We hope you enjoyed Part One earlier today. Continue to listen and learn about our Our Way of Life, and about five characteristics of Vincentian spirituality that everyone who wants to say #IamVincent needs to practice.
This presentation was given during the Latin American Encounter of the Vincentian Family, Guatemala – March 19th, 2015. Or have a quiet reading session. Enjoy Part Two by clicking the image to listen or download.
Christ sits with us in prayer
Vincent speaks about being contemplatives in action … he is not telling us that we have to become monks or cloistered men and women nor is he promoting a form of spiritual schizophrenia which separates the spiritual life from the apostolic (pastoral) life. Rather Vincent is encouraging us to allow Christ and his gospel to enlighten the various situations of our life. We are invited to engage in a personal dialogue with Christ about our experience among the poor: the signs and the countersigns of the Kingdom, our personal and interior reactions, community possibilities, etc.
Prayer is not something we do for God but rather is something that God does for us. In the dialogue with God, God make us more sensitive to his presence and his movement in history. God questions us, strengthens us and points out the path of love and justice and freedom
Christ enables us to be charitable
The goal of Christian spirituality is love. When speaking about Vincentian spirituality that love is more specific since it refers to the communication of mercy and solidarity to those persons who are excluded from society.
Saint Vincent spoke often about Providence which should not be understood as a form of Christian good luck. We are mistaken if we understand Providence to mean that things will turn out well. Providence is God’s desire to save all his children from evil. We are all in God’s hands and God us to create new possibilities for life: fraternity, organization, justice, reconciliation, etc. We share what we have received from God, namely, his mercy. Even when things do not turn out well, God’s Providence is still present. Christ and his followers always seek the good for their brothers and sisters and offer them the hope of something new.
Charity is not simply works and projects. Rather it is an encounter between brothers and sisters. Gustavo Gutiérrez says: You say you love the poor; what are their names? It is very possible to serve the poor without listening to them, without giving them our time and our life. Ultimately, Vincentian spirituality means we insert ourselves among the poor in order to love them as brothers and sisters.
The characteristics of Vincentian spirituality are incarnated in a lifestyle. That includes the structures of our groups, our works, our religious expressions, etc. In this gathering we are from many countries and many cultures. I will not even attempt to mention all the different possibilities. Perhaps in the small groups we can better grasp that reality. Here I simply want to mention some elements that can help us in our reflection on our lifestyle:
- Formation: We have to examine the manner in which we are preparing the members of the different branches of the Vincentian Family. Is it a formation that enables them to insert themselves into the life of the poor? Does our formation create a missionary attitude of listening and adaptation? Do we really present a Vincentian spirituality?
- Dialogue with the poor: Doing things for the poor is not enough. The more important question is: Do we approach the poor as brother and sisters who listen to them? We have to create structures and opportunities so that the poor can speak and offer an opinion with regard to our service.
- Team work: One of the signs of the Kingdom is the building up of a community. One of the signs opposed to the Kingdom is the inability to work as a team. There is a need to create bonds among the branches of the Vincentian Family, other groups and with the poor themselves.
- Apostolic Reflection: It is important to reflect upon our service on behalf of the poor. We have to ask serious and honest questions about our apostolate: what are we doing? Why do we do this in the way that we do? What are the needs of the poor? What is the origin of those needs? Who are the people that we are serving? What does the gospel tell us about our service?
Question for dialogue in small groups
Does our lifestyle (ministry, structures, expressions of our faith, etc.) lead us to a flexible response or is it an obstacle to our service on behalf of the poor?
Translated by: Charles T. Plock, CM