Today the Vincentian Family celebrates the feast of Blessed Frederis Ozanam, who founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Ozanam understood the dual virtues of justice and charity, once observing that “[c]harity is the Samaritan who pours oil on the wounds of the traveler who has been attacked. It is justice’s role to prevent the attack.” He was a passionate supporter of workers and his ideas ultimately helped shape the first labor encyclical on the rights of workers, Rerum Novarum. At the same time, he put tremendous energy in to directly and personally serving the needs of the poor.
Fundamental to the Vincentian charism is seeing Christ in the face of the poor. Ozanam gives us some words to ponder on this subject. He wrote:
It we do not know how to love God as the saints did, it is because we see God with the eyes of faith alone, and faith is so weak. But the poor we see with the eyes of flesh. They are present. We can put our fingers and our hands into their wounds, the marks of the crown of thorns are plainly visible on their heads. There is no place for unbelief here … You poor are the visible image of the God whom we do not see, but whom we love in loving you.
John Freund has posted a wealth of resources for the feast of Blessed Frederic Ozanam on the famvin website here.