“God also works incessantly from outside himself in the creation and preservation of this great universe, in the movements of the heavens, in the influences of the stars, in the productions of land and sea, in the nature of the atmosphere, in the regulation of the seasons, and in all that beautiful order we observe in nature, which would be destroyed and return to nothingness if God was not constantly guiding it.”
Vincent de Paul (CCD:IX:Conference 43).
- The first vision that Vincent de Paul has of God is that of a working God. In another text he states that “he works continually, he has continually worked and will work.” And he does it from all eternity to beget the Son and, together with him, eternally produce the Holy Spirit. A vision possibly assumed from Vincent’s vital situation in the childhood of his longed Landes, where everything that was obtained was based on the effort of the arms, the fatigue of the feet and the sweat of each day, to simply survive. It is true that —let’s face it— God does not get tired and, therefore, we will have to think what us, simple mortals, understand with “continually.” The Benedictine norm tones this very wisely: eight hours of work, eight hours of rest, eight hours of prayer.
- A malicious saying said that the “vincentian father” was a person who got up at five AM to do nothing for the rest of the day. Maybe, I say, what he did he did with “quality” and did not need more. Maybe I’m wrong. The fact is that Vincent does not give truce to the “working” God. He used a second of his time (an eternity) to create the universe, the sky, the stars, the earth and the sea, the air, the seasons … Nature! and he continues “keeping it,” preoccupied with “greatness,” “movements,” “influences,” “regulation” … He has no time to get bored playing cards with his “buddies,” the saints!
- In my opinion this vision must be modernized, updated. It is a vision that starts from a purely deterministic concept in which the management itself does not fit, neither of the world nor of the person: “if God did not put his hand on it ceaselessly … nature would be destroyed and returned to nothingness.” Where are the rules of the Universe itself? Where is the freedom of the human being? … It is correct that God acts … but that it is with the effort of our arms, at least of those that want to strive.
- All this to justify that we must work in time and out of time. Perhaps, among others, I understand life as “work” but, in no way, as an “obsession with work.” “Leisure” is as vital a dimension as “business.” A “leisure” (nothing to do with “idleness”) that must respond to three spaces: rest, fun, development. For now let’s review the creationist biblical account: “the seventh … rested.” It is true that, sometimes, we start at the end and we eternalize the rest, the stop, the meals … The human being knows how to take advantage of the circumstances!
Questions for dialogue:
- Is your life a living to work, or a work with quality?
- Are we an example, as a community, of being workers?
- Are we concerned in our works of being efficient or effective?
- Do we have space to have fun in our lives and in our Communities?
Mitxel Olabuenaga, C.M.