Clarifying Approaches • A Weekly Reflection with Vincent

by | Feb 8, 2017 | Formation, Reflections

“No, Monsieur, neither philosophy, nor theology, nor discourses can act in souls; Jesus Christ must be involved in this with us —or we with Him— so that we may act in Him and He in us, that we may speak as He did and in His Spirit, as He himself was in His Father, and preached the doctrine He had taught Him; those are the words of Holy Scripture.” (CCD XI, conference 153)

Vincent de Paul



  1. “As He himself was in His Father”… so we ought to be in the Son: an idea repeated by Mr. Vincent again and again. It was the “generative principle” of his spirituality. It could not be otherwise especially if “those are the words of Holy Scripture.” It is a principle that he would apply at many times in his life, especially when it comes to offers of new foundations. Did this lead him to “slow” decision making? … Possibly! … A question of patience… the will of God does not come through WhatsApp!
  2. Conviction is prior to “acting” or, better, prior to “deployment.” An excellent approach to the “doing” of a believer: “being to do” or “doing to be” … A permanent approach in a world where institutions or associations proliferate with an eminently practical function and which, perhaps because of this, disappear with the same speed with which they were born. Using Mr. Vincent’s words, we would have to say that they lacked “soul.”
  3. Because the “soul” in the work comes from “neither philosophy, nor theology, nor discourses,” that is, the human sciences, but from our configuration to Christ. It is not, it seems to us, a renunciation of the former but of placing it in the proper place. Moreover, both issues are not two sides of a coin, but one the consequence of the other.
  4. And this, not only in the realm of spirituality, but also projected into missionary work, so we may work in Christ, act in Christ and speak in Christ; and this means, as the text says, a bidirectional doing: to work, to act and to do from Christ and with Christ, totally configuring ourselves to Him and His Spirit. A question (better said, three in one) raises from this reflection: “What” did Jesus Christ intend with his work, with his doing?; “How” did he carry it out?; “With whom” was he associated in doing it?…

Questions for dialogue:

  1. In my work, do I have a clear idea the issue “from where”?
  2. Are our communities a reference for others on “working from Christ”?
  3. Is the “from where” important, in the “cause of the poor,” to be together with others?
  4. What philosophical and theological formation do we have to efficiently deploy the “doing and working” of Jesus Christ?
  5. Do we care, from our institutions, about our “what,” “how” and “with whom”?

Mitxel Olabuenaga, C.M.
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