“One thing you may find very helpful is to call to mind the virtues of your Sisters who have died, which were very great; and I have no doubt that there are several saints among them. You’ll find in them the marks of the true spirit of the Daughter of Charity. Try to imagine what they were, what they did, and spur yourselves on to imitate them.” (CCD IX, conference 50).
Vincent de Paul
- Mr. Vincent has a very personal way of “looking at” death. We see this in his conferences with the Daughters of Charity and the Missionaries: he gathers and encourages them to expose in public some of the virtues of the deceased, not to praise the dead but to improve those who listen. Mr. Vincent uses this to insist on the virtues we must have; in this case, a Daughter of Charity: charity, humility and simplicity.
- The “virtues” (both for the Daughters of Charity, three, and for the Missionaries, five) are the “mirror of the human being,” the “display of intentions,” the “signs” which they will be recognized for. Therefore, when he speaks of holiness, he identifies it with the reflection of the virtues in life (“You’ll find in them the marks of the true spirit of the Daughter of Charity”).
- It is not strange that Mr. Vincent affirms in another text: “How pleased God is with a Sister who strives to acquire these virtues!” Very interesting is the nuance of “striving to acquire,” very specific, on the other hand, of St. Vincent’s thinking. Then he adds: “He loves that Sister; He takes His delight in her; she’s like a beautiful sun in His eyes; He points her out to the blessed and to our dear Sisters now in heaven.” (CCD IX, conference 51).
- Let’s finish this reflection with a new text by Saint Vincent, on this matter of virtues: “If there’s anything in the world for which you should ask God, it’s your spirit; and if you must give yourselves to God for any purpose, it’s for that one. So then, may this spirit always be apparent in your coming and going; may people always see the spirit of charity, humility, and great simplicity, and that you never make use of craftiness. If you live in this spirit, dear Sisters, how propitious charity will be, how you’ll honor it, how it will grow!” (CCD IX, conference 52).
Questions for dialogue:
- What efforts do I make to acquire the Vincentian virtues?
- What efforts does my community make to influence the environment from these virtues?
Mitxel Olabuenaga, C.M.
Tags: Mitxel Olabuenaga