- On our real life conditions.
Our standard of living, in general, does not come close to that of the real poor in our society. Many who are near us have no fixed jobs and have to hold on to anything to survive… In many cases, our standard of living is also far away from that of normal families, “middle class,” at least in some important respects.
We in consecrated life do not know (and, often, do not care) what to apply for a job is like, to pay the mortgage, to worry about preparing food for the family, or to do weekly laundry and clean the house daily…
Speaking confidentially with lay people who like us and live close to us, one comes to realize that, unfortunately, they also have the same opinion about a good number of priests and religious…
I think the new criterion of evangelical poverty should include, without question, the advice that we spend as many hours of actual daily work as a poor person really needs to spend in order to survive.
It is fair to say, though, that there are still workers among us, perhaps the majority, who never run out of energy and are impervious to fatigue and discouragement. These people have the need to work more hours to achieve their personal and community goals. Let us use their example to spur others on. There are a thousand ways to do so in a discreet manner, without embarrassing anyone. Creative imagination can help us here.
The year of Vincentian collaboration is a propitious time to propose calmly and boldly, as a priority project for the entire Vincentian Family, the following operational lines of action:
- Create sufficient and appropriate basis for the hopeful work of the members of the whole family;
- Give impetus to the pastoral and evangelizing creativity in all our projects and social actions.
- Encourage those working with enthusiasm, even if they have faults. Those who move are the only ones who stumble. Those who are committed are the only ones to experience shortcomings and gaps.
- Foster among those who have little to do the spirit of work and real solidarity with the poor; cultivate among them, in any case, unconditional readiness to accept willingly any work or task entrusted to or asked of them as individuals or as members of the Vincentian Family.
- Overcome hopelessness and disillusionment with effort and encouragement. It is good to remember from time to time that our distinctive feature is unconditional readiness to serve the poor, to give everything, even life itself, with tender mercy, just as the Master did. We find Vincent and Louise among his better standard-bearers…