St. Francis De Sales in his famous book, Introduction to the Devout Life, writes about “constant spiritual attentiveness” as the most assured means of spiritual advancement. In the spiritual life of St. Vincent, especially as given in the book of Louis Abelly, we come to know that Vincent maintained his constant attentiveness to God amidst his many external occupations. In this regard, he used to say, “one cannot hope for much from someone who does not continually converse with God.”
In most of the pictures and statues of St. Vincent, we see him with a crucifix in his hand. It was one of his means of remaining in the presence of God. When he had to go the city, he did so with great recollection, walking in the presence of God, praising him, and praying to him silently in his heart. He had the pious custom of uncovering his head and making the sign of the cross whenever he heard the sound of the clock marking the hours and the quarter hours.
In the beauty and perfection of the created and natural objects Vincent raised his mind to God. When he saw fields covered with grain, or trees loaded with fruit, he immediately thought of the inexhaustible riches of God. When he saw flowers, or any other beautiful object, he took the opportunity to contemplate the perfections and beauty of God. He would say, “What then compares to the beauty of God, the source of all beauty and of the perfection of his creatures? Do not flowers, the birds, the stars, the moon, and the sun borrow their attraction and their beauty from him?”
Since he knew from his own experience the graces and benefits of interior recollection and of this constant attention to the presence of God, he encouraged others to this practice. He put up, in various places in the house of St. Lazare, signs written in large letters, GOD SEES ALL, so that the missionaries and others visiting might be reminded always of God’s presence. Constant attention to the presence of God is possible only when we are convinced about God’s constant attention on us with his steadfast love.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.