Daily Archives: September 27, 2010



(A biblical reflection on the FEAST/MEMORIA OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL, Monday, 27 September, 2010) 

Background: Today, 27 September, we celebrate the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), a remarkable priest and founder of the Lazarist Fathers and the Sisters of Charity. Born in Ranquine, Gascony, France, he was the son of a peasant farmer. After studying under the Franciscans at Dax, he was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1600, subsequently attending the University of Toulouse. In 1605, while traveling by sea his ship was captured by Barbary pirates. Taken into slavery, Vincent spent two hard years as a slave, finally escaping in 1607 to France. To advance his charitable works which he began in 1609 under the spiritual guidance of Cardinal Pierre de Bérulle, Vincent founded in Paris in 1625 the Congregation of the Missions, called the Lazarists or Vincentians, a society of priests with the express task of missionary labor and the training of clergy. They were particularly charged with preaching among the people in the country side. In 1633, with the remarkable St. Louise de Marillac (1591-1660), he also established the Sisters (or Daughters) of Charity, the first congregation of women caring for the sick poor outside the confines of the convent. Vincent died at Paris in the year 1660. 

The Scripture Text

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all. …… To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some {1Cor 9:19,22 RSV). 

A reading from the writings of St. Vincent de Paul (Ep 2546) 

We should not judge the poor by their clothes and their outward appearance nor by their mental capacity, since they are often ignorant and uncouth. On the contrary, if you consider the poor in the light of faith, then you will see that they take the place of God the Son, who chose to be poor. Indeed, in His passion, having lost even the appearance of man, foolishness to the Gentiles and a scandal to the Jews, He showed He was to preach the gospel to the poor in these words: “He has sent me to preach good news to the poor.’ Therefore we should be of the same mind and should imitate what Christ did, caring for the poor, consoling them, helping and guiding them. 

Christ chose to be born in poverty and took poor men as His disciples; He Himself became the servant of the poor and so shared their condition that whatever good or harm  was done to the poor, He said He would consider done to Himself. Since God loves the poor, He also loves the lovers of the poor: when someone loves another, he loves too those who love or serve that other. So we too hope that God will love us on account of the poor. We visit them then, we strive to concern ourselves with the weak and the needy, we so share their sufferings that with the apostle we feel we have become all things to all men. Therefore we must strive to be deeply involved in the cares and sorrows of our neighbor and pray to God to inspire us with compassion and pity, filling our hearts and keeping them full. 

The service of the poor is to be preferred to all else, and to be performed without delay. If at a time set aside for prayer, medicine or help has to be brought to some poor man, go and do what has to be done with as easy mind, offering it up to God as a prayer. Do not be put out by uneasiness or a sense of sin because of prayers interrupted by the service of the poor: for God is not neglected if prayers are put aside, if God’s work is interrupted, in order that another such work may be completed. 

Therefore, when you leave prayer to help some poor man, remember this – that the waork has been done for God. Charity takes precedence over any rules, everything ought to tend to it above all; since it is itself a great lady, what it orders should be carried out. Let us show our service to the poor, then, with renewed ardour in our hearts, seeking out above all any abandoned people, since they are given to us as lords and patrons. (Taken from The Divine Office III, THE OFFICE OF READINGS, SECOND READING, p. 282-284) 

Short prayer: Heavenly Father, You endowed Saint Vincent de Paul with the spirit of an apostle to give himself to the service of the poor and to the training of priests. Give us a share of the spirit that we may love what he loved and do as he taught us. We pray this, together with Mary, in the precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen. 

Jakarta, 27 September 2010 [Feast of St. Vincent de Paul (Priest)] 

A Christian Pilgrim




[1] Someone asked Padre Pio one day: “How can one distinguish temptation from sin? And how can one be sure of not having fallen into sin?” Padre Pio smiled and replied: “How do you distinguish an ass from a reasonable being?” “The ass lets himself be guided, the reasonable being instead does the guiding.” “Quite right,” replied Padre Pio. “But how is it that when the temptation is past there is a sensation of suffering?” To this Padre Pio replied: “Listen, I will give you an example: have you ever felt the tremor of an earthquake? While everything trembled, you trembled too, but you didn’t get caught under the wreckage.”

[2] Someone complained to Padre Pio of being excessively distressed by the sins he had committed. Padre Pio replied to him: “That which you feel is pride; it is the demon which inspires you with this sentiment, it is not true sorrow.” The penitent replied: “Father, how can you then distinguish what comes from the heart and is inspired by Our Lord, and that which instead is inspired by the devil?” “You will distinguish it,” replied the holy priest, “always by this: The spirit of God is a spirit of peace, and also in the case of grave sin, it makes us feel a tranquil sorrow, humble, confident, and this is due precisely to His mercy. The spirit of the demon, on the contrary, excites, exasperates, and makes us in our sorrow feel something like anger against ourselves, whereas our first charity must be to ourselves, and so if certain thoughts agitate you, this agitation never comes from God, who gives you tranquility, being the Spirit of Peace. Such agitation comes from the devil.”

[3] One day a boy told Padre Pio he was afraid he loved him more than God. Padre Pio replied: “You must love God with an infinite love, through me. You love me because I direct you to good, and to God the Supreme Good, and I am just the means that carries you to God. If I directed you not to God but to evil, you would not love any more.”

[4] The Casa Sollievo was not yet in existence. So all parties agreed that the operation should take place in the friary. When Dr. Festa had arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo a week earlier, he saw a Brother whitewashing the walls of a room, and joked with him that it would make a good operating room. “I never dreamed,” Dr. Festa said later, “tahat it was being prepared for Padre Pio’s operation.”

A friend brought Dr. Festa’s surgical instruments from Rome, and Dr. Angelo Merla arrived to assist him. Padre Fortunato, who had been in the medical corps during the war, also helped. A layman, Emanuele Brunatto, was stationed at the door as sentry.

Everything was ready for the operation – everything except the patient. He was busy He was busy hearing many confessions that morning. He also chanted a Requiem Mass for the deceased benefactors of the Capuchin Order, and gave Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Finally, at noon, he retired to the friary.

“We saw him approaching, walking very slowly,” Dr. Fest reports. “He was pallid from the sustained fatigue of the morning and from the physical pain which the hernia and his stigmata caused him.”

When Padre Pio entered the makeshift operating room, he emphatically refused any anesthetic. “If you chloroform me,” he challenged Dr. Festa, “how could I keep you from inspecting the wound in my side? You see, I have reason not to take an anesthetic. Don’t worry. When you’re finished, you will find me in the same place where you put me in the beginning.”

For at least a modicum of relief, Dr. Festa offered Padre Pio a drink of Benedictine. Padre Pio drank it right out of the bottle.

“Thank a little more,” the doctor urged. “No, that’s sufficient,” Padre Pio answered, “Otherwise we risk an internal scuffle between the Benedictine and the Capuchin.”

The operation lasted almost two hours. Padre Pio never complained. “Only once,” Dr. Festa reported, “I saw two tears roll down his cheeks as he lay there and groaned: ‘Jesus, pardon me if I don’t know how to suffer as I should.’” During the operation, everyone in the room heard an insect buzzing and scurried around to find it. “It’s not a fly,” Padre Pio said. “It’s a mosquito, there, up there, in the corner of the window,” and he pointed at it.

While the doctor was putting in the stitches after the operation, a local veterinarian, Dr. Alessandro Giuva, tried to enter the room, but the stout guard Brunatto stopped him. Tempers rose and shouts were exchanged. Padre Pio heard the commotion and called out: “If you want to take my place, Alessandro, you can come in. The table is still warm.”

Giuva blushed. He too, had a hernia, but out of shame he had never mentioned it to anyone.

After the operation, Padre Pio was walked back to his room. There he collapsed, unconscious. Now Dr. Festa had his chance. “I confess that during this period,” the doctor admitted, “I took advantage of his condition and explored the wound over his heart, which I had reported on five years earlier. I was able to observe the same characteristics that I had noted then.

“For the love of truth and exactness, I must add only that the soft skin of the scab, which covered the wound on the left side two inches from under the nipple in the preceding examination, has not fallen off. This wound now appears fresh and of a vermillion color, in the form of a cross, and with short but conspicuous rays which spread out from the edges of the wound.”

Note: Numbers 1, 2 and 3 have  been taken from Rev. Charles Mortimer Carty, PADRE PIO THE STIGMATIST; and number 4 from Rev. John A. Schug OFMCap., PADRE PIO.

Jakarta, September 27, 2010 [Memoria of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest] 

A Christian Pilgrim (Compiler)