This is the second of a series of formation packages meant for individual or group study based upon “The Prophetic Dimension of the Vincentian Charism in light of the Social Doctrine of the Church” by Sr. María Pilar López.
We will see how Vincent de Paul, his teaching and his life were centuries ahead of the Church’s magisterium. This statement alone made me want to read the rest of the lengthy article.
(Recent research has clearly connected the the dots between what Vincent said and did and what we think of as the social doctrine of the church as enunciated consistently since the late 19th century. No doubt this article would uncover more unsuspected connections.)
But as I read and read section two I discovered myself asking a very fundamental question. How was St. Vincent able to see so far into the future? Was he some kind of clairvoyant who could stand outside of time? Could he really see the future? Also why did she begin this section with, “The constitutive element of the prophetic experience is the experience of being chosen, set apart, and sent forth by God”?
It then became clear to me that it was not so much that he saw the future but that he was fully immersed in the present – as are all mystics and prophets. They stand in the eternal now… and act accordingly.
And suddenly I recalled another strand of research that is emerging – Vincent and Louise, and indeed all our founders, were mystics who stand in the eternal now… and act accordingly.
I have long been influenced by Brother David Steindl-Rast’s definition of a mystic as someone who is aware of belonging to the ultimate reality we call God. We are aware of being outside of time but also of being deeply involved in the reality of time.
Mystics are people who experience reality as it transcends time and act accordingly.
The result is, borrowing a hallowed phrase in our tradition, the Charity of Christ urges us.
No wonder the successor of Saint Vincent, Fr. Tomaž Mavrič urged us in his letter on the feast of Vincent to become Mystics of Charity. When we become mystics of charity we must act prophetically.
When we view reality from a mystical perspective we will be rooted in the past, the future and the present.
The remainder of this series unpacks the future of the church as lived by Vincent.
- How deeply aware are we of belonging to God?
- Do we act accordingly?
See you next week!
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