Posted March 13, 2004
Book: Vincent De Paul: The Trailblazer
Author: Bernard Pujo
University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN, pp. 328
An Excerpt from the Jacket:
Vincent de Paul, the Trailblazer opens a bright window into the turbulent world of a renowned saint who lived during a time of great unrest. Bernard Pujo details how politics, war, an Vincent’s own charismatic personality served as essential elements in his construction of a vast and last web of charitable works.
Pujo introduces readers not only to the fascinating life of Vincnet de Paul (1581-1660), but also to the cultural, political, social, ecclesiastical, and economic life of France during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Pujo’s rich portrait reveals that Vincent played an active and prominent part in shaping this period of French history. In his quest to minister to the needs of the poor, Vincent counseled and challenged some of the key figures in French politics.
Vincent de Paul, the Trailblazer, describes Vincent’s childhood, his education, his life as a young priest, his skills as an organizer and manager, and his commitment to serving the physical and spiritual needs of the poor.
An excerpt from the book:
What is the secret of Vincent’s remarkable influence? He left us neither a learned treatise nor a body of doctrine, only the little volume of his Rule, a brief synthesis of theological spirituality. He was content to lay out a road, to clear the paths, inviting his disciples to continue the charitable works which he had begun. He opened the doors of the Church, teaching the clergy t work with the laity, the first who dared to value the contribution of women. And the women responded enthusiastically to his call, whether they were country girls or great ladies of the nobility.
Vincent knew how to make his work responsive to all kinds of misery, whether physical or moral, determined to remedy it and finding an appropriate solution for every situation. Thus, he was the initiator of assistance to abandoned children, to prisoners, victims of catastrophe, refugees, and housebound invalids. In all these works, he was a precursor, showing the way which is still followed today by institutions and governmental departments of social services.
Bending himself to the pattern of his model, Jesus Christ, he placed himself as the service of the poor, “who are our lords and our masters.” He taught that true charity does not consist only of distributing alms, but of helping the abject to regain their dignity and independence.
He believed in the virtue of action and he loved to use this succinct motto: Totum opus nostrum in operatione consistit (Action is our entire task).Then he would add that “Perfection does not come from ecstasy but rather from doing the will of God.”
Vincent was first and foremost a man of God, profoundly steeped in the spirit of the Gospel. He recommended long prayer and meditation before action so that one could come to recognize the divine will. One must not hurry, and that is why he counseled people not to leap ahead of Providence. Above all, this man of action was a man of prayer and deep spirituality: “You must have an inner life, everything must tend in that direction. If you lack this, you lack everything.”
The Table of Contents:
Part One In search of a substantial benefice
1. A little shepherd of the landes, 1581-1596
2. An impatient student, 1597-1605
3. Odyssey on the Barbary Coast, 1605-1607
4. A Roman sojourn, 1607-1608
5. Shaped by Berulle, 1609-1613
6. Tutor in the house of Gondi, 1613-1616
7. A decisive year, 1617
Part Two To serve the rural poor
8. The first missions, 1618-1624
9. Foundation of the Congregation of the Mission, 1624-1632
10. The Priory of Saint-Lazare, 1636-1633
11. Superior of the Mission, 1633-1635
12. The drum rolls at Saint-Lazare, 1636-1639
13. Assistance to the Lorraine, 1638-1640
14. The rule of the congregation, 1640-1642
15. The Council of Conscience, 1643-1645
16. Jansenism comes into being, 1645-1648
17. The beginnings of the Fronde, 1648-1649
18. Father of the country, 1649-1651
19. Face to face with misery, 1651-1652
20. The desolation ravaging the Church, 1653-1655
21. Kings promise easily, 1656-1657
22. The long awaited peace, 1658-1659
23. Final afflictions, 1660