See below for an audio version of this reflection.
Is the Vincentian Charism alive today?
Is the Vincentian charism alive today? You bet!
The health of a charism is not in the number of members who profess their vows in the institute. The health of the charism is seen in its vitality wherever it is received, nurtured and made operative. The charism of religious life is alive and well both inside and outside of the religious institute’s vowed membership.
Naming Vincent’s Charism In Everyday Life
Let me tell you a story, a true story. It is a story connecting the dots of one person’s life with the Vincentian Charism or culture. It is the story of a married woman who was interested in learning more about a group of women who called themselves Sisters of Charity. She was considering becoming a “lay associate”.
In conversation with a Sister she respected greatly, she heard the story of Vincent instructing one of the first groups of the long line of women who became known as Daughters of Charity, Sisters of Charity or some variation. Sister spoke of how Saint Vincent reminded them that they were 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…
It was a moment of awakening for her. She burst into quiet tears, tears of recognition. After a few moments, she was able to explain what had happened.
In those words of Vincent, she recognized the lives that she and her husband had lived for years serving the marginalized in the south west of the United States. And, in that moment, the Sister learned a new level of meaning to those words. She realized immediately that she was not “forming” this woman for becoming an associate but rather merely helping her to recognize or name the charism she and her husband had been living for decades.
Isn’t this what was described in the recent post reflecting on a still little known phenomenon in the Vincentian family. The story illustrates the same point in a different way
It seems as if many others are beginning to connect the dots.
- People skilled in various professions are acting on a desire to use their professional skills to address the needs of their suffering sisters and brothers.
- Members of these groups gather among themselves to discuss how they can use their unique skills. Musicians, lawyers, etc. seeking to serve others who are less fortunate. They walk in the way of Vincent from within their professions. I think we could call them Vincentian “professionals”.
- Musicians, lawyers, graphic artists, psychologists, translators, alumni of Vincentian institutions and the list goes on.
Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac certainly promoted the laity, especially women. The many impressive Vincentian accomplishments cannot be understood apart from the participation of so many lay persons, so many laymen and laywomen, in the mission.
Vincent was amazed at the number of laity who began to walk in the footsteps of Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor.
The point is … we are just beginning to see a new vitality of the Vincentian Charism… but in ways we did not expect!
Are we seeing this new vitality?
Are we help people recognize it in their lives?
Click below for an audio version of this reflection…