Abelly: Book 2/Chapter 13/Section 10

From Vincentian Encyclopedia

Monsieur Vincent Preserved Always an Inviolable Fidelity to the King and a Constant Devotion to His Service, Even During Most Perilous and Difficult Times

It does not suffice to give to God the things which pertain to God, for in keeping with the maxim of the Gospel we must also give to Caesar the things which pertain to Caesar. The same law which binds us to adore God, to obey him, and to love him above all else, also requires that we honor and respect kings. They are images of his sovereign majesty upon earth, and we are to give them the affection and service due them, and keep an inviolable fidelity to them. Christian princes have an advantage over all other monarchs who do not believe in Jesus Christ. Their subjects are attached to them, not only by the bonds of the laws, or by the fear of their sovereign power, or by the favors they might expect from their liberality, but by stronger and nobler bonds. These come from divine law, and from the tenets of their religion.

They cannot fail in their duty to the king without contravening God's will. The obedience, respect, and fidelity they give to him are not founded on him alone, but on God. He regards as being done for himself what is done for those he has established upon earth as his visible representatives in the governing of peoples. It follows that among the subjects of a Christian prince those who are the most faithful, obedient, and attached to his service are those who are the most virtuous, those most united to God by grace and charity. On the other hand, we should not expect from those who are lacking in what they owe to God, a consistent fidelity, nor a sincere attachment to the service of their prince.

With this understanding, it should not be difficult to infer from what has been said in this Book Two and even in Book One, that with Monsieur Vincent's fidelity in carrying out the will of God, and zeal for his honor and glory, he should have shown such fidelity to the king and such singular attachment to his service. These qualities depend upon his relationship with God. The measure of the affection and fidelity to one's prince is found in one's attachment to God.

Besides this very strong general consideration, we can produce other proofs, more particular and no less convincing if we recount how this saintly man proved himself a servant of the king during the most difficult and perilous times. He risked his material welfare, his life, and his entire Congregation, in showing himself faithful to the service of His Majesty.

The deplorable state of affairs in France during 1649, 1652, etc., are still fresh in memory. We could say of those times that by a secret judgment of Providence, God had permitted the depths of the abyss, spoken of in the Sacred Scriptures, to be opened and its noxious vapors spread over the entire kingdom.

It filled the minds of the French with a darkness so obscure that some among them lost all sense of the duty they owed their sovereign. Even though they may have retained an affection for him personally, their actions betrayed this sentiment. While thinking they were working and fighting for his service, their armies were disputing his authority by killing some of his most faithful servants, and despoiling and ruining all parts of his kingdom.

Just as a bright star shines the more brilliantly when surrounded by clouds which serve only to emphasize its light, we could say these troubles of the nation served to allow the perfection of his fidelity to the king and his zeal in his service to appear. During those deplorable times, confusion was so great in many places that most loyal Frenchmen and those most attached to the interests of their prince, felt they could only keep quiet and groan in silence. They knew well anything they may have said would have served only to make things worse. Prudence suggested quiet, to avoid worse troubles. Monsieur Vincent, on the contrary, always so prudent and circumspect, acted differently. He openly declared himself a servant of the king, and promised obedience to his directives. Not content with assuming this posture for himself, he strove to have others share his attitude. His voice could be heard only where he was, but his letters to various people carried his message, especially those to bishops, as was reported in Book One. In them he persuaded the bishops to remain in their dioceses and to use their influence to confirm their people in obedience to the king.

He showed his fidelity to the king and his zeal for his service when, at the risk of his own welfare and that of his Company, he went to find Their Majesties at Saint Germain en Laye after they left Paris, to offer them his services. He left as a prey to their enemies his house of Saint Lazare and all his dear confreres. After the example of their father, they, too, suffered with patience and even with joy, seeing themselves despoiled of their goods and maltreated on this occasion.

What makes his commitment to the service of Their Majesties shine forth still more clearly is his thought of giving some advice that he felt was helpful and even necessary in the affairs of state. He did so despite his fear that he would not be favorably received by those holding the reins of government. He ran the risk of losing favor at court, but he preferred this, and even disgrace in the eyes of Their Majesties, than to fail in what he saw as an opportunity to be of service. Her Majesty the Queen appreciated his sincere heart and received his suggestions well. Cardinal Mazarin gave him a favorable audience, well aware that he had no other goal than to be of help. Even though they did not follow his advice, this in no way diminished the appreciation his fidelity and affection merited. It was recognized that he had the courage to risk his standing in court, rather than fail in giving a suggestion he felt was helpful for the good of the kingdom.

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Abelly: Book Two/Last Chapter/Section Ten
Monsieur Vincent Preserved Always an Inviolable Fidelity to the King, and a Constant Devotion to His Service, Even During Most Perilous and Difficult Times

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Abelly: Book Two/Last Chapter

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Abelly: Book Two