A Year with the Saints – 25 November


Among all those who are included under the title of neighbor, there are none who deserve it more, in one sense, than those of our own household. They are nearest of all to us, living under the same roof and eating the same bread. Therefore they ought to be one of the principal objects of our love, and we should practice in regard to them all the acts of a true charity, which ought to be founded not upon flesh and blood, or upon their good qualities, but altogether upon God. – Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Vincent de Paul bore great love to all the members of his Congregation. He showed esteem and veneration for all, and welcomed them all with such tokens of affection that each felt sure of being tenderly loved by him. He provided for their needs with great solicitude, for he could not bear to see any of them suffer. He was often seen to rise from the table to set aside dishes for the lay-brothers, who came after the rest, and if it happened that the cook had nothing for anyone, or delayed in serving him, he would give him his own portion and constrain him to take it. He was most attentive in providing relief and comfort for the sick, often going himself to inquire into their condition and their needs; he advised the infirmarians to take all possible care of them, and the Superiors of houses to spare no fatigue or expense in providing for them. He tried to soothe their sufferings by special marks of love and attention, and offered his prayers to God on their behalf. If he perceived that anyone of them had a particular desire to speak to him, he left everything to listen to him and gave him all the time he needed. When he belonged to the king’s council, the importance of the business there transacted prevented him from leaving it in the midst to go to them, so that he deferred this work of charity until the evening, after the general examen, and denied himself the necessary repose that he might not deprive them of this satisfaction. When he saw that anyone was troubled by interior trials or temptations, he made every effort to free or else to relieve him; and if anyone seemed hardened, he did his best to win him by gentleness and mildness, sometimes even throwing himself at the feet of such and begging them not to yield to their besetting sin. Prostrating himself once before one who was unwilling to yield, he said to him: “I will not rise from this spot till you have granted what I am asking for your good, nor am I willing that the devil should have more influence with you than myself.”

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal had great charity towards all her neighbors. Greater, however, more intense and more tender, was that which she bore to her Religious, and she strove to have them feel the same towards one another. In an exhortation which she made one day to lead them to this, she said: “Observe, that when Jesus Christ gave the commandment of fraternal charity to His Apostles, He did not speak in the same way of the love which they were to bear to all men and of that which they were to bear to one another. Speaking of the former, He said, ‘Love your neighbors as yourselves’; but of the latter, ‘Love one another as I have loved you, and as My Father loves Me’. Now, the love with which Jesus Christ has loved us, and still more, that love with which His Divine Father loves Him, is a disinterested love, a love of equality, a love of inseparable union; therefore, you ought to love one another with this love, to fulfill to perfection the Divine commandment.”

She herself loved her daughters in this way, with a disinterested love, which had no advantage or pleasure of her own for its aim; with a love of equality, which made her equally affable and kind to all, accommodating herself to the feelings, desires, and inclinations of each, and making herself all things to all with admirable condescension, as far as she lawfully could; and finally, with a love of inseparable union, for no defect, imperfection, or bad quality of theirs could remove them a hair’s breadth from her loving heart.

MLA Citation