Year of Youth 2018

Lent: Thanksgiving Thursday - Saint Vincent De Paul Society Volunteer Reflection

Last edited 14th February 2018

Thanksgiving Thursday - Saint Vincent De Paul Society Volunteer Reflection

As Christian's we are all challenged to see the face of Christ in everyone we meet. As Christ tells us in Matthew:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

As a member of the St Vincent De Paul Society I visit the less fortunate in their homes and provide what assistance I can. As Vinnies members we pray this prayer before we go out on visits:

"Lord please help us to assist the poor and disadvantaged to the best of our ability in a way that is best for them and help us to see your face in theirs, Amen."

To see the face of Christ in all those I encounter can be pretty challenging at times. Whether it be when I encounter a drug user or when someone is abusing me for not giving them what they wanted. Sometimes it's difficult to see past the initial judgement of someone as a junkie or addict and see them as a beautiful human being created by God in his image. The St Vincent De Paul Society was started in Paris in 1833 by a 20 year old student Frederic Ozanam. At the time France was going through a period of change. Religion was on the decline and atheism increasing. A period not dissimilar to our current day.

It was the taunt of an anti-religious opponent in a debating society founded by the students that stung him to action:

"You are right Ozanam when you speak of the past! In former times Christianity worked wonders, but what is it doing for mankind now? And you, who pride yourself on your Catholicity, what are you doing now for the poor? Show us your works"

Frederic Ozanam gathered a few friends around him and on 23 April 1833, they met to decide what they could do to assist the poor. After the meeting Frederic and his flat mate took the remainder of their winter wood supply and gave it to a widow. These young men attracted the comment "What can seven young men hope to achieve in alleviating the suffering of Paris?" Fortunately Ozanam paid little heed to their comments, determined to satisfy his own conscience that he was doing what he could to bear witness to his Christian upbringing by assisting those less fortunate in the community.

The small group decided to adopt the name The Society of St Vincent de Paul after the Patron Saint of Christian charity. They sought the advice of Sister Rosalie Rendu, a Daughter of Charity who was visiting poor families in one of the poorer districts. Sr Rendu introduced the young men to people they could assist. They agreed to meet weekly to strengthen their friendship and to respond to the needs of those they served.

[Credit to the Saint Vincent De Paul Society for the above text:]
Frederic's opponent may well have been using the bible to taunt him as his "Show us your works" might have come from James 2:14-17

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” I am forever thankful to Blessed Frederic Ozanam for creating the St Vincent De Paul Society.

The Society makes it easy to get involved with works of Charity and there is great comfort in the sense that I know I am part of a world wide society with the aim of bringing the love of Christ to the poor.

Vinnies has many good works. The main work being our Parish conferences, who help the poor in their area via home visits. We also have the shops, whose profits go to supporting our good works, Night Patrol, Matt Talbot homeless shelter, Women's refuges, the list goes on.

Blessed Frederic is also a great example to me of a lay man who was devoted to the faith, his family and his works of charity. Volunteering definitely reminds me of how blessed I am and have been. In the opportunities I have had and the family and friends I have. It is also a stark reminder of the dangers and sad consequences of drug and alcohol abuse, and the downward spiral that people who suffer from addictions can get caught in. "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

by Damien Fewtrell.

Viewed (2388)    Commented (2)

Patrick Quirk
Like Report Abuse    #1
Patrick Quirk wrote at 11:45am on February 15th 2018
Great reflection. Thank you!
Michael Nowik
Like Report Abuse    #2
Michael Nowik wrote at 8:06am on April 1st 2018
Interesting and smart post. I really hate what alcoholism and narcomania does to people. Its degrading them. I think that substance abuse is a form of hedonism and we dont like hedonism as catholics. This is true, that it is a form of hedonism and by fighting hedonism you could get (one way atleast) at alcoholism and narcomania.