Reflection on the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul

"You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy - the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud."   (St. Vincent de Paul)These words from St. Vincent de Paul ring as true today as they did during his lifetime in the 1600s. Known for his works of charity and selflessness, St. Vincent de Paul remains an example of charity and humility to Christians today. Born in France in April 1581, St. Vincent de Paul came from a peasant family of four brothers and two sisters. De Paul studied humanities and eventually was ordained. Upon traveling to Marseille to claim an inheritance, he was captured by Turkish pirates and sold into slavery. Amazingly, he was able to convert his owner to Christianity and eventually escape, returning home to France and then traveling on to Rome.


St. Vincent de Paul's journey to sainthood may seem easy when first glancing at his biography. He was a student, priest, suffering slave and lived in Rome, the Catholic capital of the world. How could de Paul notreach sainthood? But we must remember that St. Vincent de Paul, like all of us, needed time, patience and prayer to help him realize and act on God's plan for him and his gifts.

Pat McNamara's "There's a Saint for Me!" column on St. Vincent describes him as one who was able to win the favor of many through his charm and common sense. At first, it seems de Paul used these gifts for his own gain, attempting to acquire wealth for himself to make up for his meager upbringing. In fact, it was while de Paul was working as a chaplain to the wealthy that he came to realize his calling: he felt drawn to working with the servants and tenants rather than the upper class landowners. Like all of us, God had to bring St. Vincent to his calling.

As his own words say, it was not until St. Vincent gave up his own pride that he was able to live out the life he was meant to live. St. Vincent began life desiring to gain for himself, but ended up giving of himself instead. We can ask for St. Vincent's aid as we struggle to let go of our own pride, no matter what work we do. Even those serving others can easily fall into the prideful trap; working for individual glory and praise rather than for God's. Let us ask St. Vincent de Paul for his help in bringing us closer to God and each other through humility and love.

St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us!

Grant me your grace, O Jesus, to be, like our holy father Vincent,ever devoted to God, cheerful to alt and constant in myself:simple, upright, humble, ever rejecting honors, riches and comforts,and taking pleasure in nothing but you, O Jesus.Saint Vincent, living in the spirit of Christ, pray for us!