized and accused of blasphemy. Society is becoming so intolerant that a tiny error gets major attention. The ulema have decided on the punishment of a child who does not even know what she did wrong. They should have explained the mistake to her, if it really was a terrible mistake, in this way gaining her confidence and making a service to religious dialogue. What happened is exactly the opposite. "
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2011
FOUNDER OF THE VINCENTIANS
Feast: September 27
April 24, 1581, Pouy, Gascony, France
September 27, 1660, Paris, France
16 June 1737, Rome by Pope Clement XII
St Vincent de Paul chapel, Rue de Sèvres, Paris, France
charities; horses; hospitals; leprosy; lost articles; prisoners; spiritual help; Saint Vincent de Paul Societies; Vincentian Service Corps; volunteers
Like his fellow saint, Francis de Sales, who was his friend and contemporary, Vincent de Paul performed an invaluable service to the Catholic Church in a period of confusion and laxness. But unlike the aristocratic bishop of Geneva, Vincent was born in poverty, of peasant stock. His birthplace was Pouy, near Dax in Gascony, in southwest France; the year was 1576. Jean de Paul and Bertrande de Moras, his parents, were sturdy farming people who reared a family of four sons and two daughters. Observing young Vincent's quick intelligence, his father sent him to be educated by the Cordelier Brothers at Dax. When the boy had been at school for four years, a lawyer of the town engaged him as tutor to his children, thus enabling Vincent to go on with his studies without further expense to his parents. Vincent continued his education at the Spanish University of Saragossa, and then returned to France to attend the University of Toulouse. At the age of twenty-four he was ordained priest by' the bishop of Perigueux, but remained at Toulouse for another four years to take the degree of Doctor of Theology.
Beyond an aptitude for study and a certain persistence in achieving his ends, there is nothing in Vincent's life up to this time to suggest his future fame and sanctity. He now went on a short journey which was to change his whole life. The scholarly young priest was to be captured at sea by pirates and sold as a slave in Africa! This extraordinary happening came about in the following way. Vincent, having returned home after receiving his degree, went back to Toulouse to recover by process of law a small legacy which had been left him by an old woman of that city. Homeward bound, he made the trip from Marseilles to Narbonne by water, on board a small coastwise vessel. The ship was set upon by three brigantines manned by Barbary pirates, who were at this time a menace to all Mediterranean shipping. When the Christians refused to strike their flag, the infidels attacked them with arrows. Three were killed and several, including Vincent, were wounded. Those who remained alive were put in chains, and the pirates straightway sailed to Africa with their human cargo. Landing at Tunis, the pirates led their prisoners through the streets of the city, after which they were brought back to the vessel and sold to the highest bidder, like cattle. Vincent, bought by a fisherman, was sold again to an aged Moslem, a humane man, who had spent fifty years in search of the "philosopher's stone." He grew fond of his slave, to whom he gave long lectures on alchemy and Mohammedanism; he even promised to make Vincent his heir and also to communicate to him all the secrets of his science if he adopted the religion of Islam. The young priest, terrified that his faith would be corrupted in this alien environment, prayed for divine protection, particularly for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin.
Vincent continued firm in his faith and lived on with the old man until his death, when he became the property of his master's nephew, who soon sold him to a renegade Christian, a native of Nice. This man, a convert to Mohammedanism, had three wives, one of whom was a Turkish woman. She often wandered into the field where the new Christian slave was at work, and out of idle curiosity would ask him to sing songs in praise of his God. With tears running down his cheeks Vincent would obediently sing certain Psalms, among which was Psalm cxxxvii, "By the waters of Babylon," in which the Jews bewailed their captivity. The Turkish woman now began to reproach her husband for abandoning his religion, and kept on until, without herself accepting the faith, she made him return to it. He repented of his apostasy, and he and Vincent made their escape from Africa together. They crossed the Mediterranean safely in a small boat, landed near Marseilles, in June, 1607, then traveled up to Avignon. There the apostate confessed, and abjured Mohammedanism before the papal vice-legate. The following year, accompanied by Vincent, he went to Rome, where he entered the order of the Brothers of St. John of God, who serve in hospitals.
Vincent now returned to France and chanced to be brought to the attention of Queen Marguerite of Valois, who appointed him her almoner. This office gave him the income from a small abbey. For a time he lodged in the same house as a lawyer, who was one day robbed of a considerable sum. He openly charged Vincent with the theft and spoke against him to all his friends. Vincent did nothing save quietly deny the charge, adding, "God knows the truth." For six years he bore the slander, making no further denial, and at last the real thief confessed. Speaking as though the victim had been someone else, Vincent once told this story at a conference with his priests, in order to show that patience, silence, and resignation are generally the best defense of innocence.
Vincent soon came to know a famous priest of Paris, Monsieur de Berulle, afterwards a cardinal. Father Berulle, who at that time was founding a branch of the Congregation of the Oratory in France, recognized Vincent's worth. He found for him a curacy at Clichy, in the outskirts of Paris, and later through his influence Vincent became tutor to the children of Philip de Gondi, Count of Joigny and general of the galleys of France. The countess, a serious-minded woman, was so impressed by Vincent that she eventually chose him as her spiritual director.
In 1617, while the family was at its country seat at Folleville, in the diocese of Amiens, Vincent was sent for to hear the confession of a peasant who lay dangerously ill. In the course of his questioning, Vincent learned that every one of the peasant's previous confessions had been sacrilegious. On his recovery the man declared, in the presence of the countess, that he would have been eternally lost if he had not spoken with Vincent. Unlike the majority of noble women of this period, who felt no responsibility for their dependents, this good lady was concerned about the spiritual welfare of her tenantry. She persuaded Vincent to preach in the parish church of Folleville and instruct the people. Such crowds came to confess that he called the Jesuits of Amiens to his aid. The Congregation of the Mission had its inception at this time.
Vincent left the household of the count that same year to become pastor of the parish of Chatillon-les-Dombes, which had long been neglected, its church virtually abandoned to the elements. By restoring the church, by instituting the habit of regular worship, he created a new spirit which helped to regenerate the whole district. He converted the notorious count of Rougemont and many other aristocrats from their dissolute lives. Seeing how effective Vincent's labors were, the countess now offered him a large sum of money to found a perpetual mission in whatever place and manner he thought fit. Nothing at first came of the idea, for Vincent seemed reluctant to undertake so important an enterprise. Meanwhile the countess secured her husband's help in organizing a company of zealous missionaries to work among their own vassals and the peasants of the countryside. They also discussed the plan for a perpetual mission with the count's brother, Jean Francois de Gondi, archbishop of Paris, who gave them the College des Bons Enfants as a reception house for the proposed new community.
The countess had obtained from Vincent a promise to continue as her spiritual director while she lived and to assist her at the end. She was in failing health and died in the summer of 1625, whereupon Vincent went to Paris to establish himself at the College des Bons Enfants. Now, at the age of forty-nine, he was free to assume the position of director. He drew up rules and constitutions for the house, and these were approved by Pope Urban VIII in 1632. In that year they were given the priory of St. Lazare, henceforth the chief house of the congregation. The Fathers of the Mission thus came to be called Lazarists, although they are more generally known as Vincentians. The Congregation consisted then, as it still does, of priests and laymen who, after a period of probation, take four simple vows, poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability. They live from a common fund and devote themselves to sanctifying their own spirits and to converting sinners. They are employed in missions, especially to country people, teaching the Catechism, preaching, reconciling differences, and performing charitable deeds. Some of them conduct seminaries. Their institutions now flourish in all parts of the world. Vincent lived to see twenty-five more communities founded in France, northern Italy, Poland, and elsewhere.
Extensive and rewarding as this work was, it did not satisfy Vincent's passion for helping suffering people. He started con fraternities to seek out and care for the sick in every parish. From these groups, under the leadership of Louise de Marillac, sprang the Sisters of Charity, "whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister the streets of the city and wards of the hospitals." Vincent persuaded a number of noble and wealthy Parisian women, who had hitherto never given a thought to the misery of others, to band together as Ladies of Charity, to collect funds and assist in many practical ways. He made plans for the founding of several hospitals to serve the needy sick, foundlings, and the aged. At Marseilles a home was opened for exhausted galley-slaves. It was the custom at this time in France to punish criminals by condemning them to service in the war galleys of the state. Under the lash and chained to their benches, they performed the cruelly hard labor of rowing these cumbersome vessels with their many-tiered banks of oars. After a few years the prisoners were broken and useless; now for the first time they had a hospital and various other forms of aid.
For men about to take Holy Orders, Vincent devised a set of spiritual exercises, and special exercises also for those desiring to make general Confession, or to settle on a vocation. He conferred frequently with the clergy on the correction of the shocking slackness, ignorance, and abuses that were all around them. To the Biblical injunction, "Thou art thy brother's keeper," he gave new practical meaning, by laying down patterns of philanthropy that have been followed ever since. To the worldly society of seventeenth-century Paris he presented a much-needed example of selfless charity.
The great political and religious conflict known as the Thirty Years War was now raging. Vincent, on hearing of the wretchedness of the people of Lorraine, collected alms for them in Paris. He sent missionaries to other countries affected by the war. Recalling his own sorrows as a slave in Tunisia, he raised enough money to ransom some twelve hundred Christian slaves in Africa. He had influence with the powerful Cardinals Richelieu and De Retz, directors of French foreign policy; and was sent for by King Louis XIII, to minister to him as he lay dying. The king's widow, Anne of Austria, now Queen Regent, had him made a member of the Council of Conscience of the five-year-old prince, the future Louis XIV. Vincent continued to be in favor at court, and during the civil war of the Fronde, tried to persuade the Queen Regent to give up her unpopular minister, Cardinal Mazarin, to help pacify and unify the people.
Thus, although he had no advantages of birth, fortune, or handsome appearance, or any showy gifts at all, Vincent de Paul's later years became one long record of accomplishment. In the midst of great affairs, his soul never strayed from God; always when he heard the clock strike, he made the sign of the cross as an act of divine love. Under setbacks, calumnies, and frustrations, and there were many, he preserved his serenity of mind. He looked on all events as manifestations of the Divine will, to which he was perfectly resigned. Yet by nature, he once wrote of himself, he was "of a bilious temperament and very subject to anger." Without divine grace, he declared, he would have been "in temper hard and repellent, rough and crabbed." With grace, he became tenderhearted to the point of looking on the troubles of all mankind as his own. His tranquillity seemed to lift him above petty disturbances. Self-denial, humility, and an earnest spirit of prayer were the means by which he attained to this degree of perfection. Once when two men of exceptional learning and ability asked to be admitted to his congregation, Vincent courteously refused them, saying: "Your abilities raise you above our low state. Your talents may be of good service in some other place. As for us, our highest ambition is to instruct the ignorant, to bring sinners to a spirit of penitence, and to plant the Gospel spirit of charity, humility, and simplicity in the hearts of all Christians." One of his rules was that, so far as possible, a man ought not to speak of himself or his own concerns, since such discourse usually proceeds from and strengthens pride and self-love.
Vincent was deeply concerned at the rise and spread of the Jansenist heresy. He protested hotly against a view of God that seemed to limit His mercy, and no priest teaching that error could remain in his congregation. "I have made the doctrine of grace the subject of my prayer for three months," he said, "and every day God has confirmed my faith that our Lord died for us all and that He desires to save the whole world."
As the end of his long life drew near, Vincent endured much suffering. On September 27, 1660, he received the Last Sacraments, and died calmly in his chair, being then eighty-five years old. He was buried in the church of St. Lazare, Paris. In 1729 he was beatified by Benedict XIII, and canonized by Clement XII in 1737. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him patron of all charitable societies. His emblem is, most appropriately, children.
|Luke 9: 51 - 56|
|51||When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.|
|52||And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him;|
|53||but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.|
|54||And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?"|
|55||But he turned and rebuked them.|
|56||And they went on to another village.|