“There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning “favor,” “gratuitous gift,” “benefit.” Whatever their character – sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues – charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., 2003.
As explained here by the Catechism, a charism, or a gift or favor, is given by the Holy Spirit to a person or group of people for the building up of the Church. Vincentians seek to follow the charism of St. Vincent de Paul (and of Christ himself) which is to bring the gospel to those who are poor (Luke 4:18).
St. Vincent understood that when serving and ministering to the poor, we are serving and ministering to Christ himself. To minister to the poor is transformative; it is to follow Jesus’ direct call. In order to be a successful servant to the poor and bring the Gospel to them, St. Vincent taught his missionaries five virtues: simplicity, humility, meekness, mortification, and zeal.
The virtue of simplicity is found in telling the truth and being sincere before God and all others. Humility is complete self-awareness in one’s sinfulness and need for God. Meekness is unconditional kindness and gentleness regardless of the situation. Mortification is complete self-control, discipline and denial, a virtue that calls for bearing all hardships with no sense of self-importance. Zeal is incredible, live-giving energy to do the work of sharing the Gospel.
Vincentians must use these virtues when working for educational programs for the laity to empower them to care for the poor, when teaching and modeling the charism of Vincent in a university or seminary, or when leading parish missions in poor areas.