Challenges of “Walking the Talk”

by | Aug 5, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

There are times when I have thought of another “Yeah, talk is cheap”! Other times I have stood on the sidelines in awe, watching how well another ”walks the talk.”

St Vincent de Paul continually amazes me with how well he saw what others did not see and did what others had not been able to do.

In this Vincentian Mindwalk, I look at some current events through the lens of “walking the talk” These events have special significance for those who walk in the footsteps of St. Vincent, bringing “good news” to those on the margins of society.

Walking the Talk

I could not make up my mind. Should I write about the once every six-year General Assembly that shapes the life and ministry of the Congregation of the Mission? Or should  I write about Pope Francis’ self-described penitential pilgrimage to Canada to address the scars of centuries of abuse of the indigenous people of Canada at the hands of both “civil” society and church missionary efforts?

It dawned on me that each, in its own way, involved the issue of walking the talk of Good news for those on the margins.

A 5,000-mile journey

In spite of increasing pain and the general wear and tear of age, Pope Francis is spending a week in Canada. His purpose is to walk in the moccasins of those who are longing for truth, reconciliation, justice, and healing.

It is only recently that I have become aware of the suffering of people who had lived in Canada for thousands of years before having their land, language, culture, and even life stripped from them.

I am horrified not only at what they and their descendants suffered at the hands of European settlers and their descendants.

The horror extends to the Catholic church that was complicit.

The details of what we now call “ethnic cleansing” are just beginning to surface.

We did not realize how the talk of bringing good news was negated by the way we walked the talk.

Pope Francis’ challenge is to show the Church walks the talk.

A four-hundred year journey

The Congregation of the Mission has recently marked 400 years of its mission of bringing good news to those on the margins. In our time, members meet every six years to assess what happened in the previous six. They also seek to read the signs of the times currently at work and the challenges they bring.

Having been an elected delegate to the 1998 General Assembly, I revisited the snapshot of the world and challenges a quarter of a century ago.  Then Superior General Robert Maloney wrote

The world is filled with undigested documents. I encourage you to bite into this one, chew it, and digest it well. I hope that it can then be a source of energy for deepening our Vincentian spirituality side by side with the members of our family, and for formulating with them concrete, practical projects that will be of genuine service to the poor.

That challenge is the same today… not only for the Congregation of the Mission but for all those groups who bring their strengths and weaknesses to a new world with different cultures and tools.

Walking the talk is personal for everyone

As I read the 2022 “Final Document,” I realize once again how much I personally have to digest.

Someone once said of me, not inaccurately,” Freund never lands the plane!”  As I make the journey of my life, I realize I need to take stock, read the signs of my life and continue making adjustments in real-time.

What talk are you trying to walk?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk