La Asociación Internacional de Juventudes Marianas Vicencianas es la renovación de la Asociación de Hijas e Hijos de María Inmaculada que tuvo su origen en las Apariciones de la Virgen María a Santa Catalina Labouré en 1830. En la actualidad la forman 66 países y más de 100.000 miembros repartidos por los cinco continentes.
Deeply moved by a destiny of five boys, this morning we took a trip to Bosansko Grahovo. VMY Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kap ljubavi ( A Drop of Love) decided again to act together, led by a slogan "All for one and one for all!"
Since today is 'The World's Day of the Poor', we really wished to do something nice for the five boys and their father and make their lives at least a little bit better. The boys live with the father who is working hard and doing his best to provide a normal life, and make up for the loss of a mother who left and abandoned them. People who are helping the family, have told us that these are joyful children and that the father takes good care of them, but they also need supporting hands from all of us. The house where they live in needs reconstruction. All of them reside in one room because the rest of the house is unfinished.
They were really happy about the gifts and everything else we brought for them, grateful for every little thing. The youngest boy is a bit over two years old and the oldest goes to highschool.
We do realize that we cannot alleviate poverty but we can reduce it, just like Mother Teresa once said: "All of us cannot do great things in life, but we can do small thing with great love!" Therefore, at the end of this cold day, we have returned to our homes with an incredible warmth in our hearts because we did a small thing with great love.
La Familia Vicentina en todas partes del mundo, se distingue por siempre estar lista para la misión. Este último mes no ha sido la excepción para nuestros hermanos puertorriqueños, quienes luego del paso de un huracán categoría cinco llamado María; han tenido la oportunidad de fortalecer y vivir a plenitud el carisma vicentino y la misión que les corresponde.
Vicentinos levantando a Puerto Rico
El miércoles 20 de septiembre de 2017, Puerto Rico comenzó una importante batalla enfrentando un nuevo reto considerado uno de los más grandes de su historia nacional. Y es que el paso de un huracán categoría cinco nombrado María sin duda ha causado estragos en la Isla. Dejando a su paso grandes e innumerables retos para los boricuas. Entre ellos se encuentran el colapso total de la energía eléctrica en todo el país, fallas considerables en las redes de comunicación, escases de alimentos y agua potable, brote de enfermedades y casas completamente destruidas. No obstante, estos retos no han sido impedimento para la Familia Vicentina Puertorriqueña, en especial para los jóvenes miembros de la Juventud Mariana Vicentina. Quienes han estado incansablemente trabajando para ayudar a todos los damnificados luego del paso del huracán. Los jóvenes de la Asociación han organizado la caridad recibiendo donativos de comida enlatada, ropa, agua potable, sabanas, dinero, entre otros. Para luego distribuir dichos suministros a las comunidades altamente afectadas.
La Juventud Mariana Vicentina Puertorriqueña, ha trabajado para levantar su país paso a paso. Cada centro de JMV, encontrados en diferentes zonas de Puerto Rico, se ha encargado de velar por los más necesitados de su comunidad y pueblos adyacentes. Luego de este fenómeno atmosférico, a través de sus acciones y misión enraizada a la Palabra de Dios y el carisma Vicentino, nuestros jóvenes han sido capaces de sembrar esperanza en el país y la vida del prójimo. No obstante, la generosidad de los puertorriqueños en general y el apoyo del resto de las ramas de la Familia Vicentina han sido pieza clave para cumplir nuestra misión.
Continuamos uniendo nuestros esfuerzos como familia para levantar a Puerto Rico y reflejar el amor de Dios en medio de esta situación, imitando las acciones de nuestro Patrón San Vicente de Paul. Amparados por nuestra Santísima Virgen, continuaremos viviendo a plenitud este mes del rosario y las misiones.
JUVENTUD MARIANA VICENTINA EN ACCION
Durante el mes de octubre estaremos trabajando inspirados en el lema: “Hechos para servir.” El mismo nos recuerda nuestra misión y la importancia de poner todos nuestros dones y talentos al servicio de los más necesitados. Viviremos al máximo el mes del rosario y las misiones, siendo sal y luz del mundo.
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Attended by more than 60 members together with their parents and friends, VMY Greece celebrated its 8th anniversary last October 29, 2017 at the Miraculous Medal Center - Athens. With the theme, “Today, I’m Gr-EIGHT-ful”, the celebration kicked off with the traditional praying of the Missionary Rosary - a rosary prayer dedicated to the five continents of the world. After the solemn prayer, a photo slideshow of past events and activities of VMY Greece was shown which provided a nostalgic feeling and drew smiles to everyone’s faces. This was then followed by a string of talent performances coming from the members of the five (5) “MERCY” teams encompassing the group: Mission, HopE, FRiendship, Compassion, and JoY teams. Surprisingly, parents of the VMY Greece members did not allow themselves to be outdone by their children, as they also did a musical number bringing a more joyous atmosphere to the celebration. They all sang their hearts out with the “The Jubilee Song” (popularized by Ms. Jamie Rivera). And as the lyrics of the song provides: “Open your hearts to the Lord and begin to see the mystery, that we are all together as one family…” the parents eventually showed how with their openness to the Lord brought together VMY Greece to become ONE big family.
Highlight of the celebration was the recognition given to three members of VMY Greece who have been a part of the group since its humble beginnings. They were awarded with a specially-designed plaque and a custom-made VMY GREECE medal as a sign of gratitude for their 8 years of service to VMY Greece. It was truly a touching moment as the three awardees upon receiving their awards offered an inspiring speech and shared to their fellow VMY members their experiences and motivation of why they are still active with the group. Meanwhile, the rest of the VMY Greece members as well as the parents also received medals in gratitude for their service and commitment to the organization.
The day eventually ended with a lunch buffet prepared by the parents and a group picture-taking.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Thank you for your warm welcome, and thanks to the Superior General for introducing our meeting.
I greet you and together with you I thank the Lord for the four hundred years of your charism. San Vincenzo has created a momentum of charity that lasts for centuries: a momentum that came out of his heart. For this reason today we have here the relic: the heart of St. Vincent. Today, I would like to encourage you to continue this journey, proposing three simple verbs that I believe are of great importance to the Vincentian spirit, but also for the Christian life in general: to worship, to welcome, to go.
Adore. There are innumerable invitations by St. Vincent to cultivate the inner life and to devote himself to the prayer that purifies and opens the heart. Prayer is essential to him. It is the compass of every day, it is like a manual of life, it is – he wrote – the “great book of the preacher”: only praying draws from God the love to pour into the world; only praying touch the hearts of people when announcing the Gospel (cf. Letter to A. Durand, 1658). But for Saint Vincent prayer is not just a duty, and much less a set of formulas. Prayer is to stand before God to be with Him, to devote himself to Him alone. This is the most pure prayer, the one that makes room for the Lord and his praise, and nothing else: adoration.
Once discovered, adoration becomes indispensable because it is pure intimacy with the Lord, which gives peace and joy, and melts the sorrows of life. Therefore, to someone under particular pressure, Saint Vincent also advised to be in prayer “without tension, turning to God with simple glances, not trying to have his presence with sensitive efforts, but abandoning himself to Him” (Letter to G. Pesnelle, 1659).
Here is the adoration: stand before the Lord, with respect, with calm and in silence, giving Him the first place, abandoning himself confident. Then ask him that his Spirit comes to us and let our things go to him. So also needy people, urgent problems, difficult and difficult situations fall into adoration, so that St. Vincent asked “to worship in God Even the reasons they are trying to understand and accept (cf. Letter to F. Get, 1659). Those who worship, those who attend the living source of love can only remain, so to speak, “contaminated”. And he begins to behave with the others as the Lord does with him: he becomes more merciful, more sympathetic, more available, exceeds his stiffness, and opens to others.
And so we come to the second verb: welcome. When we hear this word, we immediately think of something to do. But actually accepting is a deeper layout: it does not just require someone to put it, but also be welcoming, available, accustomed to others. Like God for us, so we for the others. To accept means to resize my self, to straighten the way of thinking, to understand that life is not my private property, and time does not belong to me. It is a slow detachment from all that is mine: my time, my rest, my rights, my programs, my agenda. Whoever accepts giving up on the ego and making you and us enter our lives.
The welcoming Christian is a true man and woman of the Church, because the Church is Mother and a Mother welcomes and accompanies her life. And as a son resembles the mother, carrying the traits, so the Christian carries these traits of the Church. He is then a truly faithful Son of the Church who is welcoming, who without complaint creates concord and communion and generously sows peace, even though it is not reciprocated. St. Vincent helps us to enhance this ecclesial “DNA” of acceptance, of availability, of communion, because in our lives “all bitterness, anger, wrath, shout, and malice with all sorts of malice” are lost “( Eph 4:31).
The last verb is to go. Love is dynamic, it comes out of itself. Whoever loves is not in the armchair to look, waiting for the advent of a better world, but with enthusiasm and simplicity it gets up and goes. St. Vincent said well: “Our vocation is therefore to go, not in a parish, and not just in a diocese but throughout the earth. And to do that? To inflame the hearts of men, doing what the Son of God did, He who came to bring fire to the world to inflate him of his love “(Conference May 30, 1659). This vocation is always valid for everyone. Ask each of the questions: “Do I meet others, as the Lord wants? Port where do I go this fire of charity or else shut up to warm me in front of my fireplace? ”
Dear brothers and sisters, thank you for moving in the streets of the world, as Saint Vincent would ask you today. I hope not to stop you, but to continue to draw from the adoration every day the love of God and spread it in the world through the good contagion of charity, availability, and concord. I bless you and the poor you meet. And I ask you, please, the charity not to forget to pray for me.
VMY Kitale Kenya celebrated the feast of Saint de Paul with their fellow Vincentian, the Society of Saint Vincet de Paul last September 30, 2017. They spent this day with their poor brothers and sisters at St. Kizito Parish in Kitale.
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul funded the event together with some donations from the church members who gave food, money and clothes. Days before the activity, the members prepared the things that they would be giving during the celebration.
The group invited the poor, street children, the sick and the orphans to celebrate with them the feast of Saint Vincent. The event started with the Holy Eucharist at 9:00 in the morning. After the mass, they had some entertainment for the guests and shared lunch together.
While the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul funded the event, the members of the VMY assisted in the food preparation, cooking and serving the guests. They also distributed the packed clothes prepared for them. After the celebration, the guests were given packed uncooked food that they can cook and eat at home. The VMY members were led by their president Collins Gumba and accompanied by their parish priest Fr Joseph Namanda who is guiding the VMY members in this parish.
Indeed it was a beautiful moment of sharing with their brothers and sisters especially those who are in need. What a way to celebrate the feast of the person who started our Vincentian Charism.
Dear brothers and sisters,
On the occasion of the fourth centenary of the charism that gave birth to your Family, I would like to extend my words of gratitude and encouragement and to emphasize the value and relevance of Saint Vincent de Paul today.
He was always progressing, open to seeking God and himself. Grace worked to supplement this constant quest: as a shepherd, he encountered Jesus the Good Shepherd in a striking way in the person of the poor. This occurred in a very special way when he allowed himself to be touched by the eyes of a man thirsting for mercy and by the situation of family lacking everything. At that moment, he was deeply moved by Jesus looking at him, inviting him to no longer live for himself, but to serve Jesus wholeheartedly in persons who are poor, whom Vincent de Paul would later call “our lords and masters” (Correspondence, Conferences, Documents XI, 349). His life then became steadfast service, up to his last breath. A verse from Scripture showed him the meaning of his mission: “The Lord has sent me to bring the Good News to the poor”(cf. Lk 4:18).
Burning with the desire to make Jesus known to persons who are poor, Vincent passionately dedicated himself to His proclamation, particularly through popular missions and most especially by attending to the formation of priests. He quite naturally used a “little method”: speaking first of all through his life and then with great simplicity, in a familiar and direct way. The Spirit used him as an instrument to raise up a generous impulse in the Church. Inspired by the first Christians who were of “one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32), Saint Vincent founded the Confraternities of Charity in order to care for those most in need. They lived in communion and joyfully offered their possessions, convinced that Jesus and persons who are poor are the most valuable treasures and that, as he liked to repeat, “When you go to the poor, you encounter Jesus.”
This “little mustard seed” sown in 1617 developed into the Congregation of the Mission and the Company of the Daughters of Charity, branched out into other institutes and associations and became a great tree (cf. Mk 4:31-32), your Family. Everything, however, began with this little mustard seed. Saint Vincent never wanted to be a hero or a leader but a “little seed”. He was convinced that humility, gentleness and simplicity are the essential conditions for embodying the law of the seed that gives life by dying (cf. Jn 12:20-26). This law alone makes Christian life fruitful. According to this law, in giving we receive, in losing our lives we gain them and in remaining hidden we shine. He was also convinced that he could not do this alone but rather together, as Church and as the People of God. On this point, I enjoy recalling his prophetic insight of valuing the exceptional feminine qualities shown in Saint Louise de Marillac’s spiritual sensitivity and human understanding.
“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40),says the Lord. At the heart of the Vincentian Family is the search for “those who are the poorest and most abandoned” and a deep awareness of being “unworthy of rendering them our little services” (Correspondence, Conferences, Documents XI, 349). I hope that this year of thanksgiving to the Lord and of going more deeply into the charism might be an opportunity to quench your thirst at the source, to refresh yourselves at the fountain of the spirit of your origins. Do not forget that the sources of grace from which you drink sprang from steadfast hearts firm in love, from “lasting models of charity” (Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Deus caritas est, 40). You will contribute the same freshness only if you look toward the rock from which everything gushed forth. This rock is Jesus in His poverty, whom you should recognize in those who are poor and voiceless. For He is there. And you, when you meet fragile people broken by past difficulties, you in turn are called to be rocks: not to appear hard and unshakeable, nor insensitive to sufferings, but to become a secure support, firm in the face of the uncertainties of the times and resistant in adversity because you “look to the rock from which you were hewn, to the quarry from which you were taken” (Is 51:1). You are thus called to reach out to the peripheries of human existence to bring not your skills, but the Spirit of the Lord, the “Father of the Poor”. He scatters you throughout the world like seeds that sprout in arid land, like a balm of consolation for the wounded, like a fire of charity to warm so many hearts cooled by abandonment and hardened by rejection.
In truth, all of us are called to drink from the rock of the Lord and to quench the thirst of the world with the charity that comes from Him. Charity is at the heart of the Church; it is the reason for its action, the soul of its mission. “Charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine. Every responsibility and every commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law” (Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Caritas in veritate, 2). Following this path will make the Church ever more fully the mother and teacher of charity, with a love that increases and abounds for one another and for all (cf. 1 Thes 3:12): harmony and communion within the Church, openness and welcome toward those outside. The Church must have the courage to give up what might be an advantage in order to imitate in all things its Lord and to fully become itself, making the apparent weakness of charity its only reason to boast (cf. 2 Cor 12:9). The words of the Council, so relevant today, resonate in us: “Christ Jesus... ‘being rich, became poor’ for our sakes. Thus, the Church, although it needs human resources to carry out its mission, is not set up to seek earthly glory, but to proclaim, even by its own example, humility and self-sacrifice. Christ was sent by the Father ‘to bring good news to the poor’... Similarly, the Church encompasses with love all who are afflicted with human suffering and in the poor and afflicted sees the image of its poor and suffering Founder. It does all it can to relieve their need and in them it strives to serve Christ” (Ecumenical Council Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8).
Saint Vincent did this all throughout his life and speaks still today to each one of us and to us as Church. His witness invites us to seek always, ready to let the Lord’s Word and His eyes upon us surprise us. He asks us for poverty of heart, total availability and obedient humility. He impels us to fraternal communion among ourselves and to courageous mission in the world. He calls us to free ourselves from complex language, self-centered rhetoric and attachment to material goods, which might appease us in the short term but do not give us God’s peace and are even often obstacles to mission. He encourages us to invest in the creativity of love with the authenticity of a “heart which sees” (cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Deus Caritas est, 31). Charity, in fact, is not satisfied with good practices of the past but is able to transform the present. This is all the more necessary today with the ever-changing complexity of our globalized society where some forms of charity or assistance, although justified by generous intentions, risk supporting forms of exploitation and illegal activity and do not produce real and sustainable progress. For this reason, envisioning charity, organizing close relationships and investing in formation are timely lessons from Saint Vincent. His example, though, also encourages us to give time and space to persons who are poor, to those suffering from the new forms of poverty of our time, to the too many people living in poverty today and to make their thoughts and difficulties our own. A Christianity without contact with people who suffer becomes a disincarnated Christianity, unable to touch the flesh of Christ. Encounter persons who are poor and give poor persons a voice so that our culture focused on the ephemeral does not reduce their presence to silence. I ardently hope that the celebration of the World Day of the Poor this November 19 will help us in our “call to follow Jesus in his own poverty,” becoming “an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need” and reacting “against a culture of discard and waste” (Message for the First World Day of the Poor, “Let us love, not with words but with deeds”, June 13, 2017).
I pray that you and the Church may be granted the grace of finding the Lord Jesus in your brother or sister who is hungry, thirsty, a stranger, stripped of his clothing and his dignity, sick and imprisoned but also doubting, ignorant, persistent in sin, afflicted, crude, ill-tempered and annoying. In the glorious wounds of Jesus, may you find the strength of charity, the happiness of the grain that gives life by dying, the fecundity of the rock from which water gushes forth, the joy of coming out of yourself in order to go out into the world, free from nostalgia for the past, confident in God and creative regarding the challenges of today and tomorrow because, as Saint Vincent said, “love is inventive to infinity”.
Vatican, 27 September 2017
Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul
From July 14-16, 2017, the 9th National Congress of VMY Vietnam was held with the theme “Let us be the living stones of God” at the Vincentian Monastery in Dalat City, Vietnam. It gathered over 300 attendees across the country.
On the first day, after the opening mass, participants spent time on various discussions led by the fathers of CM and by the president. These were some topics mentioned on the first day: “How to become a living stone of God” (by Fr. Peter Nguyen Cong Tuan, CM- the Director of the monastery); “Leadership in the VMY” (Mr. JB. Vu Trung Tuan- the president); “Roles of the leader” (by Fr. John Pham Huu Linh, CM - the National Advisor).
In the evening, the members joined in the game show “The Golden Bell” which helped them recall their knowledge of Our Lady, the VMY Association and the Vincentian Charism. After the game show, Ms. Marie Claire- the representative of the international team gave a talk sharing to the attendees some information about the International Team as well as about the VMY in the countries where she got chance to visit. She also shared that she was very happy to witness the Vietnamese culture and the unique practices of the VMY in this country. While sharing about the other VMY groups from the other countries, she commented that the modesty, kindness and commitment of each member was a very pleasant sight to witness.
On the second day, the VMY Vietnam welcomed 16 newly consecrated members as they made their Marian consecration. The report about the national team and VMY Vietnam for the past 3 years (July, 2014 – July, 2017) was also presented by the president, followed by the National Council election for the term of 2017-2020 where Mr. JB. Vu Trung Tuan was re-elected as the national president and the other 8 council members were then selected.
In the congress, the members also discussed and gave out a common living commitment for VMY Vietnam for the next 3 years (2018-2020): “Sacrificing personal work in order to participate actively and creatively in all group’s activities”
The second day ended with a very special night of music and the members had the opportunity to exchange and enjoy the cultural beauty of different parts of Vietnam.
On the last day of the congress, the members welcomed the guests from the Vincentian Family of Vietnam to the celebration of the 187th anniversary of Our Lady’s First Apparition to Saint Catherine Labouré and the 85th Anniversary of VMY Vietnam. The participants had the chance to recall the identities of a Vincentian Marian Youth Vincentian Spirituality in the mission of loving and serving the poor in the occasion of the 400 years Vincentian Charism.
The 9th National Congress of VMY Vietnam closed with an atmosphere of brotherhood.
BY JOSEPH NGUYEN CONG THANH
The VMY Greece had an eventful weekend last week holding a two-leadership training seminar for its core leaders. Held last September 9-10 at the Miraculous Medal Center, the VMY Group leader Mr. Thadeus Mendoza served as the facilitator to the 16 leaders who participated in the activity. The theme was "Take the Lead, VMY Leadership Training Seminar: Do you have what it takes to be a VMY leader?"
The goals of the training were:
• To not only give information or the skills for one to lead a VMY team, but instead to CHALLENGE each one to change, mature and be transformed into the image of Christ.
• To help the participants become RESPONSIBLE YOUNG LEADERS who will TAKE THE LEAD in achieving the VMY’s purpose of bringing its members closer to Christ.
• To always remember that: "You can’t GIVE what you don’t HAVE!" You can’t give Christ if you don’t know him personally.
Each day started with a prayer followed by an expectation setting on the first day and an ice-breaker on the second day. The two-day seminar consisted of 11 sessions and some exercises in between that covered the topics from kinds of leadership, communication, teambuilding and conflict resolution. Each participant was given a workbook where activities and exercises were available and used within the seminar to make it more personal, reflective but dynamic at the same time. This allowed the participants to express their thoughts and sentiments about the topics given making it interactive for them. An evaluation was done after the entire activity on the second day.
Note: Below are the materials prepared and used by the facilitator. Feel free to download and use them but we request that a credit be made to him.
The voice of Saint Vincent De Paul always says "Love God brothers, love God and this should always be done with our sweat, with our arms .Because many works of God are in doubt and then there is no real love."
And a vivid testimony of God's word through Saint Vincent is the Service Camp of the VMY Albania-Kosovo, where infinite love works are nurtured in the centers between one another. The heart of this camp lies in the commitment of young people to serve, in cooperation with the Vincentian Sisters and Priests, those who are in the Psychiatric centers, in Caza Mimoza Development center , in the orphanage, sick people on the Saint Mother Teresa's house, and asylum of elders. They were visited in their houses to feel loved , to smile and to have real hope to go forward regardless of their health constraints.
Each of us has its own gift and must make its part in this wonderful adventure that is a Christian life.
We started the day with a prayer space to receive the blessing for the day that awaited us. Then in little groups with an infinite joy we go to the centers with two purposes in mind : To give from ourselves on the basis of the gifts that God has given to us and in the end left them smiling with the desire of welcoming us again next day .
We came to know them, the face of our brothers, exactly the same face of God , and get the most meaningful messages in our life:
- To love God and to love one another.
- To appreciate the family we have, because it was really painful to see those children who used to say "teacher" instead of "mother " "father "
- To thank God for enjoying physical and mental health.
- Without hesitation in daily life , to be alert to those who are disabled, that need help, the children , the elderly, the sick.
Moreover the afternoon had a particular importance starting with formation meetings with important subjects where we came to know ourselves, subjects that touched our hearts and minds , and in this way helping us in our journey.
Worship and Mass were the key to the mobilization of all our feelings and thoughts by making us stronger in our faith, feeling the meeting with God and to be thankful of being His children. Everything was crowned with the visit of the Apostolic Nun who celebrated an extraordinary Mass. And also there were entertainment, passing time together through games and walking in the city of us young people from Kosovo and Albania, seminarian, Sisters and Priests .It was really nice to get new friends from different places, with different formation, united in a single purpose " To serve " .
During this camp we experienced a mix of feelings starting with Love , Humility , Compassion , Fear - would we manage to carry out our mission , Anxiety , Joy , Tears ,and Smile. But we did , and we did it with success. The Vincentian Sisters and Priests were ready for everything that we need , even spiritual conversation, that we also needed.
For every young person who lived this experience , one would consider it as the most beautiful in his/her life and is always willing to return again because even if we gave, we got more from the experience. The prayer is strong for the continuation of this camp , being also thankful to the ideators and for those who helped at first and are still helping us.
Service Camp Shkoder is a work of Evangelism that has to go forward by giving its contribution on the society , making it better , humane , believing and filled with love. .
By: Ornela Leka
By: Vinícius Augusto Teixeira, CM Province of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
On July 2nd, 2016 (within the context of the XLII General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission), Father Tomaž Mavrič,
in his first homily, invited us to rediscover and develop the mystical dimension of our charism … thus, following the inspiration of Saint Vincent, the mystic of charity. This invitation was repeated in Father’s first circular letter (September 19, 2016), published on the occasion of the feast of our founder. In that letter, each one of us was requested to respond personally to the question: why and how I can describe Vincent as a Mystic of Charity. We know that some of those who are knowledgeable in Vincentian spirituality and history have done this very expertly. This was very clear in the circular letter as Father General asked three Missionaries to share their insights on this matter: Fathers H. O’Donnell, R. Maloney and T. McKenna. At the same time we are grateful for the writings and work of L. Aberlly, H. Brémond, A. Dodin and J.M. Ibáñez. In addition to them (who now rest in peace) we could add the names of many others: A. Orcajo, G. Toscani, L. Mezzadri, J.P. Renouard, G. Grossi, etc. We are indebted to these experts for their insights … we are indebted to them because with reverence and passion they probed the heart of St. Vincent and have given us the intuitions of this mystic, intuitions that are capable of quenching our thirst, capable of impelling our search for God and capable of making fruitful our charity and our mission with the poor.
No matter how significant and relevant the contributions offered by this illustrious group of historians, the question about Vincentian mysticism remains valid and the task of recreating it has not lost any of its urgency. The celebration of the 400th anniversary of the concretization of the charism (2017) should be seen as an appropriate time to ask the question anew and resume the task … thus making this an opportune moment for the spiritual and apostolic revitalization of the whole Family that
is nourished by this Vincentian mysticism. In fact, this mysticism enflames the charism received and transmitted by Vincent de Paul, makes it dynamic, attractive, and capable of faithful and bold recreations. This dynamic occurs within the different situations and contexts in which we, members of the Vincentian Family, are challenged by the cries of the poor, the calls of the Church and the signs of the times. Without a renewed mysticism that is nourished by a profound experience of God, the
Vincentian charism and the mission that originates from it would lack principle, vitality and a prophetic dimension … it would be like a house built on unstable and sandy terrain.
1. Mystics: a mystery of grace and freedom
In what sense can someone be viewed as a mystic? There are many possible answers to this question. No one denies the fact that there are some characteristics that will define a mystical person or an individual gifted with a lively interior life, an individual with deep convictions, enlightened by high ideals and guided by a correct conscience … all of which is expressed in a balanced personality, a coherent and persevering praxis and a constant moral fiber. From a Christian perspective, all mystics are distinguished by their awareness of God’s mysteries, their passionate identification with Jesus Christ and their docility to the movement of the Spirit. From this perspective, mystics are those persons who recognize the fact they have been caught up in and surrounded by an incredible Love to which they commit themselves. At the same time, this Love clarifies their understanding, mobilizes their will and engages their freedom. This Love is not to be confused with some cosmic force, with some fleeting sentiment or some abstract concept. This personal Love is God (cf. 1 John 4:8, 16) who offers him/herself to others as gift and is the source of true meaning, thus providing the human person with an all-encompassing grace and the inexpressible joy of experiencing, embracing and affirming that gift … without ever exhausting that gift. The experience of God, the acceptance of God’s love and the knowledge of God’s mystery are developed through the following of Jesus Christ and through the reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Christian mysticism is not simply an interior reality or some form of emotional rapture … nor does it demand supernatural phenomenon to verify its authenticity and efficacy. The depth of the mystic is proven by the manner in which he/she practices the theological virtues: a confident faith, a dynamic hope and a self-sacrificing love. In other words, even though the mystics experience this gift crying out in the very depths of their being, nevertheless, mystics produce and offer to others the fruits of their experience and they do this in their daily life, in their interpersonal relationships, in ethical behavior, in the transparency of their words, in their generous commitment, in their convincing witness and in their convictions about the truth. Therefore, mysticism is the mystery of grace and freedom, the mystery of gift and commitment, a gift that is offered and accepted … a gift in which the Lord’s initiative is united to human persons who totally surrender themselves to God who bestows upon them this gift.
2. Vincent de Paul: a true mystic
As we reflect on Vincent’s life, we find sketched out for us a multi-faceted mysticism that was rooted in a profound experience of God and an enfleshment of the spirit of Jesus Christ … both of which were nourished by a gradual process of conversion and tested by an unwavering fidelity to service on behalf of the poor. Vincent walked along the paths of God because God first walked amid the paths of Vincent’s life, enlightened that path, animated Vincent’s steps, corrected his detours, pointed our new
directions and thus, transformed this once ambitious and restless man into an instrument of his immense, paternal charity, which is intended to be established and to expand in souls(1). The interior understanding of this mystery oriented the mystic Vincent de Paul and formed within him a heart that enabled him to be moved by the misery that surrounded him and to discern the callings of Providence in every encounter and challenge that life presented him. That is what occurred, for example, in GannesFolleville (January 1617) when he encountered the poor dying man who desired peace … a peace that only God’s forgiveness could bestow upon him. That encounter made Vincent aware of the spiritual abandonment of the country people. Faith enabled Vincent to perceive the call to commit his life to the mission of evangelizing the poor … gathering around him other priests who were concerned about that same situation. In Châtillon-les-Dombes (August 1617) Vincent discovered another aspect of human deprivation in the encounter with a family that had been debilitated by illness and by the inability to
satisfy their most basic survival needs. Challenged by such destitution and moved by the spontaneous generosity of so many people, Vincent heard the Lord’s call to form a compassionate and organized charitable outreach. We also mention here Vincent’s encounter with the zealous bishop of Beauvais (1628) and the challenge of doing something to remedy the immoral and ignorant situation in which so many ecclesiastics found themselves. This encounter impelled Vincent along unknown paths that would lead to a reform of the clergy (a reform whose efficacy would be felt in a not too distant future). Through a contemplative reading of events and then, in response to the challenges and the calls that those situations presented … in all of this we can discover the heroic faith of Vincent de Paul and we also discover the exuberance of his mysticism.
There is no doubt that in the person of Vincent de Paul we encounter an authentic mystic, a competent spiritual master, a contemplative in action and prayer, one who was able to recognize and affirm the movement of Divine Providence in his life and in history. Then, as suggested in the Thomist tradition, Vincent communicated to others that which he contemplated (contemplate allis trader). The charitable work of this man who was able to put aside his own needs and who committed himself to service of others gave a dynamic to his relationship with God. Vincent’s apostolic zeal flowed from a life that was strengthened and made fruitful by the Spirit (like a plant that produces fruit because of its solid roots). Everything that Vincent did was like a ray of sunlight that enlightened him from the depths of his interior. Vincent’s relationship with the Lord, a relationship that grounded his convictions, his commitment and his integrity became the source of his insightful activity, his bold charity and his missionary zeal. His mysticism, a mysticism of open eyes, gave rise to the strength of his prophecy. In
the silence of his prayer, Vincent outlined his art of forming and transforming. Here we recall the words of Pope Francis who reminded us that without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty. Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence (Evangelii Gaudium, #259). Transfigured by the presence of God, the life of Vincent de Paul became a reflection of Jesus’ active compassion toward the poor. It was in the poor that Vincent was able to contemplate and experience the image of his Lord and Master. It was also the poor who touched Vincent’s conscience and heart which expanded and became more enlightened by Grace. Vincent’s first biographer has preserved the following words of this mystic: One cannot hope for much from someone who does not continually converse with God. Further, if someone does not serve the Lord as he/she should, it is because such a person is not attached enough to God and has not asked for his grace with perfect confidence. (2)
In reality, Vincent’s mysticism is revealed in his continued insistence with regard to the indispensable value of the spiritual life. On one occasion, as Vincent attempted to help an austere and dedicated Missionary in a process of discernment about joining the Carthusians, he stated: the apostolic life does not exclude contemplation, but encompasses it and profits by it to know better the eternal truths it must proclaim (CCD:III:344). On another occasion, Vincent revealed his convictions about the
need for the Missionaries to cultivate the contemplative dimension of their vocation. He exhorted his followers to be faithful to the practice of prayer: Give me a man of prayer, and he’ll be able to do anything; he can say with the holy Apostle, “I can do all things in him who sustains and comforts me.” The Congregation of the Mission will survive as long as it is faithful to the practice of meditation because meditation is like an impregnable rampart, which will protect the Missioners against all sorts of attacks (CCD:XI:76). At the conclusion of a repetition of prayer, Vincent spoke even more forcefully when he stated: let all of us really devote ourselves to this practice of meditation, since through it all good things come to us. If we persevere in our vocation, it is thanks to meditation; if we succeed in our works, it is thanks to meditation; if we do not fall into sin, it is thanks to meditation; if we remain in charity, if we are saved, all that is thanks to God and to meditation. Just as God refuses nothing in meditation, so he grants almost nothing without meditation … so then, let us ask God very humbly to help us to adopt this
practice (CCD:XI:361). Only authentic mystics can speak about the proper place of prayer and speak about it as an exercise that disposes people to receive from the Lord those gifts that will make their life more fruitful and their apostolic ministry, more perfect. When speaking to the Daughters of Charity, who are called to be other Saint Theresa’s, our Founder assured them that meditation is so excellent that we can never meditate too much and because we experience the presence of God when we
meditate, the more we meditate, the more we will want to meditate (cf. CCD:IX:325). Furthermore, Vincent also stated: it is impossible for a Daughter of Charity to live without prayer (CCD:X:468).
If it were not for the intense spiritual life that impregnated the daily life of Monsieur Vincent and inspired his incredible activity, we would not know this bold evangelizer and servant of the poor who almost totally changed the face of the Church and of the society of his era and who became known to future generations as the saint of charity and of the mission. We, like H. Brémond, have no hesitation in affirming the fact that Vincent’s holiness was translated into authentic and effective charity. We might add, however, that Vincent’s charity (accepted in faith and manifested in his service) should be viewed as the fundamental impulse of his holiness. If, on the one hand, it was not the poor who gave Vincent to God, but God who gave Vincent to the poor, then, on the other hand, it was the poor (cherished in Vincent’s heart and ministry) who opened the path that enabled Vincent to encounter the God of his life and his vocation and who enabled Vincent to allow himself to be guided by he sentiments and the attitudes of Jesus Christ, thus clothing himself in the very spirit of Jesus Christ. As he stated on many different occasions when speaking with his confreres: What an important matter it is to clothe ourselves with the Spirit of Jesus Christ! This means that to grow in holiness, to be useful in helping people, and to serve the clergy well, we have to work at imitating the perfection of Jesus Christ and to strive to attain it. It also means that, of ourselves, we can do nothing in this matter. We must be filled and animated with this spirit of Jesus Christ (CCD:XII:93).
Vincentian mysticism, holiness, charity and mission demand a certain mutuality because all things proceed from the heart of the Father, find a permanent point of reference in Christ and are nourished by the creative power of the Spirit. In his advice to a young Missionary who had been appointed superior of a seminary, Vincent stated: you must empty yourself of self in order to clothe yourself with Jesus Christ (CCD:XI:311). Vincent then spoke about fidelity to prayer as an indispensable means to become clothed in the spirit of Christ: Something important to which you must faithfully devote yourself is to be closely united with Our Lord in meditation; that the reservoir where you will find the instructions you need to carry out the ministry that you are going to have (CCD:XI:311). To live and to act in accord with the spirit of Christ was the secret of Vincent’s life and it was that which also revitalized his mysticism. That is the experience that Vincent wants to communicate to us.
3. A lived and shared mysticism
Vincent’s mysticism is revealed in his faith-filled words and his merciful activity. Words and actions flowed from his heart that had been made fruitful by Grace. On a certain occasion a priest of the Mission stated to another confrere: I can’t tell you with what enthusiasm and abundance of the Spirit of God that was said, and with what fire and forcefulness; all I can say is that my heart was so overwhelmed and contented by it (CCD:XI:107). In order to understand the power of persuasion with regard to the words of our Founder, a power that was able to fill the hearts of his followers with joy, we have no better testimony than that of Brother Ducournau, his faithful secretary: Even if M. Vincent speaks on something ordinary, everyone still knows that he does it with extraordinary force; for his eloquence and the grace animating him cause him to treat the most insignificant topics with such devotion that he always imparts this to his listeners, imprinting on their souls respect and reverence for all that concerns God and love for the Rules and practices of the house. That is why each individual is very attentive when he speaks, many are delighted to listen to him, and those who are absent often ask what he said, expressing their regret at not having been present for it ... what persons speak of these things as he does with such discernment, efficacity, and love, spontaneously and unostentatiously? ... he is the leader chosen by God to breathe spirit and life into the members of the Company (CCD:XI:xxix, xxx). The words of the saint, more than any other rhetorical device, flowed from his heart that was enflamed by zeal … his words were an expression of a true mystic, enflamed by the charity of Christ.
Vincent’s words were convincing and created a sense of enthusiasm in others because they arose from convictions that were accepted in faith and practiced on a daily basis. We have an example of this in the missionary passion that Vincent often communicated to his followers and that was revealed in his own ministry. In his 70’s, Vincent wrote to a loyal collaborator who had a position of leadership in the Confraternities of Charity and stated: I am going to continue the mission of Sevran, four
leagues from here, as I have announced. I doubt if I can leave it on Friday to go to the meeting. Please make my excuses to the Assembly, Madame. I think I would offend God if I did not do all in my power for the poor country people on the occasion of this Jubilee (CCD:IV:561). When the aches and pains of oldage afflicted him, Vincent was dismayed by his inability to give missions in some of the abandoned towns and villages. There was nothing more important or more satisfying than to dedicate his life, together with the other priests and brothers of the Congregation, to the task of evangelizing the poor: But woe to us also if we become lax in carrying out the obligations we have to help poor souls! For we have given ourselves to God for that purpose and God is counting on us (CCD:XI:122). Then revealing the depths of his apostolic zeal, Vincent concluded by saying: As for me, despite my age, before God I don't feel excused from the obligation I have to work for the salvation of those poor people; for what could prevent me from doing so? If I couldn't preach every day, I’d do it twice a week! If I couldn't give long
sermons, I'd try to give short ones; if, again, people didn't understand me at those short ones, what would prevent me from speaking plainly and simply to those good people in the way I’m speaking to you right now, gathering them around me, as you are? (CCD:XI:123). Word and action in perfect harmony … such was the fruit of a firmly rooted mystic who never became caught up in abstract thinking or speculative reflection, who never separated or opposed intense contemplation to effective action … never separated or opposed spiritual depth to practical activity.
Few missionaries knew how to be a mystic like Vincent de Paul, just as few mystics became as active as the prophet of charity and of the mission. Vincent’s concept of a missionary was in fact an image of his own spiritual profile: a Missioner --- a true Missioner --- is a man of God, a man who has the Spirit of God (CCD:XI:191). By way of conclusion, we cite here the wonderful prayer that arose from the mystical heart of our Founder as he spoke to the Missionaries: O my God! Grant me the grace of having your holy love imprinted very clearly on my heart, and that it may be the life of my life and the soul of my actions, so that, being apparent outside of me, it may also enter and work in the souls with whom I come in contact (CCD:XII:215). Thus, we come to a deeper understanding of Vincent’s life. The source of his mysticism was this continual movement of love … a love that was etched in the very depths of his heart, a love that became contagious in all those persons who encountered him, a love that above all else clothed the nakedness of the poor and of those who were suffering, a love that dried the tears of the
mournful and thus diminished their pain, a love that restored hope and gave people the surety that they had been chosen by God to become rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him (James 2:5).
(1) Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conference, Documents, translators: Helen Marie Law, DC (Vol. 1), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 1- 13b), James King, CM (Vol. 1-2), Francis Germovnik, CM (Vol. 1-8, 13a-13b [Latin]), Esther Cavanagh, DC (Vol. 2), Ann Mary Dougherty, DC (Vol. 12); Evelyne Franc, DC (Vol. 13a-13b), Thomas Davitt, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Glennon E. Figge, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), John G. Nugent, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Andrew Spellman, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]); edited: Jacqueline Kilar, DC (Vol. 1-2), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 2-13b), Julia Denton, DC [editor-in-chief] (Vol. 3-10, 13a-13b), Paule Freeburg, DC (Vol. 3), Mirian Hamway, DC (Vol. 3), Elinor Hartman, DC (Vol. 4-10, 13a-13b), Ellen Van Zandt, DC (Vol. 9-13b), Ann Mary Dougherty (Vol. 11-12); annotated: John W. Carven, CM (Vol. 1-13b); New City Press, Brooklyn and Hyde Park, 1985-2009, volume XII, p. 214. Future references to this work will be inserted into the text using the initials [CCD], followed by the volume number, followed by the page number, for example, CCD:XII:214.
(2) Louis Abelly, The Life of the Venerable Servant of God Vincent de Paul: Founder and First Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, 3 vol., edited by John E. Rybolt, CM, translated by William Quinn, FSC, notes by Edward R. Udovic, CM and John E. Rybolt, CM, introduction by Stafford Poole, CM, New City Press, New Rochelle, New York, 1993, volume III, p. 56.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM
July 18, 2017
Madrid - Spain
Dear VMY friends,
“Let us give life to the Vincentian charism”
Another year and with great joy, we celebrate once again the request of our Mother to Catherine Labouré to form the Association. Yes, we are a desire of the Virgin Mary and we are celebrating at this moment what happened on July 18, 1830. We are an expressed longing of our Mother and now more than ever, this longing must be present. As her children, we are called to imitate her service and availability in the establishment of the Kingdom of her son Jesus on earth, and just how she said with that firm YES!, we must also say Here I am! ... to do Your will.
As an international association, we face several challenges that I will describe below, as during the coming years, the International Council together with the members of the International Secretariat of VMY will be ready to comply, saying in a loud voice that "Here I am. I am available and ready to serve!”.
1. Collaboration with the International VMY. In our journey we are not alone. Thousands of young people all over world are walking together with other groups in each of their countries. The international nature of our Association teaches us that being Marian-Vincentian is a shared path. Since its inception, our Association relies on each National Council, on the Fathers of the Congregation of the Mission and on the Daughters of Charity. A few years ago we started a project with the objective to be more economically independent, a self-financing project that was welcomed by many countries and partners. But we still have a long way to go. Therefore in the coming months, the International Council will communicate with each National Council asking to go back to the plan that will allow us to continue our path of economic independence, making use of the Final Document of the GA in Salamanca 2015.
2. Review of the International Statutes. As requested in our General Assembly 2015 in Salamanca, the Council will begin the process of reviewing the International Statutes. For this, in the same way, we count in the participation of each and every member of the Association. Between us we will define what we want to reflect in our statutes and what we want to revise from them. Therefore, we will communicate with you through a questionnaire where we will ask you to state your concerns and inquiries.
3. "Here I am!": will be the theme for the year 2018. As we know, it is a phrase that leads us to act like our Mother. We are many and to know where we are, what we do, we share our joy and Vincentian-Marian service with the others and we make ourselves known. Vincentian Marian Youth, where are you? What is your location? Let us know where you are by saying ... Here I am!
Finally, we continue "Giving life to the Vincencian Charism". We are ready to meet as members of the Vincentian Family at the Symposium with Pope Francis in October in Rome, and from there we will say, "Here we are!" regaining energy from the family to continue our service.
May the Lord continue to renew and motivate our Association, always bearing in mind that our strength is the Lord, and that we may receive many graces through the rays of Our Mother.
VMY, where are you?... Here I am! Happy Anniversary!
To Jesus with Mary,
Yancarlos de Jesús Carrasco de los Santos
VMY International President
May is a considered as a very important Marian month in the Philippines. "Flores de Mayo" or Flowers of May is a feast of offering flowers to the Virgin Mary as a sign of devotion. This celebration lasts for the entire month of May. To culminate this devotion, another traditional activity called the Santacruzan is being held usually when the month is about to end, preferably on the 30th of May.
The Santacruzan (Spanish: Santa Cruz or Holy Cross) is a ritual pageant held on the last day of the Flores de Mayo. It acts out the finding of the True Cross (part of the cross where Jesus was crucified) by Helena of Constantinople (known as the Reyna Elena) and Constantine the Great, her son. This event is being commemorated by the Filipinos all over the world.
VMY Greece, composed of Filipino members living in the country, did not miss the chance to connect with their Christian and Filipino roots by celebrating the Santacruzan. Although this deeply religious event is becoming a vain pageantry showcasing the beauty and physical appearance of the participating young ladies, the group decided to celebrate the occasion last May 28 in the simplest and truest form with the objective of truly understanding the essence of the event.