“Another thing that recommends simplicity to us in a wonderful way are those words of Our Lord: ‘I confess to you, Father, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to little ones.’ I acknowledge this, Father, and thank You that the teaching I learned from Your Divine Majesty, which I am spreading among the people, is enjoyed only by the simple, and that You don’t allow the prudent of this world to understand it; You’ve hidden it from them, if not the words, at least the spirit.” (CCD, volume XII, conference 201).
Vincent de Paul
- To emphasize the extraordinary significance of simplicity in the life and works of the missionary, Mr. Vincent does not remain in the mere exposition of its goodness, but he contributes with “means” to encourage its practice. One of them is the text of Mathew: “because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast made them known unto the simple.”
- Unless I am wrong, he comes to us to say that the “things of God” are understood much better by being simple than by boasting of wise and prudent, that is, not going too “far” (wisdom) or staying too “close” (prudence). It is not “staying in the middle,” but walking from a different dimension, in this case simplicity.
- Therefore, Mr. Vincent (and the simple person) may give thanks to God “I acknowledge this, Father, and thank You that the teaching I learned from Your Divine Majesty, which I am spreading among the people, is enjoyed only by the simple.” Certainly the audience (the missionaries) would understand it quickly even though their practice (given the insistence on the subject) might not be very effective; but would the poor peasant, to whom the missionaries dedicated their preaching, understand it in the same way?
- The second part of the “prayer of St. Vincent” leaves us somewhat perplexed: “You don’t allow the prudent of this world to understand it; You’ve hidden it from them, if not the words, at least the spirit.” I speak of perplexity because it seems that the last sentence shows a small repentance of the affirmation: “you have hidden to them if not the words, at least its spirit.”
Questions for dialogue:
- What arguments do we have to observe the virtue of simplicity?
- Do we have any evidence that our works are simple?
- Are we confusing “quality” with “simplicity”?
- Knowing the importance that Saint Vincent gives to this virtue, is it the subject of our personal and community evaluations?
- Do we design improvements in the knowledge and practice of this virtue?
Mitxel Olabuenaga, C.M.