“Incarnational Theology is a theological belief that the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son, or the Logos (Word), became flesh by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos (God-bearer). The incarnation, then, is the God-man-Jesus Christ.”1
The doctrine of the Mystical Body, as well as the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 5: (Beatitudes) and Matthew 25: “I was hungry and you gave Me to eat” are the foundation of Incarnational Spirituality. In imitation of Christ’s life, a Christian sees service of others as serving Christ in the person of the Poor.
Characteristics of Incarnational Spirituality:
- Trust in the unfolding designs of God’s Providence
- Abandonment to God’s Will
- Developmental Life of Jesus, human and unfolding
- Living a life in Imitation of Christ
- Important relationship of grace and mercy
- Role of Mystical Body= ‘a God with skin’- Ronald Rolheiser OMI
- Matthew 25: I was hungry and you gave me to eat..
- Matthew 5: Beatitudes
- Eucharist as center of spiritual life: Frequent Holy Communion and Mass-
- Highly Relational: “My sister-brother’s Keeper- in service of others.
Incarnational Spirituality, as viewed in the French School of Spirituality, influenced St. Vincent DePaul and St. Louise de Marillac. It is the basis of Vincentian spirituality.2
From the writings of Raymond Deville SS. (1990) ‘St. Vincent and St. Louise in Relation to the French School of Spirituality (Pierre de Berulle, 1575-1629)’;
“Her correspondence and writings bespeak a deep concern from God’s will. She was preoccupied with knowing God’s design for her.”
- Louise had a deep respect for God, a characteristic of the theocentricism of the French School – ‘a kind of respectful and loving awe towards God.’
- The imitation of Jesus through a personal relationship with Him was a driving force in Louise’s life. Louise repeatedly spoke of the holy humanity of Jesus, a typically Berullian phrase. ‘The only way for me to find mercy, at the hour of death, wrote Louise, ‘is that moment, the imprint of Jesus Christ may be found on my soul.” (Ecrits Spirituels, p. 713)
- Mary’s place in Louise’s life and teaching was very important. She spoke of Mary more than did Vincent. Her devotion to Mary was very theological, rooted in her faith.
- Louise had great devotion to the Holy Spirit. She made a retreat between the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost.
- Finally, Louise’s emphasis on the virtues of humility, simplicity, and charity, was always connected with a call to imitate Jesus in His mysteries. She depended on her contemplation of Jesus. Her charity toward the poor called her to love them. At the same time, her charity for them flowed from her faith in Jesus present in them. (p.43)
1 Walter Drum (1910). The Incarnation. New York: Robert Appleton Co. also in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol.7.; also cited in Wikipedia. ‘Incarnation (Christianity)’
2 Raymond Deville SS (1990) St. Vincent and St. Louise in Relation to the French School of Spirituality. Vincentian Heritage Journal. 11.1. 29-44.
Sister Frances Ryan, DC, Ph.D.
LCUSA Spirituality Committee
April 20, 2014
Thanks for all the work you did on this.
For anyone interested in going further the following link points to articles on famvin.org that focus on the Incarnation in the spirituality of Vincent and Louise, etc.
Thanks, Fr. John!
Thank you, for sharing this deep and meaningful reflection on the applicaton of incarnational theology as integrated with our Vincentian call/charism. My spirit is lifted in great gratitude for my call to the Daughters of Charity and, also, during this great Easter Season! Alleluia! Sr. Jane