We continue to share a series of reflections made by Vincentian Lay Missionaries and Vincentian Mission Corps participants about their experience serving, how it has impacted their lives and how they continue to live the Vincentian Charism today.
The other day, I stumbled across my copy of Turn Everything To Love: A Rule of Life for Lay Members of the Vincentian Family by Robert P. Maloney, C.M. I read this book for the first time during my year as a VMC volunteer. As I began reading the book for a second time, I was struck by the following quote: “The goal of a Rule is not to regiment our lives, but rather to create an environment where we can express what is best within us.” The passage goes on to propose the main “Rule” for lay members of the Vincentian family: to “turn everything to love.”
Fr. Maloney continues by identifying specific ways in which the Rule transforms our lives, the first of which is by creating a sacred dwelling place within us. “It is a space not so much to love God as to be loved by God,” Fr. Maloney writes. I feel that my time spent in VMC greatly challenged me, in the best of ways, to be loved by God. Before entering VMC, my relationship with God had become very one-sided. I did all the talking but not much listening. My perspective on faith was so focused on proving that I loved God, that I was forgetting we only love because He first loved us.
During community dinners, our community member Lucy would always ask us, “Where did you see God in your life today?” To be honest, this question often made me want to roll my eyes and say, “Pass” (although I never did)! It just seemed much easier to complain about all the hardships in my day rather than seek out the good. However, this “rule” our community had created truly did help to create an environment where we could express what was best within us, as Fr. Maloney suggested. I was essentially forced to become aware of the infinite ways in which God’s love presented itself to me throughout the course of my day. And as the year progressed, it became increasingly difficult for me to ignore the constant reminders of God’s great love for me.
I saw God’s love daily in my community members Jake and Lucy, in the people I interacted with at my placement site, in my prayer partner Madeline and other VMC alumni, in our program directors Kellie and Mary, and always in the Daughters of Charity, who exuded God’s love. I began to realize there are so many moments of love to notice in one day, if we choose to open our hearts to see them. This awareness and acceptance of God’s love is one way that I continue to live out the Vincentian charism today, as I now ask myself often: “Where did I see God in my life today?”