“These five virtues should be like the faculties of the soul of the entire Congregation. Just as the soul knows by the intellect, determines by the will, and remembers by the memory, so a Missioner should act only by means of these virtues.” (CCD XII, conference 211).
Vincent de Paul
- One aspect that Mr. Vincent insisted on: the so-called five vincentian virtues, to which he assimilates the “faculties of the soul.” Such insistence can be due to his own conviction (which is not doubtful) or to the “little” fulfillment of the same, at least not from all his missionaries (possibly also applicable to the Sisters of Charity). It is true that they are never raised as a “beginning” but as “ending.” Today we would say that, like other areas of life, they are subject to continuous improvement.
- Two expressions of Mr. Vincent accompany this reflection: Do we experience that [desire] within ourselves? Oh, what a happiness if we do! If we don’t, let’s admit that we are in the wrong and say that we’re not Missioners; for true Missioners are simple, humble, mortified, and filled with ardor for their work. I have reason to believe that many do have this spirit, if not in everything, at least in part.” (CCD XII, conference 211). This last sentence hides a subtle call of attention: “many have … if not in everything, at least in part.”
- Second expression: the judgment of a missionary will be due to his identification with the five virtues (doubtless extendible to those virtues assigned to the Daughters of Charity). “How do you judge the blessed but for this?”, that is, if his spirit is a spirit of simplicity, humility, meekness, mortification and zeal … If Matthew 25 puts us before the “what” of the Final judgment, this expression of Mr. Vincent places us before the “how,” that is, how you gave eating, drinking, visiting … Well it has been said that Saint Vincent is an advance of modern quality systems.
- All this is finished by the same Mr. Vincent, with a very important expression: “There’s some progress in the Company, my dear confreres; these five virtues seem to be in it, if not to the degree to which Our Lord, the Apostles, and the first Christians had them, at least it’s a beginning that will continue, provided we strive to conform all our actions to those Gospel teachings. The purpose for which we’re Missioners, Messieurs, is to be very simple, humble, gentle, mortified, and zealous for the glory of God.” (CCD XII, conference 211).
Questions for dialogue:
- My Brothers, does the Vincentian Family have this spirit? Is there a spirit of simplicity with others? Can you really say that there is?
- Those who observe the missionaries, do they see in them this spirit of simplicity?
- Let’s put our hands on our conscience: do we have those virtues? Has this desire — to seem what we are — taken root in our hearts? …
Mitxel Olabuenaga, C.M.