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Are you looking for a mini-retreat with which to close the year and begin the new year? You might consider using the reflections of Vinícius Augusto Teixeira, CM of Province of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). In a short article Saint Vincent de Paul: Mystic of Charity and of the Mission, he provides us with material inspired by Fr. Father Tomaž Mavrič’s first homily and again in his first circular letter.

For many of us, the words Vincentians and mystics are not words we usually put together. Now we are being asked to consider that

Without a renewed mysticism that is nourished by a profound experience of God, the Vincentian charism and the mission that originates from it would lack principle, vitality and a prophetic dimension … it would be like a house built on unstable and sandy terrain.

The article can be divided for three days of reflection. Of course, nothing prevents us from reading it in its entirety and devoting time to it over three days. CMGLOBAL will offer it in three installments.

On July 2nd, 2016 (within the context of the XLII General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission), Father Tomaž Mavrič, in his first homily, invited us to rediscover and develop the mystical dimension of our charism … thus, following the inspiration of Saint Vincent, the mystic of charity.

This invitation was repeated in Father’s first circular letter (September 19, 2016), published on the occasion of the feast of our founder.  In that letter, each one of us was requested to respond personally to the question: why and how I can describe Vincent as a Mystic of Charity.

We know that some of those who are knowledgeable in Vincentian spirituality and history have done this very expertly.  This was very clear in the circular letter as Father General asked three Missionaries to share their insights on this matter: Fathers H. O’Donnell, R. Maloney and T. McKenna.  At the same time we are grateful for the writings and work of L. Abelly, H. Brémond, A. Dodin and J.M. Ibáñez.

In addition to them (who now rest in peace) we could add the names of many others: A. Orcajo, G. Toscani, L. Mezzadri, J.P. Renouard, G. Grossi, etc.

We are indebted to these experts for their insights … we are indebted to them because with reverence and passion they probed the heart of St. Vincent and have given us the intuitions of this mystic, intuitions that are capable of quenching our thirst, capable of impelling our search for God and capable of making fruitful our charity and our mission with the poor.

No matter how significant and relevant the contributions offered by this illustrious group of historians, the question about Vincentian mysticism remains valid and the task of recreating it has not lost any of its urgency.

The celebration of the 400th anniversary of the concretization of the charism (2017) should be seen as an appropriate time to ask the question anew and resume the task … thus making this an opportune moment for the spiritual and apostolic revitalization of the whole Family that is nourished by this Vincentian mysticism.

In fact, this mysticism enflames the charism received and transmitted by Vincent de Paul, makes it dynamic, attractive, and capable of faithful and bold recreations.  This dynamic occurs within the different situations and contexts in which we, members of the Vincentian Family, are challenged by the cries of the poor, the calls of the Church and the signs of the times.

Without a renewed mysticism that is nourished by a profound experience of God, the Vincentian charism and the mission that originates from it would lack principle, vitality and a prophetic dimension … it would be like a house built on unstable and sandy terrain.

Should the association of Vincentians and mystics be so strange for us?

The next three installments …

  1. Mystics: a mystery of grace and freedom – In what sense can someone be viewed as a mystic?
  2. Vincent de Paul: a true mystic As we reflect on Vincent’s life, we find sketched out for us a multi-faceted mysticism that was rooted in a profound experience of God and an enfleshment of the spirit of Jesus Christ … both of which were nourished by a gradual process of conversion and tested by an unwavering fidelity to service on behalf of the poor.
  3. A lived and shared mysticism – Few missionaries knew how to be a mystic like Vincent de Paul, just as few mystics became as active as the prophet of charity and of the mission.

Full text Saint Vincent de Paul – mysticism