Skip to comments.July 19, St Vincent de Paul, Confessor (1962 Missal and Kalendar)
Posted on 07/19/2005 11:11:49 AM PDT by Mike Fieschko
Today is the feastday of St Vincent de Paul, another post-Trent or Counter Reformation saint, founder of the Congregation of the Missions, the Congregatio Missionis or Vincentians or Lazarists. Best known for his works of charity and organization of charitable efforts, he also engaged in preaching to the peasants and city-dwellers and training of priests. From breviary.net, here are Lessons iv. v. and vi. from the Divine Office readings for the Feast of St Vincent de Paul and some information about the Saint.
St Vincent de Paul, from www.famvin.org
Vincentius a Paulo, natióne Gallus, Podii non procul ab Aquis Tarbellis in Aquitánia natus, jam tum a púero exímiam in páuperes caritátem præ se tulit. A custódia paterni gregis ad litteras evocatus, humanas Aquis, divinas cum Tolosæ, tum Cæsaraugustæ didicit. Sacerdotio initiátus ac theologíæ laurea insignítus, in Turcas íncidit, qui captivum in Africam abduxérunt. Sed in captivitáte positus herum ipsum Christo rursus lucrifecit. Cum eo ígitur ex bárbaris oris, opitulante Deípara, sese prorípiens, ad apostolica limina iter instituit. Unde in Gálliam reversus, Clippíaci primum, mox Castelliónis parcias sanctíssime rexit. Renuntiátus a rege primarius Sacrórum miníster in Galliæ trirémibus, mirum quo zelo et ducum et rémigum salúti operam posúerit. Monialibus Visitatiónis a sancto Francisco Salesio præpositus, tanta prudéntia per annos circiter quadraginta eam curam sustinuit, ut maxime comprobaverit judícium sanctíssimi præsulis, qui sacerdotem Vincentio digniórem nullum se nosse fatebátur.
Vincent de Paul was a Frenchman by nation, and was born at Pouy, not far from Dax in Gascony. From a little child he shewed remarkable charity towards the poor. His father removed him from keeping the cattle, in order to give him a school education, and he learnt earthly things at Dax, and theology both at Toulouse and at Saragossa. He took Priests' orders, and a degree in Divinity. He was taken prisoner by Mohammedan pirates, who carried him off, and sold him for a slave in Africa. In his slavery he converted his owner, who was an apostate, back to Christ. Under the protection of the Mother of God, Vincent escaped from Barbary. He first visited the thresholds of the Apostles, and afterwards returned to France. He was the saintly Rector first of the parish of Clichy, and afterwards of that of Châtillon. He was appointed by the King, Chaplain-General for the galleys of France, and worked with extraordinary zeal for the health of the souls both of those who commanded and of the convicts who rowed. He was made Superior of the Nuns of the Visitation by St. Francis de Sales, and discharged this duty for about forty years, with a wisdom which so approved itself to the judgement of their holy Founder, that he was used to say he knew no worthier Priest than Vincent.
When he arrived, he did not know how to chant the Office, but 'I listened with admiration to peasants intoning the Psalms, and not missing a single note hereupon I said to myself: you who are their spiritual father are ignorant of all that! I was deeply distressed (Conference 213)' (from Vincentian Paris, Clichy-la-Garonne)the old parish church of Clichy, or Clichy-la-Garonne, where he was rector.
Evangelizandis paupéribus, præsertim rurícolis, ad decrépitam usque ætátem indeféssus incubuit, eique apostolico operi tum se, tum alumnos congregatiónis, quam sub nómine Presbyterórum sæculárium Missiónis instituit, perpetuo voto a sancta Sede confírmato, speciatim obstrinxit. Quantum autem augendæ cleri disciplinæ allaboraverit, testántur erecta majórum clericórum seminaria, collatiónum de divinis inter sacerdótes frequéntia, et sacræ ordinatióni præmittenda exercítia ; ad quæ, sicut et ad pios laicórum secéssus, institúti sui domicília libenter patére vóluit. Insuper, ad amplificandam fidem et pietátem, evangelicos misit operarios, non in solas Galliæ provincias, sed et in Italiam, Polóniam, Scotiam, Hiberniam, atque ad Bárbaros et Indos. Ipse vero, vita functo Ludovíco décimo tertio, cui moriénti hortator ástitit, a regína Anna Austríaca, matre Ludovíci décimi quarti, in sanctius concílium accítus, studiosíssime egit, ut nónnisi digniores ecclésiis ac monastériis præficeréntur ; civiles discordiæ, singularia certamina, serpéntes errores, quos simul sensit et exhorruit, amputaréntur ; débitaque judíciis apostolicis obediéntia præstarétur ab ómnibus.
The preaching of the Gospel to the poor, especially peasants, was the work at which he toiled unweariedly, till he was disabled by age. To this special work he bound himself and the members of the Congregation which he founded under the missionary Congregation of Secular Priests, by a perpetual vow approved by the Holy See. How great were his labours for bettering the discipline of the clergy, is attested by the building of Seminaries for the final education of young clerks, the number of meetings of Priests to discuss holy things, and the religious exercises preparatory to Ordination, for which, as well as for godly retreats by laymen, he wished that the houses belonging to his Institute should be always freely open. To spread wider the growth of faith and godliness, he sent his Gospel labourers not only into the several provinces of France, but also into Italy, Poland, Scotland, and Ireland, and also to Barbary and India. He assisted Louis XIII on his death-bed, and the Queen Anne of Austria, mother of Louis XIV, put him upon the young King's Council of Conscience during the Regency, in which position it was his unceasing effort that none but the most worthy should be named to churches and monasteries, that civil contests, duels, and creeping false doctrines, from which himself shrank as soon as he met them, should be put down, and that all men should yield the obedience which was due to the decisions of the Apostolic See.
Anne of Austria, Queen of France, brother of King Philip IV of Spain, with the future Louis XIV
Nullum fuit calamitátis genus, cui paterne non occúrrerit. Fideles sub Turcárum jugo geméntes, infántes expósitos, júvenes díscolos, vírgines periclitántes, moniáles dispérsas, mulieres lapsas, ad trirémes damnatos, peregrinos infirmos, artífices inválidos, ipsosque mente captos, ac innúmeros mendícos subsidiis et hospitiis etiamnum superstítibus excepit ac pie fovit. Lotharingiam, Campaniam, Picardiam, aliasque regiónes peste, fame, belloque vastatas, prolixe refécit. Plurima ad perquirendos et sublevándos míseros sodalítia fundávit, inter quæ celebris matronárum ctus, et late diffúsa sub nómine Caritátis puellárum socíetas. Puellas quoque tum de Cruce, tum de Providéntia, ac sanctæ Genovéfæ ad sequioris sexus educatiónem erigendas curávit. Hæc inter et alia gravíssima negotia Deo jugiter intentus, cunctis affábilis, ac sibi semper constans, simplex, rectus, húmilis, ab honoribus, divítiis ac deliciis semper abhorruit ; audítus dicere, rem nullam sibi placére, prætérquam in Christo Jesu, quem in ómnibus studebat imitari. Corporis demum afflictatióne, laboribus, senioque attritus, die vigesima septima Septembris, anno salútis supra millesimum sexcentésimo sexagesimo, ætátis suæ octogesimo quinto, Parísiis, in domo sancti Lázari, quæ caput est congregatiónis Missiónis, plácide obdormívit ; quem, virtútibus, meritis ac miraculis clarum, Clemens duodecimus inter Sanctos rétulit, ipsíus celebritáti die décima nona mensis Julii quotannis assignata. Hunc autem divinæ caritátis exímium heróem, de unoquoque hóminum genere optime meritum, Leo tertius décimus, instántibus plúribus Sacrórum antistítibus, ómnium societátum caritátis, in toto catholico orbe exsisténtium et ab eo quomodocúmque promanántium, peculiarem apud Deum patronum declarávit et constituit.
There was no kind of misery which he did not strive with fatherly tenderness to relieve. Christians groaning in Mohammedan slavery, foundlings, deformed children, young maidens xxposed to danger, houseless nuns, fallen women, convicts sent to the galleys, sick foreigners, disabled workmen, lunatics, and beggars without number, all these he relieved, and devoutly housed in divers charitable institutions which remain to this day. When Lorraine, Champagne, Picardy, and other districts were desolated by plague, famine, and war, he made immense efforts for their relief. He founded many charitable societies, to find out and succour the unfortunate. Among these are remarkable that of Matrons, and that of Sisters of Charity which hath been so widely spread. By those Of the Cross, Of Providence, and of St. Guinevere he aimed at bringing up young girls as school-mistresses. Amid all these and other most anxious business-matters, he remained always looking simply to God, kind to all, true to himself, plain, upright, and lowly. From all honours, riches, and pleasures, he ever shrank, and was heard to say, that nothing ever gave him any pleasure, except in Christ Jesus, whom it was his wish in all things to follow. With a body worn out with hardships, work and old age, he gently fell asleep in the house of St. Lazarus at Paris, the chief house of the Congregation of the Missions, upon the 27th day of September, in the year of salvation 1660, and of his own age the 85th. He was famous on account of his life, his works, and his miracles, and Clement XII inscribed his name among those of the Saints, appointing for his Feastday the 19th day of the month of July. Finally, at the earnest prayer of many prelates, Leo XIII proclaimed and established this hero of charity, illustrious for his services to all classes of men, as the patron before God in heaven of all charitable societies throughout the whole Catholic world which derive their origin in any way from his institution.The Catholic Encyclopaedia article on St Vincent de Paul states that by 1625 '[o]f twenty [seminaries] founded not ten had survived'. (That would seem to be in France, and not throughout Europe.) Regarding the Saint's efforts in the training of priests after Trent and its decrees concerning priests' training and the founding of seminaries (the Decree Concerning Reform, specifically Session XXIII, Chapter XVIII: Directions For Establishing Seminaries For Clerics, Especially The Younger Ones; In Their Erection Many Things Are To Be Observed; The Education Of Those To Be Promoted To Cathedral And Major Churches), Theodore Maynard writes:
St Vincent de Paul prayer cardIn general the care of the peasants had been left to their priests, and these only too often considered that they were doing quite enough in attending to their parochial duties; for preaching, virtually none of them had any qualification. Vincent had had it impressed upon him during the time he spent in Madame de Gondi's household that nearly all country districts were badly neglected.
If that was the state of affairs in the country, not much better could be said of the towns. There, the priests at least knew the formula for absolution in the confessional (which, so Vincent had discovered, was not always true of the village cures), but among the lower grade of the city clergy the sacraments were often administered in what can only be described as a rather individualistic style. The truth is that the majority of priests had not been adequately trained for their office, and in some instances did not give good example to their flocks. The trouble was not so much corruption as ignorance, so Vincent came to the conclusion that if the spiritual standard among lay folk was to be raised, the clergy had to be renovated first.
The Holy See was not unaware of these conditions and the Council of Trent had called for the establishment of seminaries. But these could not come into being very quickly, and to make matters worse, many of the bishops were often absent from their dioceses or, because of family influence, were appointed much too young to posts which they were not as yet capable of occupying worthily. It was not to be expected that ordinaries of this type, on whom rested the obligation of putting the decrees of the Holy See into effect, would do much in the way of reform. This had to be carried out, if at all, by organizations devoted to the purpose.
Fortunately a number of such organizations came into existence almost simultaneously in France. Apart from seminaries, there was the scheme initiated by a priest in Paris named Adrian Bourdoise, who thought of founding small communities of secular priests in various places whose object should be the purely practical one of instructing the fledgling clergy how fittingly to administer the sacraments. As he could gather his young men for no more than an hour or two a week, he prescinded altogether from teaching theology and concentrated on showing priests what their parochial duties were. In Vincent's opinion the instructions given were excellent, better in fact than that in some of the few seminaries that were arising, but of course they left a large field of training completely untouched.
The better class of priests studied at a university, where a good ground ing in theology and philosophy could be acquired; the rest went no further than to pick up enough Latin to say Mass, seeking practical direction as to how to administer the sacraments from a handbook or from their own pastors. As these pastors were themselves men who had stumbled into the priesthood by the same route, it may be imagined that the results left much to be desired. But the Oratorians had a seminary of a kind, and St. John Eudes, who saw the immediate needs more clearly than did Berulle, left him to establish a seminary in charge of the group of priests he assembled. Moreover, and best of all, Jean-Jacques Olier founded the Sulpicians, a society of secular priests living in community whose sole work was to be that of conducting seminaries. This it has remained to the present day.
Vincent led the way by starting a seminary at the College des Bons Enfants and at the instance of the Bishop of Paris he arranged to give retreats to the young men who were about to be ordained. This last activity he accepted a little reluctantly, urging that the Congregation of the Missions was for preaching in country districts and could not afford to dissipate its slender resources. "In the beginning," he confessed afterwards, "we did not think at all of serving the clergy; we thought simply of ourselves and the poor." However, after fuming the project over in his mind, he reached the conclusion that by doing something for the clergy, something would be done for the poor as well. So without knowing where the money was coming from, he had to proceed in naked trust in God's providence. This confidence was rewarded when one of his wealthy benefactors came forward with an offer to meet the expenses for the first five years; then Anne of Austria agreed to shoulder the charges for the next five, after which the Ladies of Charity undertook the obligation. Vincent never seems to have lacked for funds in any of his enterprises.
There was another connection between St Vincent de Paul and the Oratorians: when he became curé of St Medard in Clichy, he replaced François Bourgoing, who joined the Oratorians and became their third Superior General in France.
Here are two images showing the Sisters (and the Daughters, in the second) of Charity in their habit.
The Fourth Conference of Mother Seton's Daughters met at Mount Saint Joseph, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 27-28, 1949. (L-R) Sister Frances de Chantal McKee, S.C. (Halifax); Mother Maria Benedict Monahan, S.C. (Greensburg);, Sister Isabel Toohey, D.C. (Emmitsburg); Sister Catherine Sullivan, D.C. (Saint Louis); Mother Mary Zoé Farrell, S.C. (Cincinnati); Sister Ellen Marie McCauley, S.C. (New Jersey); and Mother Mary Berchmans Reed S.C. (New York).
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