Five Vincentian Virtues

Simplicity

This is the virtue St. Vincent loved most. “It is my gospel,” he says. Listen to how St. Vincent describes simplicity:

“Jesus, the Lord, expects us to have the simplicity of a dove. This means giving a straightforward opinion about things in the way we honestly see them, without needless reservations. It also means doing things without any double-dealing or manipulation, our intention being focused solely on God. Each of us, then, should take care to behave always in this spirit of simplicity, remembering that God likes to deal with the simple, and that he conceals the secrets of heaven from the wise and prudent of this world and reveals them to little ones. But while Christ recommends the simplicity of a dove he tells us to have the prudence of a serpent as well. What he means is that we should speak and behave with discretion. We ought, therefore, to keep quiet about matters which should not be made known, especially if they are unsuitable or unlawful … In actual practice this virtue is about choosing the right way to do things.”  (CR 11, 4-5.)

 

Humility

Jesus said “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” Humility is basic to gospel spirituality. The kingdom of God belongs to the poor in spirit. God resists the proud; he raises up the humble. We must stand before God humbly in our daily prayer, and have the attitude of a servant.

Meekness

Jesus says that the meek shall be happy. St. Vincent believed this word of the Lord and won the hearts of the poor because his meekness developed as warmth, approachability, openness, deep respect for the person of others. Although he tells us that he was irritable by nature, he asked God to change his heart: “Grant me a kindly and benign spirit…” (see Abelly, U. 111, 177-178.)

Mortification

Jesus calls us to follow him even unto death. He asks us to die to sin daily. St. Vincent knew these gospel imperatives very well. We must be faithful to our duties of serving the poor, and prefer them when they conflict with other more pleasurable things.

Zeal

Vincent loved, with a burning love. “Let us beg God to enkindle in our hearts a desire to serve him…” (SV XI, 75.) We must labor long as servants of the poor– while remembering that although the Lord asks us to cooperate in his work, it still remains His work. So we must strive to live a balanced life, so that we might have the energy that nourishes zeal.