When he was young, St. Vincent Depaul wanted nothing more than to escape the poverty he was born in. From middle age on, he wanted nothing than to “be for God and for the poor,” seeking out the poor in the streets of Paris.
Explaining why the Sisters of Charity, that he cofounded with St. Louise de Marillac, should not be enclosed in a cloister, he reminded them that they should leave God for God – seeing in the streets of the city their cloister.
When you leave your prayer to care for a sick person, you leave God for God. To care for a sick person is to pray.
According to his own words he was not an easy man to get along with, but he inspired and led many to go beyond themselves to care for the poor.
He saw the importance of evangelizing the poor, going out to where they are to serve them with the Word of God and the sacraments as well as to care for their needs.
Today’s Mass prayer in Spanish beautifully sums up his way to God and gives us a challenge to follow Christ, as he did:
You bestowed on Saint Vincent de Paul
an immense compassion for the poor
and a great concern for the formation of priests
who would dedicate their lives to those most in need.
Grant us, by his intercession,
to share, in so far as we are enabled,
in his evangelical commitment
to the good of the poor of Christ.