True Compassion of Christ

In a society in which science and technology are advancing at a dizzying pace, and despite the social and industrial development that permeates large sectors of society, poverty, pain, sickness, physical and moral suffering, lack of meaning and loneliness still persist, thus engendering new poor; the Institute, as another extension of the Incarnation of the Word [1], wants to give “witness that the world cannot be transformed or offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes”[2].

“In imitation of the Incarnate Word, the Missionary of the Father, sent to the poor”[3] our Institute wants to “continue to reveal to men the merciful love of God for the human race, and to continue to incarnate it through all kinds of charitable works and thereby alleviate many of the evils that afflict mankind today”[4] because we understand that “to love God by manifesting him in concrete love for our brothers is the only possible way to love God, as Jesus Christ himself taught us”[5].

Thus, and in conformity with the marvelous charism that has been bequeathed to us “to teach Jesus Christ all that is authentically human”[6], the works of charity become for each of the members of the Institute an apt and effective means of evangelization. For this reason, and because the charity of Christ urges us[7], our duty is to “give priority to the care of the poor, the sick and the needy of every kind, practicing charity concretely as a witness”[8]. In this sense, the works of mercy – corporal and spiritual – and among all of them, especially those that put us in direct contact with disabled people, become one of the non-negotiable elements attached to the charism of the Institute, and we want them to remain so always. Because this “continues to be the royal road to evangelization”[9]. 9] In fact, we are so convinced of this that we consider the members who dedicate themselves to the works of mercy, together with the beneficiaries of these works themselves, as “key elements in the apostolic endeavor of our Institute”.

For this reason, within the great variety of apostolates that our Institute can embrace, it is our firm and final decision to “reserve a preferential place for charitable work, since it is an essential component of the evangelizing mission of the Church and an indispensable element for the evangelization of culture”[11].

11] Moreover, the works of mercy “are at the heart of the Institute”:

Because they have an irreplaceable witnessing value in every culture and circumstance. Indeed, in those countries where the explicit proclamation of the Gospel is forbidden and the only way to do so is through the silent witness of religious, the works of mercy can become the only means of evangelization.

But also because in those countries where it is possible to preach with the word, the works of mercy allow us to corroborate with works what is proclaimed[13]. For many people, even if conditioned by the many attractions of a society that is often opulent and inclined to selfishness, are more sensitive than ever to gestures of selfless love, as is tirelessly witnessed by the people who visit or are cared for in the many little homes that our religious look after.

Because works of charity allow the religious, and therefore the whole Institute, to manifest the predilection of Jesus Christ for the poor and the little ones, in such a way that the experience of working with the poor, with children abandoned by their parents, with the elderly who are not self-sufficient, with the terminally ill and without assistance, with young addicts, etc., becomes a school of life of faith for the religious. With them and in the houses of the Institute dedicated specifically to their care, the presence and action of Divine Providence are experienced in a palpable way, both materially and especially spiritually.

Moreover, this apostolate is a prodigal source of vocations. Because God, infinitely provident, will always send those who will take care of his poor and most needy, if they are cared for as he wills [14].

Aware of this, and knowing that “the priest is the man of charity”[15], the Institute strives to cultivate in its candidates “a preferential love for the poor, in whom Christ is present in a special way[16], and a merciful and compassionate love for sinners”[17]. 17] For this is what truly enables us to be credible witnesses to the love of Christ.

Ours is to be like the Good Samaritan who stops at the suffering of another man, whoever he may be, and to be compassionate; not only when it is emotionally comforting or convenient, but also when it is demanding and inconvenient [19].

19] The Incarnate Word told us: there will always be poor among you. 20] Therefore, works of charity will always be necessary. And within the Mystical Body of Christ, we, the members of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, want to stand out for the exquisite and extensive charity with which we seek to transform the world according to the spirit of the beatitudes, being in the world what Christ was: “the face of the Father’s mercy”[21].


[1] Cf. Directory of the Works of Mercy, 15.

[2] Constitutions, 1; op. cit. Lumen Gentium, 31.

[3] St. John Paul II, To the General Chapter of the Congregation of the Mission (Lazarists or Vincentians) (June 30, 1986).

[4] Directory of the Works of Mercy, 15.

[5] Ibidem.

[6] Constitutions, 31.

[7] 2 Cor 5:14.

[8] Cf. Constitutions, 174.

[9] Directory for the Evangelization of Culture, 157; op. cit. Benedict XVI, Address to the Bishops, Priests and Lay Faithful Participating in the IV Italian National Ecclesial Assembly, Fiera di Verona.

Italian National Assembly, Fiera di Verona (19/10/2006).

[10] Constitutions, 194.

[11] Directory for the Evangelization of Culture, 156.

[12] Notes of the VII General Chapter, 106.

[13] Cf. Directory of the Works of Mercy, 70.

[14] Cf. Ibidem.

[15] Constitutions, 206; op. cit. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 49.

[16] Cf. Mt 25:40.

[17] Directory of Major Seminaries, 238.

[18] Cf. Directory of Works of Mercy, 8; op. cit. St. John Paul II, Message for the XI World Day of the Sick (11/02/2003).

[19] Cf. St. John Paul II, Homily for the faithful of the Ecclesiastical Province of Los Angeles, USA (15/09/1987). [Translated from English.]

[20] Mt 26:11

[21] Misericordiae Vultus, 1.