The Way of St. Vincent Is Our Way. 22. Love and reverence for our Heavenly Father

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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22. Love and reverence for our Heavenly Father

But the hour will come, in fact it is already here, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; this is the kind of worshipper the Father wants. God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.
John 4:23-24

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
John 15:9-10

The spirit of our Congregation comprises those intimate personal attitudes of Christ which our Founder recommended to the members from the beginning: love and reverence towards the Father, compassionate and effective love for the poor, and docility to divine providence.
Constitutions, 6

From our Vincentian Christology, our Constitutions bring together those characteristics which are considered most important and most relevant to the missionary. Among them is love and reverence for the Father. According to Saint Vincent, this mark of the Company flows from the two fundamental virtues of Jesus1.

1. Reverence and Appreciation for God

After having explained his understanding of the significance of Jesus’ Spirit in our lives, Saint Vincent drew the conclusion that God ought to be respected, appreciate and loved:

So my brothers and sisters, we should attempt to acquire a lofty concept of God and an ever greater reverence of him. If we only had eyes that could penetrate the infinity of his excellence, what exalted sentiments of God would be ours. We would say with Saint Paul that ‘eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, nor the human mind conceived anything like it.’ God is an endless depth of gentleness, a sovereign and eternally glorious Being, an Infinite Good embracing all that is good. Everything in him is beyond our comprehension. The fact that we know that God is above our understanding should be sufficient to enable us to revere him and speak of his supreme majesty with great feelings of humility, reverence, and submission. Our respect for God will give us a continual desire to do his holy will, and to do nothing against it2.

2. We Are Made in the Image and Likeness of God to Love Him

Yes, my brother, it is true and must never be doubted, that God has always been pleased that you should love him and above all, that you should continue to love him at this moment when death is approaching. God made us in his own image and likeness in order that we might love him. For we only love what is like ourselves, if not in all aspects, at least in some. God created us with the intention of imposing on us the duty of loving him. We have been created in love and, therefore, have the means of returning this great gift of love. Seeing that sin had unfortunately ruined and defaced our resemblance to God, Jesus, the lover of our hearts, was determined to break every law of nature in order to repair this havoc. Not content with implanting the gift of his divinity in us, he decided to make himself like us, even to clothe himself with our human nature. Who then could refuse such a just and honorable duty as loving him?3

3. This Company Dedicates Itself to Leading the World to Reverence and Love for God

To love someone is to wish that person well. To love God is to desire that his name be manifested, known and honored throughout the world: it is a desire that God reign on earth, that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Saint Vincent distinguished between this affective love, which is the lover’s sentiment for the loved one, a serenity and a warmth in the loved one, and effective love, which consists in doing what is commanded and desired by the loved one. Jesus refers to this love when he says: “Whoever loves me, keeps my commandments.”

The proof of this love, the mark or effect of this love, is mentioned by Jesus: those who love him will keep his word. Now, the Word of God consists in his teaching and counsels. We will prove our love if we love his doctrine and teach it to others. According to this way of thinking, the vocation of the Company is a call to love, insofar as it concerns itself with the teaching and the counsels of Jesus Christ. The Company, therefore, dedicates itself to leading the world to reverence and love for God4.

  • Do I manifest in my daily life and activity, feelings of love and reverence of God?
  • To what extent am I able to say with Saint Vincent: “It is good to be in this world, to give thanks to our God and to make him known and loved by others?”5


O God of my heart, your infinite goodness does not allow me to share my love without first considering your love for me. Take possession of my heart and of my liberty. How can I hope for anything good, except that it comes from you? For you love me far more than I love myself. You are infinitely more desirous of my welfare, and more powerful to effect it than I am. I have nothing, and I hope for nothing, except you. You are my only good. Oh Infinite Goodness, would that I could love you as much as all the Seraphim together. But it is too late to imitate them. But at least I can offer you, with all the affections of my heart, the love of the most holy Queen of the Angels. O my God, before all in heaven and on earth, I offer you my heart, such as it is. Out of love, I adore the decrees of your Fatherly Providence in regard to your poor servant. I detest all that could separate us from one another. God of goodness, you desire to be loved by sinners. Grant that I might love you and then do with me as you will; not my will but your will be done. We pray in your name, Lord Jesus, who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.6

  1. Letter to Jean Parre, August 11, 1657, O.C., vi, 370.
  2. “On the Members of the Congregation of the Mission and Their Works,” December 13, 1658, O.C., xi, 412.
  3. Exhortation to a Dying Brother, 1645, O.C., xi, 65.
  4. “On the Love of God,” undated, O.C., xi, 736.
  5. “On the Love of God,” undated, O.C., xi, 808.
  6. Exhortation to a Dying Brother, 1645, O.C., xi, 64-65.

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