SVDP CEO, Dave Barringer, reflects on how the familiar saying “the family that prays together…” applies to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He writes in his weekly column on the eve of the feast of Blessed Frederic…
It’s true; the family that prays together does stay together.
Last week’s National Assembly was marked by significant decisions to create a new disaster organization, explore improvements to Council and Conference tax exempt strategies and support to other organizations. We looked at and voted on other potentially contentious decisions, and it all went smoothly. The more than 700 Vincentians also attended many learning sessions, heard from great speakers on a wide range of important subjects and otherwise fulfilled their representative duties for their Councils.
But it all started with, and was elevated by, prayer. And not just prayers we all say silently or alone in our rooms, but together, in joyful reflections and Masses full of singing and active participation, as one Society body. The event began with more than 150 spiritual advisers learning together about the spirituality of our charism and how we can continue to feature it in our local meetings and activities.
I noticed this last year in Providence and was reminded by the activity in Columbus about the power of such prayer together. The mood changes. We become, well, nicer. We understand that we are linked in our love of our Father and in His work wherever we call home. So when we exit the Mass or the meetings we tend to treat each other as true brothers and sisters in Christ.
And when this happens, we get more done. We put aside the petty issues and personalities. We leave our egos at the door. We move our spirit and planning together toward common goals, trusting each other perhaps a little more than previously to be on the same page.
I think that Blessed Frederic and his fellow founders were on to something when they insisted that all Society meetings, from Conferences to larger groups, begin with prayer and include spiritual development as much as possible. While there is the overt goal of spiritual development, we also benefit from our prayer and reflection time together in so many other ways.
Let’s start a new conversation with our spiritual advisers about how we can better infuse prayer and spiritual study into our meetings. It may be just what we need not only to grow in Christ but also to grow in shared fellowship and advancement of our “business” goals as well. A prayerful song or two wouldn’t hurt either. You don’t need musical talent, only a shared voice in The Lord. Begin with the simple songs and grow together.
Amazing things can result. All with a prayer with our friends.
Yours in Christ,