Our beloved country is fond of designating and even celebrating “National Days.” They range from the sublime to the ridiculous. You can file “National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day” (last Monday of January) under the “ridiculous” tab. On the other hand, and certainly more sublime, Tuesday, August 17th, has been designated National Nonprofit Day. This is a day to recognize the more than 1.6 million nonprofit organizations throughout the country instead of all those Amazon packers who probably missed their chance in January. These nonprofits are dedicated to every possible worthwhile cause under the sun, all driven by the passion and dedication of their organizers and supporters and undoubtedly worthy of long-overdue recognition.
As I’m sure you are aware, the Society of St. Vincent De Paul is a nonprofit organization. While we may not be celebrating National Nonprofit Day with much, if any, fanfare, it does prompt one to reflect on what distinguishes the Society from the hundreds of thousands of other nonprofits doing so much good in the world. It can be summed up in one word, spirituality. Our founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, put us on a dual track, where our service to the poor simultaneously leads to personal spiritual growth. While a myriad of organizations are serving those in need, the Society does so prayerfully and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We reflect specifically on the 25th chapter of Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus tells us to see Him in the faces of those in need. It is this dual-track that leads us on our journey to our heavenly home.
Love of God through the love of neighbor is what animates the Society. Consequently, the poor are not the only ones who “profit” from our nonprofit. The faithful and prayerful members of the Society are reaping profit in the form of eternal rewards. Vincentians are motivated by compassion, understanding, and generosity. This has been brought into clear focus while enduring the austerities of the global pandemic. During this particularly trying “tour of duty” when safety was paramount, we especially relied on the protective guidance of the Holy Spirit. No need for plastic bubbles when we are wrapped in a mantle of spirituality.