Vincent was not always a saint. It was in his service to the most abandoned in 17th century France that he learned what it meant to bring Good News as Jesus the Evangelizer had done.
A 20 year-old college student learned this lesson from a Daughter of Charity. Frederic Ozanam, stung by the challenge of an atheist “Where is your God today” , turned to Blessed Rosalie Rendu, DC. From her he learned the distilled essence of Vincent’s Way – “Go to the poor!” He walked the streets of Paris with this Mother Teresa of her age who taught him the key to Vincentian spirituality is serve and lean
What he learned led him to found what would become in time theVincent dePaul Society. Today there are some 600,000 members serving in ? countries
Visit Vincent’s Way – a 40 part series of reflections
Go serve those who are poor and marginalized.
Then come back and talk about it. Go serve them, then begin to ask what works and what doesn’t work. Go serve them, then begin to figure out why they (and others like them) are poor in such a wealthy society. Go serve them, then begin to ask others who serve them how they keep serving over the years. The best learning happens when it’s grounded in real life and real questions.
The Vincentian mission must always be deeply rooted in the lives of the poor. Start there. We don’t learn the Vincentian Spirit from a book. We can only get it working with the poor.
- You serve the poor, then you do something to build up your heart.
- You serve the poor, then you go back and read scripture and realize, perhaps for the first time, how much of scripture is about the poor.
- You serve the poor, then you start to learn about the services that are available from various governmental and charitable agencies, and you learn how to work the system to help the poor.
- You serve the poor, and then you read Vincent’s or Louise’s or Elizabeth Ann’s letters to let them strengthen your inner self and teach you something you weren’t ready to hear before you had actually met the poor.
- You serve the poor, and then you spend time reflecting with others who serve the poor to learn from them and to support one another. You serve the poor, and then you pray, and read the writings of the spiritual masters, and perhaps begin to meet with a spiritual director.
- You serve the poor, and then you begin to ask why it has to be this way, and then begin to read sociology, economics, social work, psychology, substance abuse, history, politics, government, housing, nutrition, health, management, spirituality, and so much more.
For more on this “Serve and Learn” way of life read Fr. Dennis Holtschneider’s story of how he learned and continues to learn what Vincent’s Way is all about.
Learn about the Copernican shift in Vincent’s universe from “What’s in it for me?” to “What’s in it for the least of my brothers and sisters.”