Children often ask me if me if I was born a ‘nun.’ I guess of all my sisters and brothers, I was perhaps the least likely candidate for that as we are growing up! We all dream our dreams and plan our future according to our agenda and becoming a daughter of charity wasn’t anywhere in my plan. But our plans may seem wonderful …. but are they always God’s plan for us?
A wonderful example of this is seen in the life of St Vincent De Paul. He grew up helping mind the sheep on his father’s small farm. They were simple, peasant people, but they recognised Vincent’s intelligence and made sacrifices to educate him. Vincent had a noble plan for his future…to become a priest. What family wouldn’t be happy to have a son become a priest! It was Vincent’s reasons for becoming a priest that were a little questionable. In the 16th century the financial opportunities for clergy were good. With the right connections, priests could become some of the best paid people of the time. This is what appealed to Vincent – a good chaplaincy with enough money to support his family and retire early.
Vincent’s only stumbling block was God’s plan for him. Yes, Vincent’s plan was to become a priest. and this was God’s plan for him too. Vincent did have a vocation to the priesthood, God did call him to this, but the reasons for becoming a priest were different in God’s plan for Vincent. There was no early retirement for Vincent in God’s plan!!! God’s plan involved transforming Vincent’s heart through touching the lives of those who are poor. Vincent did have a well-paid Chaplaincy. He mixed with royalty and rich, and it would appear that Vincent’s plan was coming to fruition. Then God introduced Vincent to those who are poor, and through them Vincent was to fulfil the plan God had for him….to give his life fully in service of his sisters and brothers in need.
The 19-year-old, newly ordained Fr Vincent De Paul could never have imagined God’s plan for him, but he allowed himself to be led by the cries of those he was serving, and through reflection and prayer he discovered these were the cries of God himself. We all have our plans and sometimes when our ‘plans’ are disrupted we can get annoyed and irritated. Today, many of our sisters and brothers across the world are having their ‘plans’ disrupted by war, financial worries, hunger.. and so much more. Our call as Vincentians is to stand beside them, list to their cries allowing them to touch and transform our hearts, and in doing so, respond as best we can, knowing that these cries are the cries of God himself.
Sr Maria Robb DC.
Source: Ozanam News, Special edition September 2022
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Scotland