fr.-griffin-reflections

A Vincentian View: A Message for Us

I have been to more than one Vincent event in the past two weeks which contained an opening prayer which included some passage from Pope Francis’ message to the Vincentian Family on September 27th. Different people, different circumstance, gave emphasis to one part of the letter or another.

I confess to a particular attraction to the very last and the very substantial sentence:

In the glorious wounds of Jesus, may you find the strength of charity, the happiness of the grain that gives life by dying, the fecundity of the rock from which water gushes forth, the joy of coming out of yourself in order to go out into the world, free from nostalgia for the past, confident in God and creative regarding the challenges of today and tomorrow because, as Saint Vincent said, “love is inventive to infinity”.

The sentence is loaded with encouragement and could give rise to a wonderful talk. (Note to self.) We are invited to be strong, happy, fruitful, and selfless. We are directed to be free, confident and creative. We are told to find, gush, respond, and invent. And we are compared to grain and rock. The Holy Father went to a lot of trouble to use as many dynamic, evocative words as he could reasonably fit in one sentence. And it all begins “in the glorious wounds of Christ”—a phrase which specially resonates in the Vincentian Family with our sisters, the Daughters of Charity.

Most interesting for me was one of the ways in which Pope Francis urges us to move forward: “free from nostalgia for the past.” I know exactly what he means. Or, at least, I think I know. The past is that place in which we were more numerous, controlled more institutions, were more respected, and had more influence. Yes, the good old days. It is that memory in which we keep the present prisoner. The Holy Father summons us from that attitude with the words of St. Vincent with which he concludes his note to us: “love is inventive to infinity.”

Our “Vincentian Family Symposium” which begins in these days orients us towards the future. Fueled by hope, we celebrate creativity, collaboration, and communication. And we always holds the service of those who are poor as our primary value. I am eager to read and hear and see all which our gathering will produce. In response to the encouragement of the Holy Father and the Holy Founder, I long for a reminder of the extent of infinity.


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