“There’s a phrase that should never be used: ‘It’s always been done that way.’ That phrase, let me tell you, is bad. We must always be changing because time changes. The only thing that does not change is what’s essential. What doesn’t change is the announcement of Jesus Christ, missionary attitude, prayer, the need to pray, the need to be formed, and the need to sacrifice. That does not change. You have to find the way, how to do it, but it does not change. But the ‘always done this way’ phrase did so much damage in the Church, and continues to do so much damage to the Church.” (Pope Francis)

Imagine if Vincent hadn’t let his creativity blossom. Imagine if Louise had lived a comformtable widow’s life. Imagine in Frederic hadn’t begun to think and challenge. Where would the family be?

Francis continued to stress the need to “…leave their comfort zone, and avoid the temptation of wanting to control everything, or try to achieve a useless perfectionism that only stops evangelization.”

If Jesus, in perpetuating his presence and love by instituting the Eucharist, showed us a love — in Vincent’s words — that is “inventive to infinity,” (Download:CCD v. 11. let. 102), what is to be our response?

For every situation, a creative, inventive solution.

For every cry, a tender ear that listens.

An inventive love, that fears not the new, the strange, the messy, the misunderstood, the incomplete.

My friend Kristen Trudo talks about a kind of love she calls tenderness. She knows that the ability to be creative (inventive) and recognize one’s self as a person gifted with the ability of form creative (inventive) responses to one’s experience of the work lies in love of self, and a tender reponse to one’s own self-doubt. In the blog Radically Tender, she writes,

we have talked, at length, about how my inability to accept myself has led to a lot of my suffering. we have talked about the opportunity i have to grow and to experience joy and to feel affirmed, if i could only figure out how to extend myself some compassion.

 

a couple of months back, there was a moment when my therapist got fired up, and told me that i needed to start showing up for myself. that i needed to be my own source of safety and comfort. that the capacity to show up for myself resides in me. you have everything you need, she said. and continues to say. i was compelled by this idea. showing up for myself. and wondered how other people do it. how other people have developed the capacity to actually be their own best friend. their favorite person in the world. a human that they love, unconditionally. i didn’t know how they did it. and i wanted to know. so i began to ask. what does tenderness mean to you?

She knows. Tenderness (love) is inventive to infinity.

Jesuit roots, but definitely Vincentian of wherever she is.


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