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CAVI Lima - 03IX-2013

Sister Pilar Caycho Vela Daughter of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul

When the Venerable Frederic Ozanam is canonized, it will not be because he founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society or because he was a distinguished professor at the Sorbonne in Paris or because he was an excellent writer it will be because he practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to Gods grace
(Catechism of the Catholic Church 828).

The Church declares people saints not because of their success but because of their holiness. Saints are individuals who took seriously the twofold commandment of love and practiced it to an heroic degree. Indeed, holiness is the perfection of charity.

Frederic Ozanam listened to and adhered to the call to holiness. He sought holiness as a single man, then as a married man, and finally as a father. Frederic understood that union with Jesus Christ depended on our desire and our decision to choose him at every moment of our existence .
Throughout his life he was a man of exceptional piety!

On August 22, 1997 Frederic Ozanam was beatified by John Paul II in Paris within the framework of World Youth Day the Pope solemnly recognized Frederics holiness.

he loved everyone who was deprived he had the same intuition as Saint Vincent: Let us love God, brothers and sisters, let us love God.

Benedict XVI: to young people in Colonia: The saints show us the way to attain happiness, they show us how to be truly human.

The person that we present today lived to the age of 40: he was a young man who lived a holy life as a son, a university student, a professor, a philosopher, a learned man, a husband and a father. He was a man who developed an extraordinary spiritual life and elevated family and conjugal love to a very high degree.

A man who defended the faith with great spiritual vigor. He placed his whole life at the service of the faith, charity, the Church, the poor, science and democracy. a man fully human and fully Christian

a man with an ideal nourished by the gospel.


His friends and the persons closest to him were convinced that he was extraordinary, a saint. Thirty years after the death of Ozanam, Paul Lamanche wrote:

I have not known anyone who had a soul like his except our Lord, Jesus Christ .

There Ozanam discovered his vocation, the path to which Christ called him. He found his road to sanctity. And he followed it with determination.

In the homily during the beatification John Paul II stated: Faithful to this commandment of the Lord, Frdric Ozanam believed in love, the love of God for every individual. He felt himself called to love, giving the example of a great love for God and others.

He went to all those who needed to be loved more than others, those to whom the love of God could not be revealed effectively except through the love of another person.

There Ozanam discovered his vocation, the path to which Christ called him. He found his road to sanctity. And he followed it with determination.

2.- Family heritage

The foundations of Ozanams holiness were established in the midst of his family. He was a member of a very Christian family where he received the gift of faith. His parents taught him to love God and to serve the poor. He himself affirmed that he received his Christian formation from his mother.

His mother was a devout Christian whose faith was tried by misfortune. Together with her husband, she engaged in a life of work that was sanctified by prayer and the practice of virtue.

Frederic and his siblings learned about Gods greatness and gentleness, about prayer and the practice of virtue from their mother every evening the family prayed together

One of the highlights that marked his life was the celebration of his first Communion on May 11, 1826 when he was thirteen.

The resolutions that he made on that day helped him to change. He became more industrious and obedient, even though he said: I became more scrupulous.

a.-His first doubts with regard to his faith

At the age of 15 he entered his first existential crisis. It was the stage in which he abandoned his childhood beliefs in order to embrace the faith of an adult.

This produced a turn-around that sent his human existence whirling. But with some suffering he confronted this situation with confidence. He wrote: my confessor tells me that this form of temptation occurs frequently in a person of my age. As Frederic passed through this dark night he remained bound to his faith and continued to develop a sacramental spirituality.

At the age of 17 and with the help of Fr. Noirot, he resolved his crisis of faith and made a vow to God to consecrate his life to the DEFENSE OF THE TRUTH which brought him peace.

Salvation and stability came to him through Father Noirot, his spiritual director who gave order and clarity to his ideas until he achieved a state of serenity.

b.-Family life: a blessing from God On June 23, 1841, he was married to Amelie Soulacroix by his brother, Fr. Alphonse Ozanam, in the Church of St. Nizier, in Lyons.

At the birth of his daughter on July 24, 1845 he lived hours of fullness and in an explosion of joy he said:

.I am a father, a guardian, a trustee of an immortal creature who has a soul made for God and for eternity!

In the autumn of 1843 he entered into a significant stage of his spiritual development, one of conversion and purification.

He wanted to help his wife grow in perfection and from Paris he wrote her a beautiful letter:

I have not used well your favors or your graces, instead of loving in my life the One who gave you to me I have sought only myself in you

c.-The practice of piety and his life of prayer


From his wife we have the following testimony:

Despite his grave illness he never put aside his time of prayer. I have never seen him go to bed at night or rise in the morning without making the sign of the cross. In the morning he reads the Bible in Greek and meditates for half an hour During the last days of his life he attended Mass on a daily basis and found support and consolation in doing this. Before beginning his classes he asked God for the grace to do nothing to obtain applause but to do everything for the glory of God and the service of the truth.

In October, 1853, a friend, A Dufieux, said of him:

How mature for heaven I knew him from the time he was 19 I saw him practice so many virtues! How good and patient and pleasing to everyone! The glory of God and dedication to his friends were his primary concerns

3. His love for the Catholic Church

Frederic could be characterized by his search for the truth. In many of his writings and discourses we see that he was very concerned about the Catholic Church and in the final moments of his life he stated:

I commit my soul to Jesus Christ, my Savior, frightened at my sins but trusting in his infinite mercy I die in the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church. I have known the difficulties of belief of the present age, but my whole life has convinced me that there is neither rest for the mind nor peace for the heart save in the Church and in obedience to her authority.

Frederic Ozanam came to the realization that he was the Church and that he had an active role to play...he loved the Church and served the Church.

His love for the Church led him to become an apologist. Christianity influenced his whole life and he placed his intelligence at the service of his faith. Christian truths were the source and the object of all his writings.

Neither in France nor during our era has anyone loved the Church as Frederic did (Larcordaire, letter from Sorze, April 1855).

It was Frederics faith that led him to act as a defender of the Church and he gave witness to his faith through service.

20 years have passed since my crisis and as I grow in years, that faith has been better realized and has become proportionately dearer to me. I have found its worth in great sorrows and in times of public danger it is full time to write and keep my eighteen year old promise to God

the poor were his gospel and the good news. He believed in an incarnate God who transformed and freed people. Frederics love of Jesus impelled him to serve: whatever you did for one of these least brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me (Mt 25:40). He considered this as a sacred duty and like the apostle John he believed: Those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen cannot love God whom they have not seen?
(1 John 4:20)

4.- The poor, the sacrament and the face of Christ For Ozanam the poor are the place of encounter

. When Frederic was twenty years old he found himself in a different geographical location, but his love for the poor was expressed in organized assistance, in personal and charitable service toward those in need.

His action was framed with a Christocentric gospel foundation and was done in imitation of Saint Vincent

Love your neighbor as yourself(Mt 22:39) and whatever you did for one of these least brothers or sisters of mine you did for me (Mt 25:40).


Filled with love Frederic considered it his sacred duty to love his neighbor in whom he saw God. In one of his discourses he stated: What can we do in order to be true Catholics, but consecrate ourselves to that which is most pleasing to God? Let us assist the poor in the same way as Jesus and let us place our faith under the protective wings of charity. In this Frederic demonstrated that the followers of Jesus must opt for him through their relation with the disinherited, not because of their qualities but simply because they are filled with love and cannot do anything else but love.

The activity of Frederic Ozanam, his charity toward the poor, was indeed an expression of the theological virtue of charity. His supernatural love of the neighbor was an expression of his love of God.

Ozanam wanted to give of himself and through this total donation encountered the image of Christ in the poor.
He became present to the poor through personal, direct and practical contact, uniting spiritual and material charity.

When he spoke about dealing with the poor he continually insisted on personal contact, visits to their homes, dialogue and conversations, becoming aware of their problems and participating in their sorrows and needs

In 1836 Frederic wrote a letter to his friends and spoke about seeing God in the poor: If we do not know how to love God as the saints loved him, that should be without a doubt a reproach to us for it seems necessary to see in order to love and we see God only with the eyes of faith we see the poor with our human eyes; they are there before us and we can put our fingers and hands on their wounds and the scars of the crown of thorns are visible on their foreheads they are our masters and we are their servants. They are the sacred images of God whom we do not see and not knowing how to love God we love Him in the person of the poor.


The charity of Frederic was in accord with the gospel maxim, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. He made clear the difference between charity and philanthropy.

From Paris he wrote:

Charity must never look behind itself, but always ahead, because the number of its past benefits is always very small, and the present and future misery it comforts is infinite.

Like a good disciple of St. Vincent, the charity that filled Frederic and led him to act was something very dynamic.

From the very first meetings of the Conferences he made it very clear how this love should be practiced:
If you want to be useful to the poor dont allow your charity to become a beneficent work rather allow it to become one of Christian moralization sanctify yourselves through contemplation of the suffering Jesus in the person of the poor.

His understanding of Jesus led him to total surrender, absolute trust and profound love.

He handed over his life to the Lord.

One of the signs of Frederics desire to grow in the spiritual life was the fact that he had a spiritual director. Fr. Marduel was a very popular spiritual director and he counseled people from every social class he was the ideal director for Frederic.

Frederic told his mother that Fr. Marduel was the only intimate spiritual advisor that I have, the only one who, in kindness and wisdom, can take the place of father and mother. (Baunard, p. 40).

John Paul II in his homily at the beatification stated: Faced with all the forms of poverty which overwhelm so many men and women, charity is a prophetic sign of the commitment of the Christian in the following of Christ..


It is necessary that all these young people understand that, if they want to be authentic Christians, they must take the same road. May they open wider the eyes of the spirit to the needs of so many people today.

May Christ call them, each one by name, so that each one may say:

This is my path!
Blessed John Paul II

5.- Humility of Frederic

Frederic was a harsh judge of himself. The world thought him great; he thought himself unworthy. He believed he owed his position to hard work and the grace of God.

In imitation of his patron, St. Vincent, Frederic was profoundly humble. He viewed humility as the distinctive virtue of every Vincentian and of the Conferences of St. Vincent, in general.

Even though Frederic was severe toward himself, he was kind toward his neighbor. His heart was tender and filled with compassion toward the poor and the abandoned children of God. (cf. Baunard, P-343)

When he established the Conferences, he told his companion, Le Tallandier, We must do what is most agreeable to God. Therefore, we must do what Our Lord Jesus Christ did when he preached the gospel. The blessing of the poor is the blessing of God. (Baunard p. 65).

To what degree must we love Jesus Christ in the person of the poor? Frederic says: even to martyrdom. The world has grown cold; it is for us Catholics to rekindle the vital fire that has been extinguished.

These words of Frederic remind us of Vincents words: Our vocation is to set the hearts of people afire, to do what the Son of God did when he came to set fire to the earth in order that it might burn with his love.


Frederic states: It is for us to inaugurate the era of martyrs, for it is a martyrdom possible to every Christian. To give ones life for God and for ones brothers, to give ones life in sacrifice, is to be a martyr.

It is indifferent whether the sacrifice be consummated at one moment, or whether slowly consuming, it fills the altar night and day with perfume. To be a martyr is to give back to heaven all that one has received: wealth, life, our whole soul. It is in our power to make this offering, this sacrifice. It is in our power to select the altar at which we shall dedicate it. (Baunard, P-97).


Frederic Ozanam lived his faith. His life was that of a martyr slowly consuming himself. He made the sacrifice and chose his altar.

Let us help each other, dear friend, with advice and example. Let us strive for confidence in grace equal to our defiance of nature

Let us make ourselves strong, for the malady of the age is weakness let us consider that we have lived probably more than a third of our existence by the benefit of others, and must live the remainder for the good of others. Let us do such good as is offered without ever drawing back through false humility. (to Franois Lallier, Oct. 5, 1837).


Suffering was part of his sacrificial offering to God. His fragile health was a daily cross. During his final years he experienced intense pain which he was able to accept with love.

6.- Gods Providence

He saw Gods plan at work in everything and he trusted that God would provide for all creation he believed that God acted in his life and in the life of others.

One of the characteristics of Frederics spirituality was his faith and his trust in Divine Providence.


Frederic wrote to Emmanuel Bailly, the first president of the Conferences: Beyond doubt Providence does not need us for the execution of its merciful designs, but we, we need it and it promises us assistance only on the condition of our efforts carry on the work begun and work for its propagation and consolidation.
(Letter # 135, Oct. 22, 1836).

One year later he wrote: Our little Society of St. Vincent de Paul has grown large enough to be considered a providential fact
(to Francois Lallier, Oct- 5, 1837).

Later he wrote:
My future I leave in the hands of Providence. I shall accept willingly whatever place he will be pleased to assign me, however lowly it may be. It will always be noble if it be filled worthily.
(Baunard, p. 89-90).


Frederic wrote the following beautiful and inspired thoughts about Providence in his marriage
Three years ago when my success as a professor was uncertain, I did not doubt or listen to the promptings of self-interest: I only sought knowledge. I believe it was God who inspired me and made me act with a trust that is foreign to my weak spirit. It was providence that put you in my path and that enabled me to offer to share my poor life with you, a life sanctified and ennobled by the cultivation of everything that is beautiful. Through Providence I have been able to offer you my heart which belongs to no one but you!

he wrote to his wife, Amelia:


7.-Frederic had a great devotion to Mary.

It was his idea to place the Conferences (soon after their establishment) under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin and he also decided to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception. He added the Hail Mary to the prayers that were recited at their weekly meeting. He considered the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fourvire as a special place and it was there at the foot of the altar that he decided to offer himself to God.

8.- Frederic Ozanam and Sister Rosalie Rendu

We could not talk about the life and work of Frederic Ozanam without mentioning Sister Rosalie Rendu who ministered to the poor in the Mouffetard district of Paris.

The providential meeting of these two individuals is most significant for the development of charitable movements in the XIX century.

She was tireless in her search for solutions to the many problems of misery. She was engaged in an on-going effort in which the hours and the ministerial tasks seemed to multiply.

In 1833, Frederic and some other young men had the idea to establish the Conferences and they went to Sister Rosalies house on rue LEpe de Bois and asked her for advice and guidance in order to be messengers of charity.

They were able to rely on the help of this tireless Daughter of Charity who was known for her charitable activity.

Sister Rosalie enabled them to encounter situations of poverty that were so prevalent in Paris during the XIX century. She advised and encouraged the members of the Conference in their growth. As a result of her experience she was able to orient the apostolate of this group.

She rejoiced when she saw the fires of charity growing and spreading!

9.- Frederics birth in heaven

On September 8, 1853, after a prolonged illness, Frederic died in Marseilles. What better conclusion to this simple presentation of Frederics spiritual journey than to meditate on his departure from life, his final act of faith, hope and charity that led him to the eternal light!
His final years were days of physical and moral suffering. This was the time for total surrender, the sacrifice of his great work and the separation from everyone and everything that he loved.

He died very young, but 150 years later his social teaching and his evangelical witness remain relevant:


As the time approached to abandon his house, Frederic again lifted up his voice in a profound and heart-felt prayer: My God, I give you thanks for the afflictions and sufferings which you have sent me in this house; accept them in expiation of my sins. Then turning to his wife: I want you also to praise and bless God for our sufferings. Then taking her in his arms he said: I bless Him for all the consolation which you have given me.

10 .-Conclusion
Frederics spirituality is attractive to humankind.
His spirituality is the fulfillment of the twofold command of Jesus: love God and love the neighbor as self. Frederic, like his patron Vincent de Paul, combined the two commandments into one. Men and women, then, should imitate Jesus (who is love incarnate) and they should serve their sisters and brothers.



Frederic adhered to the famous principle of St. Vincent: Let us love God, let us love God, but let it be with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brows (CCD:XI:32). Frederics dream was to be an apostle and a martyr. In a certain sense during his short life he accomplished his dream of loving service on behalf of humankind (even though his humility would never allow him to admit this). Frederic was an apostle who was sent to alleviate material and spiritual misery.

His life can be summarized in three words: prayer, work and self-sacrifice

Three Christian concepts that Frederic knew how to live and how to communicate to others.

The connection with the Vincentians was close from the beginning of the Society, since it was a Daughter of Charity, Sr. Rosalie Rendu, who guided the young Frdric Ozanam and his companions to the poor

Homily: Mass of Beatification


Frederic Ozanam
April 23, 2013: bicentenary of his birth "We should kneel at the feet of the poor and, with the Apostle, say to them: "You are our masters, we shall be your servants; you are the visible image of God whom we do not see, but whom we love in loving you."



Bibliography 1.-Holiness in Frederic Ozanam

Author: Mara Teresa Candelas, H.C. English translation of the Spanish edition is found in the Vincentian encyclopedia 2.- Ozanam y su Obra Author: Fr. Luis Emilio Holguin Q.,C.M 3.- Federico Ozanam: su piedad y devocin. Taken from the website: Somos Vicencianos.