A part of the Strategic Plan adopted by the 2010 General Assembly focused on personal renewal and formation.
Members of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian Fathers and Brothers) are well aware of these characteristics of Vincentian Spirituality:
Trust In and Reliance On Divine Providence
St. Vincent had a deep faith and trust in God’s providential care for him and for all people, especially the poor.
Contemplatives in Action
St. Vincent and St. Louise established a new form of religious life- an un-cloistered, effective blending of the divine and the human, the supernatural and the practical, the contemplative and the active. Through their encounter with the Christ of gentleness and compassion in prayer, Vincentians are prepared to go out and assist the same Christ in poor persons. As Vincent said, “Give me persons of prayer and they will be capable of anything.”
The “Preferential Option for the Poor”
The Christian charity we are called to practice is not giving away to the poor the left-over, our spare time, our extra money, our old clothes, etc. Charity for us must mean giving our best and at times our everything. Our life must reflect the life of Jesus Christ who has called us to this great vocation of love. Our respect for the dignity of poor persons must lead us to treat them like guests at our family table and not as beggars at our gate, waiting for the crumbs.
The Poor Are Our Masters
We believe that the poor have some claim over our time. Much like a subordinate would be deferential to someone of higher authority, we show a deep respect, even devotion, for those who are poor. Our speech is simple. We deny ourselves of things and pleasures in order that we might be in solidarity with a poor person; so that they will not feel embarrassed by our presence. We go to them; not them coming to us always. We remain approachable and are kindly disposed when greeting them. We show patience, when persons may be demanding or even angry. We listen attentively to them, and consider first their needs. They must have a say in how they might redirect their lives.
Having encountered a poor person, or following an experience of service to the poor, we reflect together on that experience and its implications through prayer and Bible study. In this way we begin to learn how to cope with our own inner poverty. Vincentian spirituality maintains that this contemplation provides an experiential key that can help to unlock the true meaning of the Scriptures. This process of transformation prepares us to return to renewed service of our Lords, the poor.
From the beginning, the role of the laity was pivotal to our mission. The laity revealed the needs of the poor to Vincent at both Folleville and Chatillon-les-Dombes. One could say that the laity led Vincent to the poor. Today the Vincentian Family still shares a secular character. The charism comes from an association with the laity (SSVP, AMM, JMV, AIC, MISEVI).
How then to grow in these directions? ….