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About this commemoration
When called to hear the confession of a dying man, Vincent was shocked by the spiritual naiveté of the penitent. In response, Vincent preached sermons on confession in the village chapel of Folleville, calling people to the necessity of repentance. So persuasive were his sermons, that villagers stood in line to go to confession. Vincent had underestimated their spiritual hunger. In 1626, Vincent and three priests pledged to “aggregate and associate to ourselves and to live together as a Congregation … and to devote ourselves to the salvation of the people.”
Vincent devoted great energy to conducting retreats for clergy because of the widespread deficiencies in theological education and priestly formation. He was a pioneer in the renewal of theological education and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.
For Vincent, charity was a predominant virtue that was to be extended to all. He established charitable confraternities to serve the spiritual and physical needs of the poor and sick. He called upon the women of means in Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects particularly hospitals to serve the poor.
Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been “hard and repulsive, rough and cross.” But he became tender and affectionate, very sensitive to the needs of others. He had an extraordinary capacity to connect with all types of people and to move them to be empowered by the gospel of Jesus. In the midst of the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility.
At Vincent’s funeral, the preacher declared that Vincent had just about “transformed the face of the Church.” “The Apostle of Charity” breathed his last in Paris, on September 27, 1660, at the age of eighty. He is honored in the tradition as the patron saint of charitable causes.
Loving God, we offer thanks for thy servant Vincent de Paul, who gave himself to training clergy to work among the poor and provided many institutions to aid the sick, orphans and prisoners. May we, like him, encounter Christ in the needy, the outcast and the friendless, that we may come at length into thy kingdom where thou reignest, one God, holy and undivided Trinity, for ever and ever. Amen.
Loving God, we thank you for your servant Vincent de Paul, who gave himself to training clergy to work among the poor and provided many institutions to aid the sick, orphans and prisoners. May we, like him, encounter Christ in the needy, the outcast and the friendless, that we may come at length into your kingdom where you reign, one God, holy and undivided Trinity, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 1:26–31
Preface of BaptismPreface of God the Holy Spirit
Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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