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missionary priests, answering in no slight degree to an irregular movement made among ourselves, in a different manner, some years ago, and called “The Home Mission Society." His congregation, still existing as he formed it, was the result of his own missions, his own experience, his own labours and preachings among a people long neglected and demoralized. In his own parish his preaching awakened two young ladies who had been before then awake to the world and the things of the world only. They were converted, and thenceforth devoted themselves, just as we see ladies among ourselves always do, to the service of others, living not to themselves but to Him Who died for them and rose again.
The Father, whose children they were in CHRIST JESUS, soon left them to themselves, or rather to Him Whose Spirit and Grace were with them. When he returned again to that place, one of these ladies, who had not gone back in his absence, asked him, as he went up to the pulpit, to mention to the hearers the case of a poor family who were in much want. He did so, and with the usual result, a plenary one, for the poor people were so overloaded with provisions of all kinds, that one might almost be reminded of the scene on the sea of Galilee, when the men who had toiled all night and taken nothing, were at once unable to drag their net to shore. The eloquent and pathetic preacher, whose power consisted in simplicity, saw an abundant result of his charitable appeal. He praised a zeal which did not, (as they were all to be single women,) in the way we shall now relate in the following extracts, which it is necessary to remark, speak of a period some years after the formation of the aforesaid association of charity.
“ The application with which Vincent de Paul, who was then established in Paris, at Saint Lazare, laboured for the reform of the clergy, did not cause him to forget the necessities of the country poor. He had formed the Confreries de la Charité everywhere he could; but neither himself nor his missionary priests could visit them, except very rarely. It was to be feared that the first warmth of an association so useful would slacken by degrees, if there was not some person capable of going among them from time to time, to animate their exertions, and kindle among them that spirit of mercy which should be the principle of their charitable union.
“God sent him a worthy instrument for such a work, in a pious and talented widow named Le Gras, who at his desire undertook for several years to travel from place to place among the various branches of this association, visiting them in each parish, calling together on her arrival in any place or village, the women who composed the association of charity in that place, instructing, animating, directing, or helping them, as they had need. This did great good, but still, owing to all the various accidents of life to which persons living in the world, with all its engagements and necessary duties, must be exposed,
it was found after a course of years that more was wanted.”
Thus speaks a Priest of Vincent's missionary congregation.
“ It was not enough that the father of the poor had established a congregation of Priests almost solely devoted to their service; Heaven willed that he should establish also one of women, wbose zeal should have as it were a still more extended scope, and who, without regard to age or sex, could perform all those offices which the apostolic ministry and the modes of society did not permit those priests to do. As the formation of the great establishment of which I speak is essentially united with the history I am writing, I must make known its origin, its functions, its progress.
“About seventeen years had passed from the time when Vincent de Paul had established the Confreries de la Charité in favour of sick poor. This association had passed from the country into the towns, and a good number of ladies of high condition had joined it. But all that which rendered their assemblies more brilliant rendered them also less useful. The first ladies had been those whose piety led them to serve the poor in their own person ; but of those who came after them many joined the association because it was the fashion ; others, truly, acted from purer motives, but then their husbands feared for them the effects of the bad air of sick rooms, and would not allow them to follow the dictates of their
Now there are those of the French Protestants who deny that Vincent de Paul was the first projector of the work of Christian charity which has carried his name to the ends of the earth. They say it began on their side; that it was the Protestants of France who began it and set him the example he followed. The author of the good work is, I believe, only know in the unhappy annals of their long suffering people. I think his name was Robert Le Marc. What I have been told by some of them is, that soon after the Bible in their own tongue began to be known, Robert Le Marc wishing to revive the scriptural institutions of which some hints are scattered in the Bible, especially in the Epistles, established an institution which I
to be founded on that of which St. Paul seems to say Phæbe was a member when he commended her as a servant of the Church. And it is, I believe, on this authority, and to revive this defunct order that the interesting, and very
Protestant Institution of Deaconesses was founded about thirteen years ago in Paris.
What became of the original one instituted by Robert Le Marc, or Robert Marc, I do not think is now known; it probably underwent the fate which institutions among ourselves frequently do, and ceased to exist. Mere zeal will not keep such things alive, for zeal itself will die. If dependent on the zeal, the protection, the guidance, direction of any. thing external to itself, a religious work has no security, no source of uninterrupted action; it must,