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Year of Mercy

December 8, 2015
November 20, 2016
Seeing the great need for mercy and healing in the
world, Pope Francis called for the Year of Mercya
special period, a Jubilee Year, for the Catholic Church.

Photo: Pope Francis at Vargihna" by Tnia Rgo/ABr - Agncia Brasil. Creative Commons

It is a time for us to focus


on mercy, forgiveness, and
healing in a special way.
We, as Vincentians, can
and must be witnesses of
mercy.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Bartolom Esteban Murillo (16171682)

Mercy was the


motivating factor
behind all of Saint
Vincent de Pauls
charitable activity.

In reflecting on Vincent
de Paul and mercy, let us
use the imagery of the
Holy Door, one of the
most powerful signs of
the Jubilee.

Photo by daryl_mitchell from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada,


via Wikimedia Commons

Every Christian is called to pass


through the door from sin to grace.
Every believer is responsible to
cross its threshold. We are free to
choose it. It requires the courage
to leave something behind, in
order to gain divine life.

What doors did St. Vincent


and his collaborators
choose to open?

St. Vincent, together with the


Ladies of Charity, rescued
babies who were abandoned
at church doors or at the
entrances to hospitals; the
Daughters of Charity helped
raise and educate them
Why? out of mercy since society
considered them as children of sin,
children of adultery, of rape;
unplanned, unwanted

The Daughters of Charity


carried the soup pot through
the city, and cared for sick
prisoners who sometimes
became violent towards them

Why? out of mercy if there was violence,


it was because they were suffering

Vincent visited the galleys and


showed great zeal in preaching
missionary style to the
prisoners, who were as
distanced from God as they
were abandoned by men.
Why? out of mercy to take the side of
those who were living in misery

The Confraternities of Charity,


composed of women, were set up in
the places where Vincents priests
gave missions. They assisted the sick
poor by doing extremely unpleasant
jobs such as: bloodlettings, which
were thought to cure disease;
preparing and giving enemas;
dressing wounds; changing bed
linens and watching at night over the
sick who were alone and near death
Why? out of mercy,
out of compassion for the sick

Besides these corporal


services, they tried to
contribute to their
spiritual welfare
(CCD:II:600, 602)
Why? out of mercy they clothed
themselves in the spirit of Jesus Christ and
thus revealed the merciful Father in
everything that they did

Our Little Company is


established to go from village to
village at its own expense,
preaching, catechizing, and
having the poor people make
general confessions of their
entire past life. (CCD:I:553)
Why? out of mercy Vincents ministry
revealed what the Son of God did in the
name of the Father in order to reveal the
Father the Father is a good Father, filled
with mercy, one who is profoundly moved
by all his children

Vincent met with Frances


Chief Minister, Cardinal
Richelieu, and asked him
to stop the war.

Why? out of mercy to defend victims of


war, to prevent them from being forgotten
or marginalized

Vincent publicly and radically


opposed the exploitive policies of
Cardinal Mazarin. He crossed battle
lines and forged an overflowing river
in order to see the Queen to ask her
to remove Mazarin from oce. (This
was when Vincent was almost
seventy years old!)
Why did he do this? out of mercy the
people who were suffering did not
deserve to be punished.
To respond with true mercy we must
penetrate the mechanisms that produce
poverty, marginalization and exclusion.

We are unable to go and give


missions in the rural areas because
the poor people are so scattered []
driven from their homes by fear of
being mistreated by the soldiers --so we have decided to give them to
the people who have taken refuge in
Paris. [] One of our men has also
gone to open the mission for the
refugees at Saint-Nicholas-duChardonnet (CCD:IV:398-399)
Why? out of mercy for refugees

Vincent was equally


concerned about looking
for ways to reform the
clergy.
Why? out of mercy for the people
From the time that Madame de Gondi alerted
him about the ignorance of the clergy, he felt a
heavy weight upon his shoulders because to
Vincent, the peoples ignorance and sin were
not always their own fault; he believed that the
people were a reflection of their priest.

Vincent never criticized


those who were poor
but saw them as
victims and therefore
not responsible for
their misery.
Why? out of mercy and in
humility we are all in
need of forgiveness

Vincent promoted the


poor and helped them
become aware of their
dignity, and that they must
be the primary agents of
their own development.
Why? because mercy and
compassion pushed him to go
further beyond their simply
surviving, towards real growth
and transformation

Vincent felt it necessary


to know the reality of the
poor; to experience their
physical condition; to
understand their situation
as human beings.
Why? out of mercy
so that those persons who are
excluded from participation in society
would feel sought after, loved, and
forgiven by God.

Vincents example
leads us into action.

As Vincentians
today,
we must:

respond to all
the needs that
are presented
to us

seek out those who


are the poorest and
most abandoned

move from village to


village as Jesus did,
drawing near to and
arming those who
are poor and infirm

give help in such a


way that the recipients
may gradually be freed
from dependence on
outsiders and become
self-sucient
so they can in turn go and
do likewise to others

Mercy as Christ has presented it in


the parable of the prodigal son has
the interior form of the love that in the
New Testament is called agape. This
love is able to reach down to every
prodigal son, to every human misery,
and above all to every form of moral
misery, to sin. When this happens, the
person who is the object of mercy
does not feel humiliated, but rather
found again and "restored to value"
(John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, #6)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

anyone who enters


will experience the love
of God who consoles,
pardons, and instills
hope (Misericordiae
Vultus, No. 3).
Pope Francis, referring to
the Door of Mercy
Photo: Hijas de la Caridad-Pastoral Vocacional Facebook Page

Let us keep the


spirit of Saint
Vincent de Paul
alive in this
Year of Mercy.

Let us always leave


open the door that
leads to mercy and
hope!

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