“All Christians are bound to practice these virtues, Sisters, but Daughters of Charity are obliged to practice them in a special way. ‘But, Monsieur, you’ll say to me, don’t we have to practice all the other virtues?’ Yes, you do, but you have to practice these three especially; heaven and earth call you to this. […] It’s God’s Will that the Daughters of Charity devote themselves particularly to the practice of humility, charity, and simplicity.” (CCD IX, conference 51).
Vincent de Paul
- Let’s start at the end, and from there, maybe we’ll see the whole picture. “It’s God’s Will that the Daughters of Charity devote themselves particularly to the practice of humility, charity, and simplicity.” He was right saying what he says, and telling the virtues of the Daughters from the virtues of the missionaries from the Congregation of the Mission. Let us be reminded that he replaced charity for meekness, mortification and zeal for the Congregation of the Mission.
- All together, they make a beautiful sum of six virtues. We can even group them in two directions: one interior (meekness-humility-simplicity) and the other more to the external (charity-mortification-zeal). All are associated in an inseparable whole. The first group strengthens the mood, the latter deploy it. The first ones without the second ones would parch quickly; the latter without the first would lose their reason for being. Both gropus feed each other to carry out the Mission.
- And they are “virtues” proper for Vincentians (of course, many others coincide in one way or another). It is fair to say that they are “proper” rather than “property;” they are just as evangelical as several others virtues, but together, in a special way, they make up the being and work of all Vincentians.
- Living and deploying this broad “program” is a matter of a lifetime (and even more). Therefore, I dare to bring to light another virtue that, in my opinion, is a fundamental energy source: patience. We will agree to the need to get a good dose of this in order to acquire and live the virtues mentioned above. We will agree that this is a difficult and complex journey. In fact, few reach it with a fairly acceptable level…
- A vital journey that resembles an “exatlhon” (six tests); we choose to improve those that we have more “weak,” with a view to overcome. It would be utopia the pretension to embrace them all at the same time and with the same intensity. In addition to intelligence, we need patience to design, deploy, evaluate and revise over and over … holiness has a lot of “insistence” on oneself and on God.
Questions for dialogue:
- To what extent do we agree with the objection raised by the Sisters?
- Is our life enlivened by these virtues?
- Do we have an “improvement plan”?
- Are the Vincentian “virtues” visible in our works?
- What are the main “threats” against these virtues?
Mitxel Olabuenaga, C.M.