Imagine That!

by | Jan 27, 2023 | Formation, Reflections

Can you relate to any of these quotes?

  • “Imagination … the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein
  • “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” –  Carl Sagan
  • “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will.” – George Bernard Shaw
  • “It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry James
  • “Nothing limits achievement like small thinking; nothing expands possibilities like unleashed imagination.” – William Arthur Ward
  • “Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Einstein
  • “I wish to encircle the world in a network of charity.” – Ozanam

I suspect some readers may never get beyond one or other of these insights.

But let’s look at God’s imagination and the imagination of St. Vincent de Paul.

God’s imagination

Imagination – “the ability to see something that others don’t see or does not yet exist.” Dictionary


  • God certainly sees much more than we can see.
  • God’s imagination – the ability to see what “eye has not seen nor ear heard”.
  • God shared the gift of imagination with us. We are made in the image and likeness of God.

God went even further.

  • God shared his own image and likeness in the person of Jesus.
  • The Word made flesh showed us what God imagined for us.

Vincent’s Imagination

I have come to realize that Vincent read the Gospels imaginatively.

In his 30’s he seemed to learn how to “enter into the scriptures.” He placed himself in each story he read. He imagined himself as each person in the story.

Through this process, Vincent learned to imagine the way God/Jesus imagined. He learned to read the sights and signs of the times.

Vincent began to imagine like God. He “put on the mind of Christ!”

Vincent imagined a world where everyone loved each other as sisters and brothers, even, and especially, those on the margins.

With the mind of Christ, he dared to ask what we refer to today as the Vincentian question. “What must be done?

Vincent’s “imagination” led to changing his world.

Most of his contemporaries accepted their world as “the way it is”.

No doubt he saw the massive social inequality, the polarization of peasants and power. He especially saw the resignation and clinging to the status quo.

Vincent saw more! He saw there was something out of focus. He felt this, especially when he viewed the on-the-ground reality against the vision and mission of Jesus bringing good news to the Poor.

With God and the Word made flesh, he dared imagine a world where people took care of one another. What must be done to bring “good news” to the suffering.

With clarity of vision, he also knew he was just one person. In his “Christ imagination,” he also saw clergy, laity, and women uniting in God’s vision.

With this imagination, he shaped the supposed “influencers” of his age, clerics, and tapped into previously unrecognized resources for ministry – laity, and especially women.

He inspired these to imagine the dignity of brothers and sisters.

His followers today also ask “what must I do?” for my sister and brother in need.

Today, we can easily get lost asking ourselves, “What can you do?” We will, however, always find our way if we ask the question Madame De Gondi asked St. Vincent 400 years ago. ”Something must be done; what must I do?”

Knowing that something must be done and being brave enough to imagine. That is to live out the imagination of God, Jesus, and St. Vincent.

Do we dare to Imagine?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk