Standing in the midst… – Sr. Eileen McGrory

by | Apr 28, 2014 | Sisters of Charity, Vincentian Family

scny-sealFounders’ Day ~ April 24, 2014 ~ College of Mount Saint Vincent, Bronx, NY

 433rd anniversary of the birth of St. Vincent de Paul
Reflections by Sister Eileen McGrory, SC

In today’s gospel [Luke 24: 35-48] we hear the words, “Jesus stood in their midst and said to themPeace.” And we will hear these words several times during this Easter season of the Church.

Saint Vincent de Paul whom we honor and remember specially today did just that.

About four centuries ago in 17th century France, he stood in the midst of the people and spoke Peace!

He spoke it to the homeless, to abandoned children, to prisoners, refugees, the physically and mentally ill, to those displaced by war and famine, to those in slavery.

He stood in the midst of people on the margins of society in his time and spoke Peace.

Four centuries later none of us has to strain to imagine people who have these labels today. We find the poor all around us today – and we are invited to do as Jesus did, as Vincent did – stand in their midst and speak Peace.

  • How did this man Vincent de Paul do this – stand in the midst of the poor and speak Peace?

He did it with a heart of CHARITY, with a love of God and neighbor.

Vincent didn’t just wake up one day with a heart full of charity. It was by little steps, by small simple acts of kindness for those towards whom society was showing no kindness. He opened his eyes and his heart and his ears to the cry of the poor and the message of the gospel. And he gradually became a man on fire with CHARITY, WITH LOVE.

Here is a quote in Vincent’s spirit that we can burn into our own hearts: “It is only for your love that the poor will forgive you the bread that you give them.”

  • How did this man Vincent de Paul do this? – stand in the midst of the poor and speak Peace?

He did it with great CONFIDENCE IN GOD. In today’s first reading [Acts 3:11-26] we hear the apostles say to the people incredulous to the miracle just performed, “Don’t look at us as if this man walks because of our power or our piety. It is the work of God through us.”

Vincent’s way to name this work of God was PROVIDENCE.  Vincent always reminded his followers –

Providence can provide, Providence did provide, Providence will provide – and let us be careful not to run ahead of Providence.

  • How did this man Vincent de Paul do this – stand in the midst of the poor and speak Peace?

He did it with CREATIVITY.  He knew he couldn’t be of assistance to the poor all alone. He knew he had to mobilize others in his service of Charity.

So he engaged the rich and those with power with the challenge of the gospel.

He knew the heart of the young sought service for others and so he appealed to them.

Vincent was even creative enough to know he needed women to bring hearts of compassion and minds of practicality to the streets and the homes of the poor – and this in a century when women were told by society and church, “Stay home!  stay in the cloister!  Stay away!”

Vincent lived by the words he instilled in his followers,

“Love is inventive, even to infinity!”

You and I are descendants of this man, Vincent de Paul, after whom this College is named by its founders, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of New York.

All of us are members of the Vincentian Family, a family with over three million members world –wide, all doing what Jesus  and Vincent did –

Standing in the midst of the poor wherever the need is seen – 

Standing with great Charity with Confidence in Providence, with the Creativity demanded by the needs of our world.

Let us do the same – stand in the midst of the people we meet each day – and speak Peace!!

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