St. Vincent’s Passion for the Poor

This article is excerpted from “From Value to Virtue: Passion” by Santiago Azcarate, CM and translated by Charles T. Plock, CM, which discusses the fifth essential virtue: zeal. To read the full article on famvin.org, click here.

 

With a desire to encourage love and respect for the poor, the Rule of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society refers to zeal as the fifth essential virtue that the members are exhorted to practice. Zeal is viewed as a passion for the full flourishing and eternal happiness of every person (Rule, 2.5.1). […]

Viewed positively, zeal has a certain connotation of great kindness. From a religious perspective, dictionaries define zeal as a great interest in some person or in some cause. Again, restricting ourselves to a religious perspective, zeal is a passion for the cause of Christ, a passion to extend the kingdom of God and a passion to make all people aware of the gift of universal salvation. The Diccionario de la Real Academia states that zeal is an extreme yet effective love for the glory of God and the well-being of souls. […]

We often view love as an emotional outburst or some tender feeling. Yet love is more closely related to energy than to feeling, more closely related to a dynamic movement than affective feelings. True, love involves all of this: affective feelings, tenderness, energy and a dynamic movement … nevertheless, love is very closely related to creativity and concern. Plato said that love is a belief in beauty because lover enkindles the imagination, awakens intuition, activates one’s sensitivity and generates a more beautiful and more human reality. Love enkindles an interest in others, helps one to focus on those who are loved and makes people passionate about the well-being of their neighbour. Here we are referring to a passion that makes individuals concerned about the salvation of their brothers and sisters who are in need, enables them to share in their life and at the same times enables the poor and the needy to participate in our life. The motto of the Daughters of Charity summarizes all that we have been saying: the love of Jesus crucified urges us (2 Corinthians 5:14). In other words, we are referring to a charity that arises from the love of God and impels us to be passionate about those who are poor.

“Love is a belief in beauty because lover enkindles the imagination, awakens intuition, activates one’s sensitivity and generates a more beautiful and more human reality.”      – Plato

Because of its charism of charity and mission, Vincentians are called to on-going growth in the practice of this virtue of zeal. At this time of the new evangelization, all the members of the various conferences are called to participate in the mission of the Church by committing themselves more and more to the practice of charity. That implies a great passion for God and for God’s special loved ones, the poor. Thus, we must become involved in cultivating a series of qualities that will reflect our zeal.

 

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