Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 30 July |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Solanus Casey
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Bl. Frédéric Ozanam believed lay people were the key to healing a broken world

Frédéric Ozanam

Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 09/27/19

The founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul said that when the world rejects priests, lay people need to step up.

At times it is tempting to step back and complain about the corruption of society. Everything is falling apart and civilization is in shambles. Oddly enough this is not a new point of view, as people in every age of history have said similar things.

While there is always some truth to such statements, the key is to not sit idly by and watch the world crumble. Instead, let us learn from Bl. Frédéric Ozanam, a French layman of the 19th century who quietly changed the world through his Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

He viewed civilization in a similar vein of thought and was upset by the corruption he saw all around him. Ozanam wrote to a friend, “Are we not, like the Christians of those early times, thrown into the midst of a corrupt civilization and a society that is falling to pieces?”

Yet, he did something about it.

He goes on to explain that,

«Equal evils, therefore, demand an equal remedy; the world has grown cold, and it is for us Christians to rekindle the vital fire.»

In the same letter Ozanam illustrates the remedy that will heal a broken world by comparing it to the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Humanity in our times is very much like the traveler in the Gospel: While journeying along the road traced out for it by Christ, it was seized upon by robbers, by wicked men, who despoiled it of all it possessed, the treasure of faith and love, and left it naked and moaning, lying by the wayside. The priests and the Levites passed, and this time, as they were true priests and Levites, they drew nigh to the sufferer whom they fain would have healed, but in his delirium he did not recognize them and thrust them from him.Let us in our turn, poor Samaritans that we are, weak and of little faith, draw near to the wounded man. Perhaps he will not take fright at us, being only what we are, but will let us try to probe his wounds and pour balm into them; let us breathe words of consolation and peace into his ear, and then, when his eyes are opened, we will place him in the hands of those whom God has constituted the guardians and physicians of souls, and who are, so to speak, our hosts on the road of our pilgrimage here below, since they feed our famished spirits with the word of life and the promise of a better world. This is the task that is before us, this is the divine vocation to which Providence calls us.

Ozanam changes the parable and explains how society today rejects priests and religious and pushes them away from healing their wounds. However, the kindness and generosity of a lay person can have the effect of lowering the guard of an individual and by doing so, that lay person can present them to the priest, who can further heal the wounds in their soul.

In other words, lay people have a unique vocation in the world to exercise charity towards their neighbor, and it is through that charity that they will slowly become open to God’s healing power.

When the world has becoming increasingly suspicious of clergy, the words of Ozanam appear to confirm what is needed at this time in history.

Read more:
What happened when a 20-year-old kid stopped talking and starting doing

Read more:
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul: Ending Poverty Through Systemic Change

SaintsSpiritual Life
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
Mathilde De Robien
Did you know Princess Di was buried with a rosary?
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been know...
Lauren Daigle
J-P Mauro
After 3 years Lauren Daigle ousts herself from #1 Billboard spot
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.