Touched By The Masters Hand: Kingdom Adjustments For the Body of Christ

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Here are two rules from God. In this case holy obedience reconciles all and directs you to leave prayer to go and serve the poor. We are leaving God for God if we leave one of our spiritual exercises for the service of the poor. To leave God only for God, that is to say, to leave one work of God to perform another, either of greater obligation or greater merit, is not to leave God.

No spouse has ever regarded his spouse with a more loving eye tant Our Lord regards a Daughter of Charity who faithfully observes her rules. For instance, if it is the good pleasure of God that you should go on a Sunday to help a sick person instead of going to Mass, although that is a matter of obligation, Oh!

That is called leaving God for God. To prefer the service o f the sick poor to all other corporal or spiritual exercises and to have no scruple about leaving all other things for that, provided it is urgent necessity, and not laziness, that inclines us to do so. The service of the poor should be preferred to everything else.

The hour for mental prayer comes round; if you hear the poor calling for you, mortify yourselves and leave God for God, although you should do all in your power not to omit prayer because it is prayer that will keep you united to God, and as long as you are united to God you have noting to fear. Allow yourself to be led by the Lord. He will direct all things through you. Trust him and following his example, always act humbly , gently and in good faith.

As in the morning you speak to God in prayer, so God speaks to you when you read. If you wish your prayer to be heard by God, listen to God when you read. There is no less happiness and profit in listening to God than there is in speaking to him. I strongly recommend you not to fail to do so. To have greater confidence in Him [God] than we do; let us allow Him to steer our little bark [boat]; if its is useful and pleasing to Him, He will save it from shipwreck. Far from being submerged by the multitude and the size of other boats, it will sail along with greater assurance in the midst of all those fine ships provided it keeps straight on the course and does not waste its time crossing over into their path.

And I shall give as an example a dear lady named Madame Pavillon who for many long years was a source of admiration in her parish. It seems that she walked and carried herself as if she were visibly in the presence of God; she seemed almost insensible to everything, sin excepted. She let herself be trampled on rather than be diverted from the presence of God.

That, my daughters, is the way to behave reverently in church and, principally, during Holy Mass. What then is the spirit of the Daughters of Charity. Is it not natural for children to love their father? And that you may understand what exactly this love is, you should know that it is exercised in two different ways, one affective, the other effective. On the third point, she noted that one means of acquiring and, indeed, of increasing the love of God is the reception of the holy Sacraments, especially the Blessed Eucharist.

Love is creative even to infinity. They refer to the institution of the Eucharist. He feared that in his absence their hearts would grow cold. And so, he tells the brother, since love is creative even to infinity … he instituted this venerable sacrament which serves as food and drink for us … Because love is eager to do everything it can, he so willed it. Another Sister said that we may see whether we love God if we are grieved at offending Him, if we like to speak of Him and, finally, if in all our actions we have no other intention than that of pleasing Him, especially in regard to all those matters that concern the service we owe our neighbor, who is the image of God.

Let us love God. So very often many acts of love of God, of complacency, of benevolence, and such interior affection and practices, although very good and very desirable, are nevertheless to be suspected if they do not reach the practice of effective love. Let us serve with hearts filled with the pure love of God which enables us always to love the roses amidst the thorns.

It is not enough for me to love God if my neighbor does not love Him. O my God, why am I unable to reveal to the world the beauty which You have shown me as well as the dignity of the Blessed Virgin? Everything is comprised in her title of Mother of the Son of God. How admirable are her deeds!

With good reason the Church addresses her as the Mother of Mercy because she is also the Mother of Grace. Louise de Marillac, A 14b.

Scripture Reading – The Paralytic Healed

First, in the rules he left to his Congregation was this one. He regarded it as one of the main ones, and he often commended it to his confreres: Meekness makes us not only excuse the affronts and injustices we receive, but even inclines us to treat with gentleness those from whom we receive them, by means of kind words,.

The respect and esteem we should show our Sisters should come from the heart, which is their source, for the source of respect is esteem, and esteem is formed in the heart, and form respect springs meekness. Ah, well, my daughters, who is without fault? No one in the whole world; no, not a single one. Look all around you and you will not see anyone who has not a defect or failing of some sort. But look at yourself more closely. If there are any here who thought they joined this congregation only to preach the gospel to the poor but not to comfort them, only to supply their spiritual needs but not their material ones, to them I say this: We should assist the poor in every way.

Father, we are as it were a mirror for the world on which it pauses to look and it easily does what we do. If a person has contracted a bad habit and sees a Daughter of Charity committing a similar fault he will consider himself even still more at liberty to go on committing this fault.

If any of us does anything wrong in presence of the poor they will think there is no harm in doing the same thing because we have done it. God suggested the idea to me: Could not these good ladies be gathered together and exhorted to give themselves to God to serve the sick poor? You no longer belong to yourselves, you belong to God. You are going to people who serve God well and [who] are very charitable. You have been chosen to go for, Sisters, God has selected you for this purpose. He has not chosen that Sister there, but you, and none other. You have been asked to go there for a year, or six months, or forever.

In case you have to make a beginning with one parish, select the most suitable, on the advice of the Bishop, and then go on to another, and so on; in the end, you will see how things are going. What a picture does God place before your eyes [in the life of Louise de Marillac] which we should regard as a prototype. Which you should gaze on, a picture of humility, charity, meekness, patience in infirmities. Behold what a picture! And how are you to make use of it, my dear Sisters? By striving to form your life on hers. May God be pleased to grant the Company to which you belong. Mutuality in Spiritual Direction.

I beg you to help me obtain the grace to mend my ways for the future and to begin a new life. You must live in conformity with the name you bear since it is God who has given this name to the Company. Notice that it was the people who, seeing what you are doing and the service that our first sisters rendered to poor persons, have given you the name, which has been kept as most fitting for your way of life. Conferences to the Daughters of Charity March 4, , 4: Never can a child know what a mother suffers. We can have no peace [but] with God, with our neighbor or with ourselves unless Jesus Christ gives it to us.

Teach poor children as much as you can, and remember that the most necessary thing of all is whatever concerns the knowledge of God and his love. Your Confraternity is a work of God. Loving the poor means to love in the best way. The Son of God had this spirit and gave you this specific character. I have always felt that the happiness of your Company depended on its frugality.

The first evangelical maxim teaches the lesson of poverty, and that is how Our Lord begins when He teaches the way of perfection to all who wish to follow Him; and, by the mercy of God, my daughters, that is how you begin. Because when you come here, you possess nothing; if you have anything, you give it up, according to the evangelical precept. In the Motherhouse, you have poverty in all things: Conferences of Vincent de Paul to the Daughters of Charity. The amount they [the Daughters of Charity] bring in is almost exactly equal to the amount of expenses; the ones who bring in more must supplement any insufficient amount brought in by the others.

I ask this because I do not know whether the entire Company is capable of understanding that their savings truly support the House—some of them exhibit little restraint and most of them too freely tell all they know. Louise de Marillac, D. As I reflect on the present condition of the Company,. Louise de Marillac, L When God wishes to communicate Himself He does so without effort, in a sweet, gentle, and loving manner.

Let us, therefore, ask Him for the gift of prayer, and let us do so with great confidence. And let us be certain that in the end He will grant it to us out of His boundless mercy, for He never refuses to give ear to humble and confident prayer. If he does not grant it immediately, He will do so later on.


We must persevere and not grow discouraged. If we have not this spirit of God now He will mercifully grant it to us if we only hold fast. He may give it to us three or four months, hence, or perhaps in a year or two. But no matter what happens, let us be resigned to Providence, let us hope for all things from His munificence, let us leave all to Him, and let us always have plenty of courage. When God in His goodness bestows grace on a soul, what seemed o be so hard becomes so easy, that precisely in which it experienced the greatest difficulty it now finds delight.

The soul is rightly and completely astonished at this unexpected change in itself And I said, now I have begun; this is the change of the right hand of the Most High. The soul now finds itself in the presence of God without any trouble; His presence of God without any trouble; His presence becomes habitual and never ceases. It is even accompanied with much satisfaction.

Prayer is a great book for a preacher: It is hoped that all Missionaries may have a great love for this virtue, for without its help they will do little or nothing useful, but with its help it is certain that they will touch hearts. I ask God to give us the spirit of prayer. Prayer … is the daily manna which comes down from heaven..

Like a gentle dew every morning moistens your soul by the grace which it draws down from God. It is chiefly in prayer that God will give you strength. Prayer, Meditation and Contemplation. Mental prayer is made in two ways: By way of the understanding, when after something has been read the mind wakes up in the presence of God and then occupies itself in seeking to know the meaning of the mystery proposed, in seeing its suitable lesson, and in arousing the affections to seek God and avoid evil. And although the will produces these acts, yet it is called prayer of the understanding, because its chief function, which is to seek out the truth, is exercised by the understanding, which is occupied primarily with the subject put before it.

This is what is ordinarily called meditation. Everybody can make it, each one according to his ability and the lights which God may bestow. The other sort of prayer is called contemplation. In this the soul, in the presence of God, does nothing else but receive from Him what He bestows. Have you ever, my dear Sisters, experienced this sort of prayer? I am sure you have, and in your retreats you have often been astonished that, without doing anything on your part, God Himself has replenished your soul and granted you knowledge you never had before. Now God communicates in both these ways many and excellent lights to His servants.

Touching Jesus in a Healing Meditation

In prayer, He enlightens their understanding with many truths incomprehensible to all save those who give themselves to prayer; in it He influences their wills; and lastly, it is in prayer that He takes more complete possession of their hearts and souls. Now you must know, my dear Sisters, that though educated people are more disposed to prayer, and though many succeed in it, and have, of themselves, minds open to many lights, still the conversations of God with humble souls are quite different.

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Confiteor tibi, Pater, etc. I thank thee, Father, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise of this world, and hast revealed them to the little and the humble. After you have dressed and made your bed, you will set about praying. O my Daughters, this is the center of devotion, and you should eagerly desire to acquire thoroughly the habit of prayer.

God is so good and has already been so good to you as to call you to practice charity; why then do you think He will deny you the grace you need to pray well? I was very much edified today when conversing with a good village girl who is now one of the greatest souls I know! Always begin all your prayers with an act of the presence of God.

It was also said that prayer is the soul of our souls— that is to say, that what the soul is to the body, prayer is to the soul. Now, the soul gives life to the body, makes it move, walk, speak, and do all that is necessary. If the body had not the soul, it would be an infectious corpse, fit only for burial. Now, my Daughters, the soul without prayer is almost like a body without a soul; in what concerns the service of God; it is without feeling, movement, and has only worldly and earthly desires. My Daughters, it is into hearts without worldly knowledge, who seek God in Himself, that He is pleased to pour forth the most excellent lights and the greatest graces.

He manifests to these hearts what all the schools have not discovered, and develops in them mysteries that the most learned fail to have the least sight of. And, would you believe it, my dear Sisters, we have experience of this among ourselves? O my daughter, I am very pleased indeed that you have raised this objection. But all cannot use them. Each one can take her stand at the foot of the cross, in the presence of God and, if she has nothing to say to Him, let her wait till He speaks to her. If He should leave her there, let her remain there willingly and await from His bounty the grace either of speaking or of listening to Him.

Saint Teresa waited perseveringly during twenty years for God to give her the grace of prayer and she received it in such abundance that her writings are admired by the greatest theologians. Are you not all, my dear Sisters, willing to do So? For prayer is all my comfort; without it I should be of little service to him [William Magee Seton dying in the Lazaretto].

All the virtues are to be found in prayer. What food is to the body, prayer is to the soul, if persons were satisfied with taking a meal every three to four days, they would soon grow weak. Soul not nourished by prayer becomes tired, weary, without strength, courage or power, a source of annoyance to others and unbearable to itself. Vincent said to them: My dear Sisters, always do what you can so that, prayer being your first occupation, your mind may be filled with God for the rest of the day.

It is true that, in case of necessity, you should prefer the service of the poor to making your prayer, but, if you take care, you will find plenty of time for both. The sick are not often purged during extremely hot weather. The devil does all he can to prevent us from making our prayer, because he well knows that if he is the first to fill our mind with frivolous thoughts, he will be the master of it for the rest of the day.

So, my daughters, I urge you, as far as I can, to make your prayer before going out and to make it together. If, however, you are legitimately prevented from doing so, you can make your prayer afterwards and in the church. I beg you to be exact about this holy exercise, to tell one another how you have spent the time at prayer and, especially, the resolutions you have taken, and you should do so quite simply. He [Vincent] wanted his missionaries to be men of prayer, as much for their personal advancement as for the ability to be of real service to others.

He was most anxious that his confreres should progress in their practice of this holy exercise. Give me a man of prayer, and he will be able to do everything. He will be able to say with the apostle that he can do all in him who strengthens him and who gives him support. Mental prayer is the impregnable ramparts which will protect the missionaries from all sorts of attacks.

It is like a mystical arsenal, a tower of David, which will be the source of their arms, not only to defend themselves, but to attack and rout all the opponents of the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Prayer rejuvenates the soul far more truly than the fountains of youth the philosophers speak of rejuvenate the body. In prayer your soul. It is a fountain of youth. That being settled, my dear Sisters, you and I must resolve never to omit our daily prayer. I say daily, my Daughters, but if it were possible I would say: But prayer prevents me from preparing this medicine, from taking it along, from seeing this patient or that lady?

Not at all, my Daughters, your soul will never cease to be in the presence of God, and will always direct a sigh towards Him. If you only knew, my Daughters, what pleasure God takes in seeing a poor village girl, a poor Daughter of Charity, address herself lovingly to Him, you would go to prayer with far more confidence than I can inspire in you. If you but knew the treasures and graces that God has planned to pour out upon you!

If you but knew how much knowledge you would find there, how much sweetness, how much love! You would find everything there, my Daughters, because it is the fountain and source of all knowledge. Prayer as a Mirror. I may also add, my dear Daughters, that prayer is like a mirror in which the soul can see all its stains and disfigurements; it notes what renders it displeasing to God; it arranges itself so that it may be conformable to Him in all things. Fashionable ladies will not leave their homes without looking at themselves in a mirror to see that nothing is wanting, and that there is nothing unseemly about them.

Touching Jesus in a Healing Meditation

There are, indeed, some of them so vain as to carry mirrors in their girdles, so as to take an occasional glance to see if anything has happened that needs adjustment. Now, my Daughters, is it not reasonable that, just as fashionable people strive to please the world, those who serve God should strive to please God? They should never leave home without looking in their own mirror. God wishes those who serve Him to look at themselves in holy prayer, so that every day and often during the day, by means of interior looks and aspirations, they may see whatever in them is displeasing to God, that they may ask pardon for it and remove it.

Always begin all your prayers with an act of the presence of God because, sometimes, for want of doing so, an action will cease to be pleasing to Him. Just consider, my Daughters, that while we do not yet see God, faith teaches us that His holy presence is everywhere, and this is one of the means that we should propose to ourselves. I mean, this presence in all places, penetrating all things and even our hearts to their very depths.

This is even more true than the thought that we are all here present. Another means of placing ourselves in the presence of God is to imagine ourselves before the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar. It is there, my dear Daughters, that we receive the dearest testimonies of His love. Let us love Him dearly and remember that He said when on earth: It is he most sublime on earth, the very one Our Lord willed to assume and follow. As for myself, if I had known what it was when I had the temerity to enter it as I have come to know since then I would have preferred to till the soil than to commit myself to such a formidable state of life.

Indeed, the older I get, the more convinced I am of htis because day by day I discover how far removed I am from the state of perfection in which I should be living. I feel so strongly about this that, if I was not already a priest, I never would become one. We must put our cares and concerns into his hands, for he will never fail. Licorice is used in making infusions, and I sent you some small bits of it so that you can use it more easily. However, it must be used fresh; only cut what you are going to use because it blackens quickly.

I would not dare boast that it grows in our garden because so far we have only seen leaves and flowers. Remedies for the sick. As for herbs, fruit, eggs, etc. The administrators promised to have butter provided for the house, as they did all wood, wine, vinegar, oil and other necessities. Point that out to Monsieur Lambert. Your letters all arrived together, making it hard for us to know the actual state of affairs of the sister about whom you say you asked. I hope that he will also put a stop to our sisters going out to gather herbs in the countryside; such high-quality herbs are not needed in the pharmacy.

It is enough to have the common and the most needed ones. Otherwise, we would be spending a lot of money needlessly. Since it has pleased God to give you a steward who, I believe, is one we would want, I urge you, Sisters, not to go out any longer. Even Sister Henriette [Gesseaume] should have her medical herbs brought to her. For a long time I have wished that your poor could be treated with remedies like those used in the parishes of Paris. If this were so, the sisters employed in the pharmacy would have more time and energy to serve the poor.

I am sending you the bill of exchange that we drew up when we sent the hundred pounds. There are no more fruit capsules to be found, but I am sending two pounds of inexpensive senna, which the doctors approve, as well as a half-pound of better quality. We cannot yet send you directions for making spirit of vitriol because we do not know how to make it ourselves.

In keeping with what the merchant advised us, these are the ingredients we bought to make it. Sister Philippe [Bailly] said that she cannot remember any other remedy for dropsy except to purge the patient often and sometimes to use gamboge. If I can learn anything more, I will let you know. It would truly be difficult for me from here to give our sisters the necessary advice that they will need once they are there. I would have to know the customary way of serving the sick, the number of sick, the situation of the hospital meaning the lodging arrangements for the men and the women , whether there are officers who prepare the meals for the sick, whether there is a pharmacist, and whether bloodletting is allowed.

Also, it seems to me that Monsieur [Guillaume] Gallais [C. However, Monsieur, this seems to me a point of great importance. In my opinion, it is more appropriate to have a large number of sisters and to remove the servants entirely as gently and charitably as possible. Please God, the sister who is bringing this letter will find you still there so that I may have news of you before your departure; may it be that you are in perfect health.

I am also sending some preserves which I think will be much better for you than the pills I mentioned. For several months a number of ladies from the city made a habit of visiting the sick because of their great need for food. Between supper in the evening and dinner the next day there was no food in the hospital, nor was there anything between dinner and supper.

Such was the situation that these ladies brought bouillons, eggs and other things. They stopped this upon our arrivaLetter Knowing of the practice, we suggested that they continue it, but in a different manner. We showed them that they did not have to come in the morning, which could be a bad time for them because of their family obligations.

Likewise, we let them know that they did not need to bring fresh bouillon since there now would always be some available in the hospital, along with eggs, for the most sick individuals. This does much good for the sick, as well as being pleasing to God, and they can draw much merit from it. It would also console our sisters who would be motivated by their example and would receive with respect the advice that they would do them the honor and charity of giving them.

These ladies resolved to continue their visits in this way, and several took the trouble to come to find out what they should bring. There is not a single orderly in the hospital except two or three hired hands who help in serving the men, bringing water, and other services of. As for provisions, the administrators take care of that themselves. There is a married man living in the city whose responsibility it was to procure all the supplies, even the herbs for the soup. I pray to our good God that the medicine was beneficial to your health.

However, I truly fear you took it too early. Several days ago I was thinking of suggesting bouillons to you; I think they would do you a lot of good. Please allow us to send you some tomorrow. I, myself, took some this week and felt markedly better as a result. I thank you with all my heart for the beautiful, delicious apples you sent us. It seems to me that you once mentioned that you were going to make honey. Please find out if that white honey is natural, or if it can be made some way because sugar is becoming very expensive, and it could be used to make syrups and even preserves.

We are sending you a half-pound of catholicon, a pound of senna, a pound of cassia and two and a quarter pounds of licorice. If you need anything else, let me know. I believe, Monsieur, that you asked me to send you the formula for rose syrup as well as the method for administering it to the sick. I am enclosing it. Please excuse the deficiencies. Our Master, the loving Doctor, whom I have asked to aid you will make up for them. I reduced somewhat the quantity of the drugs you asked for because we must never be excessive. Remember, my dear Sisters, that it is the poor that you serve, that it is their money you are using, and that you must save every sou as a matter of conscience.

Such a great quantity of drugs can spoil. Moreover, only common remedies must be used. I do not even advise you to prepare your catholicon all at once, because it is more effective when freshly made. I am very surprised that you did not receive your share of the drugs we sent. To make up for this, I am sending you a loaf of sugar to make rose and cherry syrups. All our sisters ask to be remembered to you, and they praise God for the courage His goodness gives you to serve these poor afflicted people.

Take care of your health. I believe that you have been bled for the swelling. I know of no other remedy. I am rather curious to know how you treat yourself in your ailments with regard to food and medicine and especially if you are considered as one of the sick of the parish. If you are, then the matter needs to be examined because of your continuing fragile health. I urge you, my dear Sister, to let me know what the situation is and I will offer some suggestions.

I believe, Sister, that some changes among our sisters are necessary, and I would ask you to let me know as soon as possible if you could train a sister who already knows how to prepare medicines and other remedies to mix compounds. Forgive me, Monsieur, if I take this liberty as well as that of telling you that, if you have not already been purged, I would be pleased to render you this little service by preparing you a potion which I believe should be made up of the equivalent of the weight of three copper coins of senna steeped overnight in a good mixture of refreshing, pleasant-tasting herbs.

The Master's Hand - Marhsall McDonald

To this add one-half ounce of cleaned black currants mixed with an ounce of peach syrup the pharmacist here has given me some that is excellent or, if this is not available, the same amount of pink rose syrup. However, I believe that you should wait until the pain which is causing the inflammation has subsided completely, or at least for a week, so as not to bring on another attack. Tell Brother Alexandre that I feel he should not hesitate to purge Monsieur Vincent; in my opinion he is in need of it. I think a mixture of chicory syrup and peach blossom syrup would be very good for him. You will know how to handle this message.

The state of suffering and submission to which it pleases Our Lord to subject you increases the boldness I always show in expressing my puny thoughts to you. But do not do this without consulting two doctors. Tea may be taken between the early morning bouillon and dinner. Experience has shown me that it must not be taken as a substitute for other food, but that it is an excellent way to prepare the stomach to take food. I believe it has been quite a long time since I have taken the liberty of speaking to you, and for that reason please excuse me if I tell you that I am worried about your illness.

If you were of our poor, it seems to me that our fortified water from Monsieur Desner would have cured you quickly. I also believe that any type of ointment used only heats the wound and keeps it festering. I beg you to be exact about this holy exercise [of morning prayer], to tell one another how you have spent the time at prayer and, especially, the resolutions you have taken, and you should do so quite simply. I think I have told you already about it twice, and I shall tell you once more: I t may be a poor shoemaker, a poor baker, a poor carter, and nevertheless they fill us with astonishment.

We sometimes talk about it among ourselves, and are ashamed that we are not such as we see them to be. We say to one another: Think of that poor brother; did you not remark the good and beautiful thoughts God has given him? Is it not wonderful? For he said what he has repeated not because he had previously known it; it is since he began to pray that he learned it. Great and incomprehensible goodness of God, to take His delight in communicating with the simple, and the ignorant! Hence we may learn that all the knowledge in the world is but ignorance, in comparison with what He grants those who earnestly seek Him in the way of holy prayer.

Be very gentle and courteous toward your poor. You know that they are our masters and that we must love them tenderly and respect them deeply. You will learn in retreat to be true Daughters of Charity and you will also learn there the best way to serve the poor. You will go over in your mind the actions of Our Lord when He was on earth and you will see that he spent a great part of His time in serving His neighbor, and you will resolve to imitate Him.

Vincent de Paul, Jesus is the rule of the Mission. Vincentian Heritage, , 1: That your Company is not a religious order. That the Daughters of Charity, being the Servant of the Poor, are clothed and fed poorly , and they may not change their white headpiece nor their habits. You are not religious in name, but you should be religious in deed , and you are more obliged to become perfect than they are. For whoever says religious says cloistered, and Daughters of Charity should go everywhere.

They shall bear in mind that they are not in a Religious Order, as this state is unsuitable to the duties of their vocation.

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  8. Vincent de Paul [cx]. You will have for your chapel, the parish church; for your cloister, the streets of the city, or hospital wards; for your grate, the fear of God; for your veil, holy modesty; for your grille, holy obedience. Souls who seek God will find him everywhere, but especially in the poor. Take care of yourself for the love of God and reflect that one way to do this is to remain cheerful by conforming yourself completely to the holy will of God and not worrying about anything.

    Reflection of Vincent when he sent Louise on her first mission to Montmirail: Go, therefore, Mademoiselle, go in the name of Our Lord. I pray that His Divine Goodness may accompany you, be your consolation along the way, your shade against the heat of the sun, your shelter in rain and cold, your soft bed in your weariness, your strength in your toil, and, finally, that He may bring you back in perfect health and filled with good works.

    How obliged you are to serve the poor respectfully as your masters, and devotedly because they represent for you the person of Our Lord who said: What you do to the least of mine, I will consider as done to me. So then, Sisters, Our Lord is really with that. I long and wish to serve our Lord with every breath I draw. Does the life of our Jesus animate us—do we indeed give him the true service of the heart without which whatever else we give has no Value— [cxvii] Elizabeth Ann Seton.

    Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. To serve those who are poor is to go to God, and you should see God in them. Sisters, that is not enough. You should resolve to join henceforward help for the soul to the services you render the body. Yes, Savior, in future I intend to try to render all the spiritual assistance in my power to my patients, in addition to caring for their bodies.

    Service, Leaving God for God.

    The issue of accountability

    Service of Poor, by priests. If priests devote themselves to the care of the poor, has not that been the office of Our Lord and of many great Saints, who have not only recommended the poor to others, but have themselves consoled, comforted and healed them? Are not the poor the afflicted members of Our Lord? Are they not our brothers [and sisters]? And if priests abandon them, who do you think will help them? I have heard it said that it was almsgiving which helped bishops to become saints.

    I beg all of you to renew your courage so that you may serve God and the poor with more fervor, humility, and charity than ever. Strive to acquire interior recollection in the midst of your occupations. We have now reached the 12th rule. Let us see what it says: Their chief care will be to serve the sick poor, treating them with compassion, meekness, cordiality, respect and devotion, etc.

    My own troubles will teach me I hope how to comfort others. Take care to give an account of your prayer to one another as soon as possible after making it. You cannot imagine how useful this will be. Tell one another quite simply the thoughts that God has given you and, above all, carefully remember the resolutions you made at prayer. Blessed Sister Mary of the Incarnation made use of this means to advance very far in perfection.

    She gave a careful account of her prayer to her maidservant. Oh, yes, my Daughters, you cannot imagine how greatly this practice will profit you and the pleasure you will give to God by acting in this way. Just think, dear Saint Mary Magdalen hid in her heart the good thoughts which she gathered from the words of Our Lord, and the same thing is even said of the Blessed Virgin. The good thoughts which God gives you in prayer are relics; gather them carefully together in order to translate them into acts and you will gladden the heart of God; you will then be the Joy of God and all the Saints will hold high festival.

    Sickness of Community Members. Do not fear that you may be in any way a burden to the Company because of sickness, and you must be convinced you never will be. On the contrary, it is a blessing to have them. We will be helped greatly in this if we ask our good God for holy simplicity. Simplicity is the virtue that I love most and, to which, I pay the most attention in my actions.

    The problem which divides people today is not a political problem, it is a social one. It is a matter of knowing which will get the upper hand, the spirit of selfishness or the spirit of sacrifice; whether society will go for ever increasing enjoyment and profit, or for everyone devoting themselves to the general good, and above all to the defense of the weakest. Many people have too much and want still more. Others do not have enough, or do not have anything at all, and they want to take by force what is not being given to them.

    A war is threatening between these two groups, and looks like being a terrible one. On one side the power of wealth, on the other the force of desperation. We must get in between these two groups, at. Because we are young, because we are not wealthy, we can more easily fill the role of mediators, which, as Christians, we should consider obligatory. That is the possible usefulness of the Conferences of our Society of St.

    Solitude and Apostolic Ministry. The life of a Missionary ought to be the life of a Carthusian in the house, and an apostle in the countryside. The more he cares for his own interior development the more his labors for the spiritual good of others will prosper. The apostolic life does not exclude contemplation but encompasses it and profits by it to know better the eternal truths it must proclaim. The Spirit of your Company consists of three things: As long as charity, humility, and simplicity exist amongst you, one may say: The Company of Charity is still alive. Always remember that in the spiritual life little account is taken of the beginnings.

    People attach importance to the progress and the end. The way to do that. Simplicity impresses the candidates. They are very happy with it, and they are not looking for anything else here. Presented in this garment, truth will be well received, and will be most effective in an unadorned modesty. O Monsieur, how happy you are to have laid the first foundations of this Church.

    It will lead so many souls to heaven who otherwise would not have entered there, if God did not pour out on them the principle of eternal life through the teaching and sacraments which you have administered. May you continue, with the help of his grace, for a long time in your holy ministry, and serve as an example and an encouragement for the other missionaries.

    This is the prayer the whole Company frequently offers, for it has your person and your work very much at heart. I feel this deeply. If they suffer for their ignorance and sin, we ought to intercede for them before the mercy of God. Charity obliges us to do this. If we do not spend ourselves to teach them and aid them in this perfect conversion to God, even at the cost of our life, we are in some way the cause of all the ills they suffer. We should work as hard as though everything depends on us and, at the same time, should trust as though everything depends on God.

    God gives me such a great esteem for simplicity that I call it my gospel. I have a particular devotion and consolation it in saying things as they are. Must I then leave all these blessings which you yourself, my God, have given me? Will you not, Lord, be satisfied with a portion of the sacrifice?

    Will you not accept the sacrifice of my own literary self-esteem, of my academic ambition, of my very study where pride perhaps featured more than zeal for the truth? Humility has this peculiar property, that it hinders us from aiming at any esteem but yours, O my God, who give to things their proper value.

    Human beings do not know their true value. Is not the role of a fool to prefer the esteem of the world to yours, the shadow to the substance, a lie to the truth? Let us be well grounded in this spirit, if we wish to have in ourselves the image of the Adorable Trinity, if we wish to bear a sacred relation to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. What is it that produces unity and comity in God; is it not the equality and the distinction of the Three Persons? And what produces their mutual love, if not their perfect resemblance? And if they had not mutual love, what word the be amiable in them?

    Uniformity, therefore, exists in the Blessed Trinity; what the Father wills, the Son wills; what the Holy Spirit does, the Father and the Son do; they act in the same manner, the have but one and the same power, one and the same operation. Behold the beginning of perfection and our model. Let us become uniform; we shall be many as if we were only one, and we shall have holy union in plurality. The nearer a soul is truly united to God, the more its sensibilities are increased to every being of His Creation; much more to those whom it is bound to love by the tenderest and most endearing ties. Great disunion may arise in the Community when charity is lacking, so, too, will be union, and therefore, there is no community at all because what keeps it together is union of hearts.

    I shall speak to you all the more willingly of good village girls, because I know them from experience and indeed by nature, for I am the son of a poor tiller of the soil and I lived in the country until I was fifteen years old. Morever, we have labored for many long years amongst country folk so that no one know them better than the Priests of the Mission. There is nothing to equal persons who really posses the spirit of village folk; nowhere will you find greater faith, greater recourse to God in times of need, greater gratitude to Him in times of prosperity.

    Virtue based and built up on the Word of God will never fail [cxlvi]. Monsieur Vincent was gifted by both nature and grace with a great prudence. He acted with such integrity, moderation, and wisdom that during life he happily succeeded in all he undertook for the glory of God and in the service of those who represented God upon earth.

    Humility brings to the soul all of the other virtues. Vocation of Daughters of Charity. My daughters, before proceeding any farther and in order to teach those who do not know what we are talking about, I must tell you what a vocation is: A vocation is a call from God to do something.

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    The vocation of the Apostles was to plant the faith throughout the world; the vocation of a religious is a call from God to observe the rules of the religious life; the vocation of married persons is a call from God to serve Him in the government of a family and in the education of children; the vocation of a Daughter of Charity is a call from God, the choice which His goodness has made of her, in preference to all others who have come before His mind, to serve Him in all the employments proper to this state of life to which He summons her.

    It is my will that this soul sanctifies herself by serving Me in such or such an employment. And that, my daughters, is your vocation. When God has made His choice, He often calls you by means unknown to yourselves, most often, however, by the desire with which He inspires you and the perseverance with which you seek for admission. After that, my daughters, one should not say to oneself: But is it God Who has willed it? For when you reason thus, you very frequently do so because you experience difficulty in the practice of humility, submission and obedience, virtues which are necessary for you, and which the devil strives to render impossible for you.

    God is, steadfast in His judgments, my daughters. The salvation of souls is so dear to Him that He takes all the necessary care to place them on the easiest way to reach the road to Heaven. But we must strive not to leave it, for as soon as ever a man who has set out on a long journey leaves the highway or turns off from it, he is in danger of coming upon paths which will lead him far away from the place to which he was going.

    Those who would transplant trees shortly before the season for bearing fruit, those who would dig them out to plant them elsewhere, would never gather any fruit; trees, so moved about from place to place and from soil to soil, would even be in danger of dying. Judas, who was called by God to be an Apostle and to whom so many graces had been given, thought he would do better in another walk of life. You all know his history and how he ruined himself.

    But, by the mercy of God, his place did not remain vacant and God called St. Paul from out the Gentile world in which he was plunged to make him a vessel of election. Let us proceed, in nomine Domini. Sister, would you be pleased to tell us your thoughts? One reason we have for persevering to the end is that perseverance deserves a crown and, on the contrary, for want of perseverance, we may lose the merit of all we have hitherto done and fall into a deplorable state of abandonment, as a punishment for the loss of our vocation.

    I fear this so strongly that I beg God daily that I may rather die than lose my vocation. On Perseverance in Our Vocation. I have no doubt that there will be some who will oppose these works. Others will say that it is far too much to send missionaries to distant lands, to the Indies, to Barbary. Yet was it not the Lord who sent Saint Thomas to the Indies and sent the other apostles to different peoples and nations? Was it not the Lord who entrusted the apostles with the care and guidance of all people? Yes, our vocation is to evangelize the poor.

    When the whole world speaks well of a thing, then the voice of the people is the voice of God. And so it was God Who gave you this name [Daughters of Charity]. Therefore, preserve it carefully. Men [sic] go to war to kill one another, and you, sisters, you go to repair the harm they have done. Men [sic] kill the body and very often the soul, and you go to restore life, or at least by your care to assist in preserving it. Our Lord is a continual communion for those who are united to what he wills and does not will. Be quite cheerful in the disposition of willing everything that God wills.

    If God is the center of your life, no words will be needed. Your mere presence will touch their hearts. Perfection does not consist in ecstasies but in doing the will of God. Oh, what an excellent way of life, hard on nature but sweet and easy for souls enlightened by eternal truths and by the awareness of the joy to be found in pleasing God and in allowing Him full mastery over their wills! This, it seems to me,. Enter upon it, then, wholeheartedly as would a vessel that will carry you where you must go.

    Refers to potential of women in ministry. As to this [care of foundlings] not being a work for women, Ladies, you may be assured that God has used persons of your sex to do the greatest things ever done in this world. Our Lord has all virtues in abundance. They are for all those whom he uses in his works and who place all their confidence in his help.

    Do not limit your vision any longer to yourself, but see the Lord around you and in you, ready to put his hand to the work as soon as you ask for his help. You will see that all will go well. Three can do more than ten when the Lord puts his hand to it, and he always does so when he takes away the means of doing it in another way. Our vocation, then, is not to go to one parish, or even to one diocese, but throughout the whole world, and for what end?

    To inflame the hearts of men, to do what the Son of God did. He came to cast fire on the earth, to inflame it with His love. What else have we to desire save that it burns and consumes all? My dear Brothers, pray, let us reflect on that. It is true, then, that I am sent, not merely to love God but to have Him loved. I ought to love my neighbor as the image of God and the object of His love, and to act that men may, in turn, love their Creator, who knows them and acknowledges them as His brethren, Who has saved them, and so act that they may love each other for the love of God, Who has so loved them as to deliver up His Son to death for their sakes.

    That, then is what I am obliged to. If love of God is the fire, zeal is its flame. If love is the sun, then zeal is its ray. Betty Ann McNeil, D. Vincent de Paul, Abelly 2: Vincent de Paul to Edme Jolly, C. Vincent de Paul to Pierre Cabel, C. Vincent de Paul, 22 November Vincent de Paul to Marc Coglec, C. Conferences to the Daughters of Charity , 7 December , New City Press, ,13b: Westminster, MD, , 4: Conferences to the Daughters of Charity, November 15, , 3: Westminster, MD, , Vincent de Paul to Louise de Marillac, c. Martha went out to wait for Jesus.

    How did she get there? I think I know. Then he turned toward the woman [Mary? Mary, I believe, was at the feet of Jesus, doing what every good host or hostess would have done—washing the feet of their guest. It is my opinion that Mary just never got up. Mary was not content to make a quick job of it. Jesus began to speak, and she was captivated by His words.

    She was so inconspicuous, her actions so gracious, and Jesus so grateful and affirming, that she never thought of getting up and slipping away to the kitchen. She had eyes only for the One who had forgiven her, and who loved her, as she loved Him. Was she normally subject to Martha? Not so today, and Jesus was grateful to have her at His feet. The warmth of the love of that woman must have caused the room to glow.

    Who would dare to suggest she leave, no matter what Martha might want? We might all agree that Mary is the hero, she is the model, but she is not the dominant personality of our passage. Martha was not envious of Mary, but angry with her. But Martha did not say this. Martha accused both Mary and Jesus of doing wrong against her, and found herself innocent.

    Jesus praised Mary for the choice she had made and informed Martha that she was in the wrong. Martha was not wrong in serving, but her attitude in serving was clearly wrong. It is not excusable, but it is understandable. Let me remind you that Martha, as the hostess of the house, may well have been faced with entertaining a sizable group.

    We know that Jesus was often accompanied by a large party. One can hardly imagine the 12 disciples not being there, not to mention some or all of the 70, and then, of course, the women who accompanied and attended Jesus Luke 8: Some years ago, when my younger sister was married, my parents entertained a large group at their home. At least 50 or 60 people were there for at least one meal. There was a great deal of planning and preparation involved.

    My wife, Jeannette, played a large role in this, and she can testify to the work involved. I gather from this experience that Martha likewise had no mean job. She could have used all the help she could get. Mary had no right, Martha told herself, and if we had been in her sandals, we would likely have thought the same thing. One must say that this is hardly proper conduct. How easy it would have been for Jesus to have a scorching, or at least a sarcastic response to Martha, but no trace of anger can be seen. Her tears and her rebuke, no matter how strongly put, do not put Jesus on the defensive.

    Angry accusations and outbursts, especially those which are disproportionate as was that of Martha , often point to deeper problems. Martha was not forbidden or rebuked for serving, but only for insisting that Mary do likewise. Jesus deal with these women as individuals. This was not way to be serving her Lord. It was being taught at the feet of the Master. If there is any one element of discipleship, it is being a learner, and this is what Mary had chosen to do. Martha was preoccupied with ministering to Jesus; Mary with the ministry of Jesus. In the final analysis, He is not dependent upon our ministry to Him, but our life in Him is totally dependent upon His ministry to us.

    In seeking to serve Jesus, Martha was hindering the sustenance of Jesus in her life, and she even demanded that it be kept from her sister as well. Martha had greatly overstepped her areas of responsibility. Simply put, Martha was responsible only for her attitude, for her service. She had begun to assume responsibility for others, while ignoring her own accountability. I believe that this story illustrates many of the things which Luke has been emphasizing up to this point, as well as correcting any possible misconceptions. I believe that Luke is, by means of this incident, illustrating what true discipleship is.

    The essence of discipleship is not our service rendered to Christ, but finding our sustenance in Christ. It is not being a Martha, but a Mary. Discipleship is not so much a teeth-gritting devotion to duty, as a joyful devotion to and dependence on Christ. Our story is also further evidence of the priorities which characterize our Lord and which should characterize His disciples. One of these priorities is that of being sustained and strengthened by the Word of God as opposed to finding our strength from earthly sustenance, namely food.

    Later in this same chapter, when the disciples found Jesus in prayer, they urged Him to return to the place where He had been, for many were waiting for Him to heal them. At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. In the gospel of John, the same emphasis on deriving our sustenance from Christ is found, but this time using the analogy of a branch finding its life from the vine:.

    He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

    If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. In the gospel of Matthew, learning from Jesus is not only taught, but it is taught in such a way as to prevent men from the very things which were eating away at Martha. Learning of Christ is the key to finding rest in Him:. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Later on, in the book of Acts also authored by Luke , we see the priority of the Word of God to service emphasized in this event:.

    In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against those of the Aramaic-speaking community because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.

    They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith Acts 6: The New Testament, then, has much to say about the priority of the Word of God in the life of the Christian and in the life of the church. By emphasizing the Word of God in the life of the Christian I do not mean to say that we sit at the feet of Jesus like Mary did by sitting through a sermon.

    I want to be honest with you at this point. While I believe that God has given me the gift of teaching, I am very frequently tempted to forsake my study and the hard work of grappling with the Word of God by finding other ways of serving God. I find that it is a lot easier, in the terms of our text, to be in the kitchen with Martha than to be in the living room with Mary, at the feet of Jesus.

    Let us all beware of letting a good thing like service get in the way of the better thing, abiding in Christ through His Word. We can say this because abiding in Christ through His Word provides us with both the motivation and the means for serving Him. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit by any other means than by abiding in the vine, so we cannot produce fruit apart from abiding in Christ through His Word. I believe that her problem may be summed up in this way: Martha felt that her service was so vital she could demand that Mary come to help her, even though it meant not being there to learn at the feet of the Savior.

    It was by preparing meals and offering hospitality that Martha saw herself as having value to others. Martha found her ministry to be of too much value to her. And she could not allow Mary to set it aside, either. It is amazing that while Christians have come to the point of renouncing their performance, their works, as having anything to contribute to their salvation, they somehow think that their ministry does determine their significance to God, or at least to others. The Scriptures simply do not teach this, for our spiritual gifts, our ministries, and our level of effectiveness are all sovereignly given us by God 1 Corinthians The one who has a great ministry cannot take the credit, any more than the one with a seemingly insignificant ministry can take any blame.

    It is only required that we be faithful in using that which God has given us, in the context in which He has placed us. Over the years I have seen many young men enter seminary and attempt to become pastors primarily because they often told or taught this by other Christians believe that this is a more significant ministry, which makes them more significant people. Why are some women so up tight because they cannot teach and lead men?

    Because, I fear, they think these are more significant ministries, which would make them more significant people. When we think this way, ministry becomes our master, as it was for Martha. When we think biblically, our Master is our ministry, as He was for Mary. John the Baptist rejoiced in the demise of his ministry, because he had played out his role, and the Master was being magnified. Paul dealt with many reverses in his life, and yet he was able to see them as from the hand of His sovereign Lord, and he could rejoice, even in the worst of circumstances cf.

    It will not be until the day of judgment that the motives of men will be revealed, and thus our ministries should not be judged by us now cf. Let us beware of seeking to appraise the value of our ministries, since this is something which only God can judge with accuracy. I would like to think of Christians as falling into one of three categories: