Friday, September 27, 2013

September 27th: St. Vincent de Paul: Love is creative to infinity

"As he read Abelly's life of St. Vincent, Lowder was struck by the resemblance between aspects of the contemporary English Church and the Church in France at the end of the sixteenth century in which, Abelly wrote, the clergy were worldly and undisciplined and the people, in consequence, neither instructed nor assisted in their spiritual duties................ Persuaded that that the remedies which St Vincent adopted in seventeenth century rural France might be applied to England two hundred years later, Lowder determined to form a secular body of priests, roughly corresponding to St Vincent's Prêtres de la Congrégation de la Mission. To this end Lowder consulted five other Anglo-Catholic London clergy................ and with them, on 28 February 1855, founded the Society of the Holy Cross, or S.S.C.  as the Society was known from its Latin initials."
L.E. Ellsworth: Charles Lowder & the Ritualist Movement [DLT London 1982]

Perhaps the most quoted saying from St. Vincent de Paul, at least now days, is  "love is creative even to infinity".  These words are often cited to encourage people to be creative in helping the poor but their original intent was something quite different. In 1645 St. Vincent was visiting a dying brother to bring him the Blessed Sacrament and the longer quote is this: "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". It is testimony to God's creativity not ours. The problem in many cases with folks who fancy themselves champions of the poor is they forget their own poverty. One thing that is abundantly clear is that St. Vincent fought not only poverty but also in his soul the world, the flesh and the devil. Love is eager to do all it can. We cannot be inventive to infinity but Almighty God can. May St. Vincent  pray for us especially that we be delivered from our delusions about ourselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fr. Allen, that's quite interesting. I hadn't previously known the origin of Society of the Holy Cross. As far as your own comments, particularly the last: I devoutly hope so. Best, Brent