Service in Hope – “I am among you as one who serves.” (Lk. 22:27) “There is no better way to insure our eternal happiness than to live and die in the service of the poor, within the arms of Providence and, and in a real renunciation of ourselves by following Jesus Christ.” (SV 111, 392) It does not matter what you do or who you are, we are all called to serve in hope. Giving hope to those in need through your kindness and joy is giving Christ to them. Hope is everything for all of us. Hope in Jesus, serve Him well and ensure others see the goodness you bring without arrogance, criticism or judgment. Serve well as Jesus is calling us for help. Jesus reached out with joy as a servant. He calls us to do the same. Reading Scripture before a home visit, especially a difficult one will help us. Of course we must pray before and after and pray for the Trinity to lead and guide us. Sometimes a quick silent prayer during the visit will also help. We are never alone. We are serving in hope with God.
Hearer & Doer – Listen to the word and then plan to do what God tells you. In James we are told everything we think we own comes from God and belongs to others as it is a gift from God. As Vincentians we know this, but sometimes forget the poor and all we serve deserve what we give. This is why we smile and are friendly; we must be forgiven for bringing them what is already theirs. We must hear the word, but also do as it says. Jesus tells us to only let good things come out of our mouths. When we say kind and loving things to others we are hearers and doers. Sometimes we think it is hard, but with God everything will play out. Pray and follow His instructions, always. If you are hearers and not doers or doers and not hearers, you are deceiving yourself. However, if you both hear the word and do the word, serving and love all, you are God’s work and creation. He looks down and says, “This is good, very good.” He called; you came and are a faithful servant. Carry His word and do His will always.
Footprints – One of my favorite poems is “Footprints” by Margaret Fishback Powers. It has been around for awhile. I received a copy in 1965 and read it each day. My favorite copy today is one received in about 1985 from one of my special needs student. He was extremely difficult, emotionally, physically and mentally. He was a blind autistic boy and did not want to learn. One day I read him the poem. I had him step in some sand so he would know what a footprint was. He became intrigued and we had to say the poem and pray at the start of each day. I taught him to type and he always wrote, “Do you see one set of footprints.” After two years he graduated from my class and when he left he gave me the most beautiful picture of the Footprint poem and I treasurer it always. He taught many others this poem in his way. This is a good message for us Vincentians. Sometimes it is hard, but if we look back on the most difficult times serving all in need or even dealing with our daily work and financial situations, we will see one set of Footprints. It is good for us to always remember we are never alone. Think of Christ carrying us in our service to all in need. He will carry us through the most difficult times. See His Footprints. God promises to be with us, but He does not promise the easy road.
Jesus at our Meetings – We must pray for and build a collaborative relation with our Vincentian peers. This will head off conflict and attain positive goals. One thing I always did at meetings when I was president was to always have an empty chair. My Vincentian family soon learned the empty chair was set up for Jesus. It was always in a prominent place and we all knew He was there. We were able to build a climate of prayer and sharing as we listened to each other and dealt with priorities as a team. We seemed to come to wonderful ways to support the ideas of others. We never heard “It won’t work! Or we tried that!” We made a point to understand others and not need to “Do it my way!” Jesus was there and if we did get into an argument, we stopped everything and talked to Jesus. It worked. Jesus was always in charge and we really got things done all working together. Keep Jesus at your meetings, however you can.
Lynn L’Heureux is Special needs co-coordinator & Advisor of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Calgary, Alberta Canada.