Adding Your Chapter To the Bibliographies of Our Founders As They Followed Christ.

Inside the library of the Motherhouse of the Congregation of the Mission (Courtesy of CMGLOBAL)

Celebrating the  Feast of St. Vincent

Many Vincentian sponsored institutions will be celebrating Heritage Weeks in connection with the Feast of St. Vincent. That, and Fr. Tom Mckenna’s recent reflection on “The Lives of the Saints as Bibliography” got me thinking.

He wrote:

A bibliography: a series of additions to the one story; i.e., variations on how Jesus’ story plays out, new and slightly altered versions of His narrative that are triggered off (in The Spirit) by different times and cultures and movements — and perhaps especially by seemingly unconnected and accidental events. In one way or other, these other stories retell the story. Or better, as they’re happening they are that One story as it’s in the process of being set out again for another age.

He suggests the lives of the saints (are) “bibliographic entries onto the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.” But he takes it a bit further.

And how well we in the Vincentian Family are familiar with those “remakes” made in the 17th century, those accounts of Louise and Vincent who in their attitudes and behaviors and works left especially vivid portrayals of who Jesus was for their day (and is for ours).

But closer to home, there are the people we’ve known, both in our own families and especially those special ones in the wider Vincentian Family, who “told the story.” Their life histories, recounted at their wakes and funerals and anniversaries, have come to be appreciated as one version or other of the original.

He certainly nailed it for me. Isn’t the best way of really celebrating someone imitating that person?

Adding Our Lives

Recently our Superior General wrote asking all “To renew and deepen our relationship with the Saints, Blessed, and Servants of God of the Vincentian Family around the world as models of the Vincentian”

Let me also offer Fr. McKenna’s concluding questions as commentary on the Superior General’s request to study the saints and significant role models in the Vincentian Family.

This line of thought provides a kind of gospel examination of conscience for all of us. How do we fit into that story in what we do and how we see and judge things, and in how much we pay attention to the One who’s always continually telling that story?

A practical lesson and question. How often do I set myself inside that story? That is to say, when the different experiences of life come at me:

– have I gotten into the habit of connecting what’s happening to me with what’s happening in that original version?

– can I line up the dots of my story according to the much bigger pattern of the Christian narrative?

– do I try to get my bearings by its stars, and find my meaning by viewing my history inside the overarching meaning of this all-encompassing story?

Who does this? It’s the person who ties in her joy with Jesus’ delight as He spots the finger of His Father at work in the everyday world.  It’s the individual who in a period of suffering follows closely along behind the Lord carrying His cross. It’s the person who at crisis times hands it all over into the loving hands of the Father. All of these are further “bibliographic entries,” biographies of Jesus Christ as His story gets remade, re-imagined, re-issued, and re-lived in every age.


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