We have every reason to rejoice that the Lord is our Good Shepherd, and that He loves us dearly and even searches carefully if one is in distress or goes astray. Following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, St. Vincent de Paul would seek out the suffering and outcasts, wrap them in his cloak to keep them warm, and show them Christ’s tenderness, compassion, and forgiveness.

Miniature painting by Louise de Marillac; Good Shepherd and sheep; rural setting; figure of the Risen Christ (nail marks in the feet); original at Daughters of Charity motherhouse, Paris. Courtesy Depaul Image Archive.

[Learn more about Louise de Marillac, the painter in the article Some Lesser-Known Human Qualities of the Saints of the Vincentian Family by Fr. Robert Maloney, CM.]

The Grace of the Abiding Shepherd

from Elizabeth Seton and the School of Hope by Sr. Regina Bechtle, S.C.. p.381

“After her conversion, Elizabeth seemed never again to be tormented by the kind of anxiety and worry that had marked her life while she was struggling with the decision about becoming a Catholic. She seemed to have received a special grace that freed her spirit totally, and ever afterwards she lived in its light. It could be described as the grace of experiencing that all was in the hands of God. It was like Julian of Norwich’s insight, ‘All shall be well.’ It was the same grace out of which Vincent de Paul lived and moved and made his apostolic decisions. ‘Let us leave matters to God…. Remember that wherever you are God will take care of you.’ In the imagery of psalm 23, Elizabeth’s favorite, it could be named as ‘the grace of the abiding shepherd’.

This much-beloved psalm, which has woven in and out of our prayer during this conference, captures well the shape of Elizabeth’s hope, and serves as a fitting conclusion for these reflections. It paints a picture of one who walks right into the terrors of dark valleys, yet chooses not to fear; one who stands before an unknown future, and chooses to name it as the dwelling of the Lord, the place where she will meet her God; one who chooses to proclaim almost fiercely, even in times of deepest loss, ‘There is nothing I shall want,’ so strong is her sense that she will be given-is being given-all that she needs.”

Art: The Good Shepherd by Sieger Köder (1925-2015), a priest and a prolific artist whose work shows the artistic influence of Chagall and a distinctive interpretation of biblical themes.

Young Vincent de Paul, shepherd. Courtesy Depaul Image Archive.

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