Today the Vincentian Family celebrates the feast of Blessed Frederis Ozanam and the bicentennial of his birth. Ozanam modeled himself after one of my great heroes, St. Vincent de Paul, and founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society, a Catholic lay organization dedicated to assisting those in need.
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.” That understanding is reflected in his work. He put tremendous energy in to directly and personally serving the needs of the poor. And he was also a passionate supporter of workers and his ideas ultimately helped shape the first labor encyclical on the rights of workers, Rerum Novarum.
On the Vincentian charism is seeing Christ in the face of the poor, Ozanam 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.
Blessings to all of my friends in the worldwide Vincentian family on this feast day.
P.S. You can find a treasure trove of information about Ozanam on the famvin website here.