Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Christian Heritage - September 27 & 28

The Service of the Poor is to Be Preferred to All Else - September 27

"The service of the poor is to be preferred to all else, and to be performed without delay. If at a time set aside for prayer, medicine or help has to be brought to some poor man, go and do what has to be done with an easy mind, offering it up to God as a prayer. Do not be put out by uneasiness or a sense of sin because of prayers interrupted by the service of the poor: for God is not neglected if prayers are put aside, if God's work is interrupted in order that another such work may be completed.

"Therefore, when you leave prayer to help some poor man, remember this — that the work has been done for God. Charity takes precedence over any rules, everything ought to tend to it above all; since it is itself a great lady, what it orders should be carried out. Let us show our service to the poor, then, with renewed ardor in our hearts, seeking out above all any abandoned people, since they are given to us as lords and patrons."

Vincent de Paul (AD 1580-1660), Letter 2546

St. Vincent worked with prisoners and peasants. He founded the Congregation of the Mission and the Society of Saint Vincent as well as the Daughters of Charity with Saint Louise de Marillac.

He was the patron saint of the hospital in which I was born and enjoyed more than one trip to the ER. His work is truly one of the gems of the Counter-Reformation.

The Martyrs Suffered in Jesus' Presence - September 28

"The martyrs found themselves hard-pressed, beset by danger from violent storms of hatred in this world, a danger not so much to their bodies which, after all, they would have to part with sometime, but rather to their faith. If they were to give way, if they should succumb either to the harsh tortures of their persecutors or to love of this present life, they would forfeit the reward promised them by the God who had taken away all ground for fear. Not only had he said: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; he had also left them his own example. The precept he had enjoined on them he personally carried out, without attempting to evade the hands of those who scourged him, the blows of those who struck him, or the spittle of those who spat on him. Neither the crown of thorns pressed into his head nor the cross to which the soldiers nailed him encountered any resistance from him. None of these torments did he try to avoid. Though he himself was under no obligation to suffer them, he endured them for those who were, making his own person a remedy for the sick. And so the martyrs suffered, but they would certainly have failed the test without the presence of him who said: Know that I am with you always, until the end of time."

Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430), Expositions of the Psalms 69, 1: CCL 39, 930-931

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