“Change your way of thinking!”
I was really struck the first time I realized that the root meaning of “metanoia” or “repent” was “change your way of thinking”. Since then every Lent I try to look at what needs to change in my way of thinking about what God is asking of me and specifically in terms of “whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters.”
In my early years as a priest I used to focus on what might be called personal pious practices. In recent years I have come to realize more clearly that Lent and Easter are about deepening my awareness of the kingdom. So I can no longer think just in terms of self-improvement but rather living as brothers and sisters in the kingdom.
Enter the call to change our way of thinking to include working for systemic change.
Followers of Vincent and Louise have long been known for their “hands on” response to the needs of the least among us.
Thirty years ago Blessed John Paul II reminded us of our heritage and challenged Vincentians to seek out underlying causes … and long term solutions. In effect he was reminding us of a forgotten Vincentian truth. As he matured Vincent was constantly going “upstream” to address what we would call root causes.
So the challenge I have discovered in each Lent is how to change my way of thinking from providing “a hand out” to also looking for how to provide “a hand up” out of poverty.
The Vincentian Encyclopedia offers many resources for changing our way of thinking about systemic change.
Systemic Change and Vincentian Holiness Robert Maloney CM
Systemic change study guides prepared by leaders of the Vincentian Family
1. The Great Example – Chatillon-les-Dombes
2. St. Vincent and Systemic Change
3. The Person of the Poor and Transformation
4. Vincentian Political Engagement
5. To be prophetic in the Vincentian tradition
The International Commission fostering Systemic Change recently met in Rome. See this report.
- A list of articles on this Commission visit the Vincentian Encyclopedia
- Recent references on the international site of the Congregation of the Mission
Of course the VinFormation website of FamVin has a great variety formation resources.