On Ash Wednesday we were basically told two things
1. “Repent” (change your way of thinking)
Change your way of thinking from placating or manipulating an angry old man to becoming aware of a love greater than any love we have ever known whether from a mother or father, husband or wife.
2. “Believe the good news” (live according to this new way of thinking)
If we wake up to the grace we are surrounded by, it truly becomes ”Amazing grace.” If we wake up to the good news of the love God has for us is all around us, we want to tell the good news about how we are loved by loving others as God loves us. And so we live according to this new way of thinking.
The example of Vincent
Vincent changed and developed his way of thinking on a whole range of things. Let me just suggest one.
Early on in his ministry, he saw the need for practical preaching and the organization of charity.
His initial response to the issue of preaching was to do it himself via parish missions. He soon realized the need for improving the level of preaching by the local parish priests. His first step was to emphasize the ongoing formation of local clergy via what he called the Tuesday Conference.
He then realized that “playing catch-up” after ordination was not enough. He changed, or more correctly added, a new focus. Initial formation which was virtually non-existent in his day. Over his lifetime he created a network of institutions dedicated to initial formation. We call this systemic change by the name of seminaries. These seminaries represented a systemic change in the formation of the clergy of his day.
A systemic change mindset
A systemic change mindset calls for a change in the way of our thinking. It involves a shift to go beyond just first aid ministries to recognizing that there is a need, as Pope John Paul II reminded us, to look for long-term solutions to problems that create the need for the first aid we have focused on.
Many people struggle with or resist incorporating systemic change into their way of thinking. Some struggle to understand why systemic change is a relatively new priority in the Vincentian Family. Others resist taking a new look at how they have always done things and wonder why the need to change their accustomed ways of doing things.
Changing our way of thinking today
- Is giving things up the best way to repent or change your way of thinking?
- What do you need to change in your way of thinking about your life?
- Are you open to changing your way of thinking about “seeking long term solutions”?