The Life of Vincent de Paul (Abelly): Book II, Chapter XIII, Section IX

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoVincent de PaulLeave a Comment

Author: Louis Abelly · Translator: William Quinn. · Year of first publication: 1664.
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SECTION NINE: Various Other Activities of Monsieur Vincent While on the Council of the King

The zeal of Monsieur Vincent for everything concerning the service and honor of God made him attentive to those occasions when he might further this service or prevent anything that might oppose it. He used his good reputation in this way on the king’s council, judging that day a happy one in which he could prevent some ill or promote some good.

During the war years he tried to prevent the disorders committed by the soldiers on all sides, particularly the profanations of churches and disrespect for persons consecrated to God. Seeing it was impossible to prevent this evil entirely, he tried to lessen it. When all else failed he had recourse to God in prayer and penance, invoking the help of his grace and mercy, both for those who suffered these ills and for those who committed them.

Another disorder offensive to good morals was that of certain actors in the theaters who presented not only indecent, but scandalous topics. These could not be spoken, heard, or seen without offending God. When Monsieur Vincent was informed of this, he recognized the pernicious effects this license was apt to produce. His remonstrances led to their being completely suppressed.

The troubles of the times and various activities against the welfare of the State obliged the king to confine those guilty or even suspect to the Bastille. They received there with everything they needed, but no provision existed there for their spiritual welfare. Monsieur Vincent persuaded a priest of the Conference of Ecclesiastics held at Saint Lazare to take it upon himself to visit these prisoners and to speak to them. Morning and evening prayers were arranged, as well as some other religious practices, to the great spiritual benefit of their souls.

The demon, the enemy of peace, spread discord and provoked war in the kingdom, and sowed the seeds of disobedience and rebellion against the service of the king. He also incited some to rebel against God himself, and to attack religion in various ways. Among other things, there were those who sought to spread the maxims and damnable errors of the Illuminati. When Monsieur Vincent saw this, which had begun to spread in many places in France, especially in Paris and the diocese of Bazas, he applied such a prompt and effective remedy that this heresy was stifled in the cradle before it could do much harm to the Church.

Many seized upon the sense of freedom during the troubled times of the Fronde to permit anyone to say what he liked about religion or the state. This opened the door to another pernicious evil. This was the writing and publishing of all sorts of libels, even against faith and good morals. Monsieur Vincent spoke against this in the council and had this abuse reproved. The order was given to search out and seize such evil books, while the printers and bookstores were forbidden to publish or sell them.

This saintly man used all his energy in speaking and advising, entreating and remonstrating, against the damnable practice of dueling. This was finally happily eradicated through the piety of the queen and by the zeal and authority of the king. He from his earliest years, like a Christian Hercules, had the strength and happiness to slay this dragon. His predecessor on the throne, Saint Louis, despite his laws and ordinances against this monster, was never able to achieve this. God reserved the glory of this victory to our great monarch, and marked the first years of his reign by this heroic triumph. It has saved the bodies and souls of thousands of French gentlemen and spared an infinity of noble families from ruin and utter unhappiness. For this they are eternally grateful to him who brought about their happiness and salvation.

Monsieur Vincent did what he could to root out blasphemy, causing the ordinances to be renewed against this detestable crime. He proposed other measures which might have stopped it entirely. Although he did not live to see the effects of these measures, he must surely have gained the merit of having attempted to prevent this evil. It is to be hoped that God will someday hear the ardent prayers he offered for this, and that he will inspire our incomparable monarch [Louis XIV.] to take more effective means, even fire and the sword if he judges well of it, in imitation of Saint Louis, his predecessor, to purify the state from this infernal gangrene, which infects and corrupts it in many places, including those most important and most noble.

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