Lessons can be learned from the past. Occasionally, I will post reflections under the title “Lessons from the Past” on those men and women who followed their inner compass, those who brought dignity to their brothers and sisters on the margins, and those who can teach us some valuable lessons as we seek to live a holy life.
Vincent de Paul was a Catholic priest in 17th century France. His legacy lives in the communities he formed that continue to provide essential services today, hundreds of years since Vincent took his last breath.
The danger with calling people saints is that we forget their humanity. Vincent, like the saints, lived a complex life. His intentions for becoming a priest was partially self-serving as a life as a priest brought security for not only himself, but as well as his family.
Vincent is worth exploring further. Spend time reading about his life, his conversion moments, and his friendships, or as the Vincentian family happily refers to as “collaborations.”
One of my favorite Vincent stories is a conversation he has with the Daughters of Charity, a religious group of women co-founded with St. Louise de Marillac.
As the story goes, one of the Daughters asked Vincent what they should do when they are in the midst of prayer but a person in need comes knocking at their door.
Vincent famously says, “Leave God for God.”
There is wisdom in this statement as there are pews filled with self-proclaimed faithful men and women that are Christ-like only for an hour on Sunday. Prayer should strengthen us so we can leave the walls of the Church, rise from our knees, and be in service to others, most especially those most in need.
Vincent saw God in the face of the poor, which is why he created communities to help those most in need. It is why he dedicated his life to serving God, both in the walls of the Church, and outside where the poor sat hungry, thirsty, and in need.
Prayer should lead us to service, as Jesus clearly describes in Matthew 25. Prayer connects us with the Source. It is as if we are charging our batteries with this supreme power for the purpose of being God’s instruments for others.
May we find time to pray this day to offer words of gratitude for the blessings of this day. In the spirit of Vincent, may our prayer be one of listening to God so our hearts can be molded to bring this divine spirit to others tomorrow.