Vincentian Lent, a Pilgrimage to the Heart: A Journey Made up of Questions (Part Two of Two)

by | Mar 6, 2023 | Formation, Reflections

Read the first part here.

4.“The Lord … sent them out two by two” (cf. Mark 6:7).

What I do, do I do it in the name of the poor, as my mission, or do I do everything in the name of my community or my group? What do others know about the mission I carry out? How much do I care about the work of my “fellow travelers”? Saint Vincent always thought about teamwork in community; what is my attitude in this regard? Do I hinder the effort of those with whom I have to work? Do I build bridges with others or do I build walls so that everything I do has only one protagonist: myself? Do I present myself with a constructive attitude, continually discovering and learning, like a sponge that absorbs everything to be useful to others, or do I find myself always closed, full of certainties, uncompromising towards opinions different from mine, like an impenetrable stone that often is cast aside? Do I encourage dialogue, criticism, participation in decisions, sharing responsibilities? When I am in charge of a group or community, do I try to develop and promote the qualities of every member? Do I promote their spiritual growth and help them dedicate  their lives to Jesus Christ, or do I exercise my authority relentlessly, monopolizing all activities and limiting individual responsibilities, thus making all ‘hostages’ of my presence/decision and fearful of standing on their own feet?

5.I belong neither here nor there, but wherever God wants me to be” (CCD:IX, 10).

Am I the face and soul of the work I do, or do I allow Christ to take his rightful place in my ministry? Am I a detached and free person, or do I perform the tasks entrusted to me and try to keep my position forever? Am I an available or unavailable person? Saint Vincent asked the sisters to have for monastery only the houses of the sick…; for cell, a hired room; for chapel, the parish church; for cloister, the streets of the city…(cf. CCD:X:530). What would Saint Vincent say to me? Would he say that I have it made? Would he say that I look for an easy life, that I am inserted into existing and predefined structures? Would he say that I try always to act in the same way because ‘it always has been done this way’? Would he say that I do not want any change in my group, because the youngest ones do not understand me, do not respect me, do not know how to do things well? Would he say that I do not want to leave the responsibilities that have been entrusted to me for years? Would he say that I do not want to change groups, when I am no longer at ease? Would he say I do not want to change communities, because my family or my friends are there? Do I live for my ‘little chapel’ or do I really live for the mission of Christ? Do I try to reflect on the future and contribute to the universal growth of the mission, adapting and seeing changes as an opportunity to keep the flame of the Vincentian charism alive? Or, on the contrary, do I lose myself in struggles and schemes to keep myself where I want? How am I assuming the task of Providence?

6. Conversion: a way of life!

What is my relationship with God? How is my conversion journey: am I at a standstill? “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2). How I deepen my configuration to Christ? How do I follow the example of Saint Vincent de Paul? Do I deepen my passion to imitate the Saint of Charity? How often do I allow myself to be seduced and encouraged by the words of Saint Vincent? How can I follow his example, as a disciple of Christ, without making every effort to learn more about his thinking? If I do not allow Jesus to shine through me, if the flame of my charism lacks fuel, how can I attract others to the beauty of this journey?

Francisco Vilhena
Portuguese Province