The Society of Saint-Vincent de Paul is above all a school of Faith.
Through home visits, members are called to conduct an encounter, that of Christ, God Himself, present and hidden amongst the Poor: “we should fall at their feet and say alongside the Apostle: ‘You are our masters and we are your servants, you are for us the sacred image of a God that we can not see, and in not knowing how to else-wise love, we will love you as individuals. (Blessed Frederic Ozanam)
Unlike “philanthropic societies”, which “distribute funds”, but (in which) “one can not feel the heart beat” the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is dedicated to “sharing its tears with the poor (…), embracing and gathering up the naked and abandoned infant, (…) and listening to, without showing signs of frustration, the long and distressing tales of the unfortunate (…)” (Blessed Frederic Ozanam).
Article 1.2 of the Rule expresses this when calling us all to make the most vunerable know of “the liberating love; full of the tenderness and compassion of Christ”.
This allows us to touch the wounds of the suffering Christ and to also live the orginal founding experience of coming close to God, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul sets out a path of holiness, accessible to greater numbers, that which is witnessed through the exemplary lives of numerous Vincentians.
“Philanthropic societies do not maintain these elements of strength and longevity due to the fact that their foundation is only based on purely human interests. One sees the distribution of money, but one does not feel the heart beat. This charity, which shares its tears with the poor, knowing no other way to console; that embraces and gathers the naked and abandoned infant; that advises the shy youth on friendship; that sits with empathy at the bedside of the sick; that listens to, without showing signs of frustration, the long and distressing tales of the unfortunate. This charity (…) can only be inspired by God.” (Blessed Frederic Ozanam).