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Saint Vincent de Paul and the Spirit of Compassion


All rivers go to the sea, yet never does the sea become full.” ~ Ecclesiastes 1:7

We encounter an interesting departure from the Book of Proverbs in today’s Daily Reading as we instead pull from Ecclesiastes ~ 1:2-11 to be precise ~ in what at first glance might appear to be a rather dour and pessimistic passage.

“Vanity of vanities, All things are vanity!”

“What profit has man from all the labor
which he toils at under the sun?”

“One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays.”

You get the idea.

But on a day when the Catholic Church celebrates one of its true selfless servants, the great Saint Vincent de Paul, we are challenged to instead reflect upon this passage while contemplating that which is truly meaningful and lasting in our lives. That which matters.

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That which is eternal.

Saint Vincent de Paul along with all the great saints of our church, canonized or otherwise, left an indelible mark on this world. "We should strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings and wretchedness of other people,“ he would often say, “and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit of compassion which is truly the Spirit of God." The Catholic Church in turn created the Saint Vincent de Paul Society as a nod to his impact on our Church and the various communities and constituents it lovingly serves. This is an organization whose mission is rooted in mercy, compassion, tireless service and financial support for the least fortunate members of our society. “Charity,“ Saint Vincent de Paul concluded, “is the cement which binds Communities to God and persons to one another.”

The lives of the Saints serve as a benchmark for all of us as we contemplate our own legacy and how we choose to shape it. They show us the very definition of a life well-lived. In the history of the Catholic Church we have never canonized a Saint who was the CEO of a Fortune 100 Company. We have never had a Saint nominated to the Supreme Court. Never once has a Saint had a #1 Top 40 Hit, quarterbacked a team to a Super Bowl Title, or won an Oscar or Pulitzer Prize. Yet they are immortalized for all of eternity for having answered Jesus’ simple but powerful call that Matthew the Apostle answered in the Gospel a week ago. . . . Follow me.

“O God, who for the relief of the poor endowed the Priest Saint Vincent dePaul with apostolic virtues, grant, we pray, that afire with the same spirit, the spirit of compassion, we may love what he loved and out into practice what he taught.” ~ Amen

Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us….

Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us….

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