"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Monsieur Vincent

Today is the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul, who died on this day in 1660. Just last week my wife and I watched the 1948 film "Monsieur Vincent", which is about the life of St. Vincent de Paul. (Clicking on the image above will take you to the Amazon page selling the DVD.) I recommend the film highly. It is understandable why this man is a saint. The entire passion of his life was to serve Jesus by caring for the poor. He saw the dignity of the image of God in every human person, especially in the sick, the weak, the helpless and the poor. His vision of Christ in the poor reminds me of the scene (linked to here) at the end of the film "Schindler's List", where Oskar Schindler finally realizes how valuable every person is in comparison to material goods. Steven Greydanus of Decent Film Guide, has a good review of Monsieur Vincent here.

Serving the poor is an activity in which Christians of all traditions can cooperate. It is easy to think that in our modern era, various social programs have all this covered. But Jesus tells us that in this age, the poor will always be with us. (St. Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8) This is true even in wealthy societies such as our own. And it is especially true when the economy takes a downturn. How we treat the poor is one of the ways that Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats. (See St. Matthew 25) That's because how we treat the poor and the sick and the defenseless shows our heart; it shows whether we love Him whose image they bear.

Addendum: Here are two places to connect with others in serving the poor -- the Society of St. Vincent de Paul [USA], and Catholic Charities [USA].

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