The Way of St. Vincent Is Our Way. 11. To think as the Church

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoCharismLeave a Comment

Author: Miguel Pérez Flores, C.M. & Antonino Orcajo, C.M. · Translator: Charles T. Plock, C.M.. · Year of first publication: 1986.
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11. To think as the Church

This is my daily preoccupation: an anxiety for every one of the Churches. When any one has had scruples, I have had them also; when anyone stumbles, I am in pain.
2 Corinthians 11:28-29

… the Congregation of the Mission, faithful to the Gospel, and always attentive to the signs of the times and the more urgent calls of the Church, should take care to open up new ways and use new means adapted to the circumstances of time and place. Moreover, it should strive to evaluate and plan its works and ministries, and in this way remain in a continual state of renewal.
Constitutions, 2

Missionaries have a special commitment to the Church. They consecrate their whole self to her service and are attentive to her voice speaking through the hierarchy and through the People of God. According to Saint Vincent, three attitudes teach us how to think as the Church thinks.

1. Come, Father, Do Not Delay

Saint Vincent says it was the poor who called Monsieur DeCoudray from his work in Rome translating the Bible:

Ah, Monsieur DeCoudray, God’s providence chose you from eternity to be our second redeemer. Have mercy on us because we are ignorant of what we need to know to be saved, and we have not confessed our sins properly—indeed, without your help we might be condemned forever.1

2. To Make His Holiness Understand That the Poor Are Condemned

Saint Vincent was convinced that if the Pope had known the true state of spiritual abandonment of the poor, he would not have hesitated to do the things which, for lack of information, he did not do. The Pope would approve the Congregation if he knew what we were trying to do and if he understood the problems we hope to remedy.

It is urgent that he (the Roman Pontiff) understand that the poor are condemned, since they do not know what is necessary for salvation, nor do they confess their sins. If his Holiness felt this necessity, he would not rest until he did everything feasible to remedy this situation. It is this situation that has moved us to seek the approval of the Holy See for the establishment of the Congregation of the Mission.2

3. That the Company Will Go Wherever the Holy Father Wills

For Saint Vincent, the voice of the hierarchy, especially of the Pope, was a clear sign of God’s call. Just as Vincent was personally ready to listen to the voice of the Church, so too, he expected the same of the Congregation. For Saint Vincent, this is the offering the Congregation makes to the Pope. In a letter to Monsieur Lebrenton, Saint Vincent wrote:

… I had gone to celebrate the Eucharist. The following thought occurred to me: since in this world, the power to mission resides in the person of the Pope, he must have power to send forth any ecclesiastic to any part of the world, for the greater glory of God and the salvation of his children. Ecclesiastics have the obligation, then, to obey him. According to this principle, it seems correct to have offered this poor Company to the Divine Majesty, to go wherever his Holiness desires.3

  • Do I feel confident that I know and feel the great problems facing the Church?
  • To what degree am I committed to the urgent needs of the Church?
  • As a member of the Congregation, do I live for myself or for the Church?


Almighty God, grant us the grace to listen to the cry of the Church and the grace to answer that cry quickly and consistently, so that, cooperating with the Church as she offers salvation to the whole world, we might make effective your plan for the sanctification of the world and the fellowship of all people. We ask this through Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

  1. O.C., i, 286.
  2. O.C., i, 176-177.
  3. O.C., ii, 45.

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