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Shall we remain inactive in the midst of a world which suffers so grievously? Christian charity was thus very different from philanthropy for Ozanam.He wrote, [Philanthropy is a pride for which good actions are a kind of finery and which loves to look at itself in the mirror.
In the seventh century, Samuel Hosannam had his Jewish family baptized into the Catholic Church by the local bishop, whom they sheltered from hostile royalty; the family name remained Hosannam until Frederic’s grandfather began using the Ozanam form. After prospering in the silk business in Lyon, he went bankrupt and moved to Milan, Italy.
Walking nineteen miles every day to medical school in Pavia from Milan, he completed his medical training in two years and became a doctor at the age of thirty-eight.
Ampere was a leading scientist, erudite scholar, and, perhaps most important for the eighteen-year-old Ozanam, a “pious Catholic.” He quickly formed friendships with other Catholic students, who banded together in part because the government of King Louis-Philippe, suspecting they plotted the restoration of the deposed Catholic Bourbon King Charles X, spied on them.
After a lecture at the College of France, wherein the speaker was mocking the book of Genesis, Ozanam first met Vincentian priest and friend Father Lallier, with whom he subsequently founded the apostolate known as the St.
Close Catholic friendships grounded his spiritual life and facilitated and inspired his work.
Fortuitously, as a young law student in Paris in 1831, Ozanam met Andre Ampere, who was regarded as “the Newton of electricity.” A dinner invitation soon turned into residency with the elderly Ampere and his family during his studies in Paris.even as a student, he had written to his mother, [I]f some recreation is to be allowed me, let me work in literary matters, which will adorn dry jurisprudence. His greatest academic love was for history and literature, not law, and he gained a position as a lecturer teaching those subjects at the University of Paris in 1840.In 1844, he was appointed the chaired professor of foreign literature at the University of Paris.Ozanam summarized, Our faith is weak because we cannot see God. In 1836, after receiving in August, his doctorate in law with honors, Ozanam returned to his parents’ home in Lyon. I shall not at all neglect my legal studies for that. He found collecting his fees another matter, however: “Fees come with difficulty and the relations with business people are so unpleasant, so humiliating, and so unjust, that I cannot bring myself to develop them…This profession upsets me too much.” He was decidedly unenthusiastic about the grim, difficult, fee-collecting business dimensions of a tedious law practice.But we can see the poor, and we can put our finger in their wounds, and see the marks of the crown of thorns. He had resolved as a teenager to devote his intellectual life—in whatever form of vocation and career path it may ultimately take—to further Catholicism and the work of the Church, and to demonstrate the truth of Christianity by and through history. In the spring of 1837, while practicing law in Lyon, he also began commuting to Paris to begin working on his dissertation on Dante for his doctorate in literature.The Lenten sermons suggested by Ozanam became so successful that they were institutionalized annually thereafter at the Cathedral.They featured Pere Lacordaire, who went onto become the greatest preacher of the era and who reinvigorated the Dominicans—the Order of Preachers—in France. Before regenerating France we can help at least a few of her poor.Until he was deposed in July 1830, he acted as though the French Revolution of 1789 had never occurred.He subscribed to the theocratic principle of “the union of altar and throne,” and he made sacrilege a crime, imposed heavy censorship, and placed the Church in charge of education.Though a decade older than Ozanam, Lacordaire continued a lifelong friendship with him. Vincent de Paul Society began in the spring of 1833, when Ozanam and several Catholic student friends began meeting regularly for prayer, debate, and discussion at the home of Emmanuel Joseph Bailly, a forty-year-old Catholic owner of a print shop and publisher of a newspaper. Thus I hope that all young people with similar desire will unite for charitable purposes and form a vast generous association for the comfort of the masses.A fundamental principle of the Society is its premium upon direct, personal interaction with the poor, and not on bureaucratic and anonymous administration of programs— “it was a basic rule of the Society that the members must personally visit those they were assisting.” In a letter to a cousin, he explained his hopes: [W]e are too young to intervene in the social strife. Today, there are more than a million members of the Society working on every continent. It continues to offer the opportunity to actually do something tangible and real in the alleviation of poverty and suffering, and to directly practice the corporal works of mercy.