This is the ninth of a series of formation packages meant for individual or group study which was introduced in “The Contributions of the Vincentian Charism to the Mission of the Church: A Formation Journey.” In that article, we also suggested a “Lesson Plan” for use in groups.
In the unforgettable film, Monsieur Vincent, we find Vincent speaking the following words at a time when he was being pressured by the Ladies of Charity to curb his initiatives: “It seems to me that you think I have undertaken too many things and yet I believe that I have not undertaken enough things.”
Vincent had always been very respectful with regard to tradition, rules and the hierarchy. We never see him taking “revolutionary” positions or adopting a provocative tone. He was, however, gifted with a rare ability to adapt to even the most unexpected situations.
We see that he opened his eyes and discovered situations of misery that society had created and ignored … situations of misery that could not be resolved with the means that had been put in place. We see that Vincent acted in accord with certain constants.
Vincent waited for some sign from Providence, some sign that would frequently be revealed to him through some event, for example, Vincent was enlightened by the initiative of Marguerite Naseau who came forward to serve the poor. As a result of that event Vincent would refer to her as the first Daughter of Charity.
Once Vincent decided on a specific course of action he was tireless in implementing such a solution. He dedicated himself to these new ministries and when necessary also committed the resources of the Congregation.
We do not “follow Jesus the Evangelizer of the poor” to do the same things Jesus did; rather we listen to Jesus and breathe in his words of life as we breathe out new life in a world struggling for more life, more justice and more unity in love. To love is to create, and to create is to imagine the new.
“Saint Vincent tells us: “Love is inventive to the point of infinity” (SV XI, 146). …
It will not be sociologists or economists, who study the needs of the poor by examining the data they receive. The … front-line workers will know ahead of us, because the poor will tell them directly. I want to encourage all our missionaries to be inventive in the service of the needs that you discover.” (R. P. Maloney, “On being a missionary today.”)
St. Vincent told the Daughters “And that was the beginning of your Company. As it was not then what it is now, there is reason to believe that it is still not what it will be when God has perfected it as he wants it.” Certainly words that apply to the Vincentian Family today.
- Instead of becoming immobilized (I can’t do anything more), are there other ways “to be present” to people, other ways “to serve”?
- As we analyze the causes of the new forms of poverty, how can we be creative as we confront these various situations?
See you next week!
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