Vincent de Paul and Accepting Change

In the cold mid-winter of 1656, Vincent de Paul took up his quill pen and began writing a letter to a community member far away. At one point in his epistle, Vincent reflected upon the changeability of the human experience and wrote to his colleague:

…the instability of the human person… is so great… that the person never remains in the same state. What he wants this year, perhaps he will not want the next—maybe not even tomorrow…1

In essence, Vincent was saying to his friend that to be human is to change. From one year, from one day, even from one moment to the next, for better or for worse, change is inevitable.

For all its universality, however, change is still so difficult for us to accept. It can surprise us, discomfort us, frustrate us, and plainly terrify us. No wonder we sometimes lose sight of the joys and benefits that only occur because of change in our lives. Without change, we don’t learn, we don’t progress, we don’t grow. As the journalist and author Gail Sheehy famously said, without change “we aren’t really living.”2

Right now, the year 2021 is still as fresh as new fallen snow. The DePaul community—students, staff, and faculty—are in the midst of an academic year that has summoned us to generate more creativity, resilience, and faith than we knew we had within us. Perhaps now would be a good time for us to look back on 2020, with all of its challenges, and ahead to 2021, with all its hope, and ask how we might harness change to lead us to better things.

What is one change you wish to keep from the year that has just ended? What is one change you wish to embrace in the year that has just begun?


1 Letter 1842, To Étienne Blatiron, Superior, In Genoa, 19 February 1655, CCD, 5:316.

2 See: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/38338.Gail_Sheehy

Reflection By: Tom Judge, Chaplain, Division of Mission & Ministry

2 thoughts on “Vincent de Paul and Accepting Change

  1. Inspiring article Tom, thanks for providing this. Your sentence “Perhaps now would be a good time for us to look back on 2020, with all of its challenges, and ahead to 2021, with all its hope, and ask how we might harness change to lead us to better things” is a call to look back not only on what went wrong in 2020, but at what went right. When we consider what went wrong and why, we can try to avoid mistakes we or others made and how to avoid or overcome them. When we consider what went right, we can be thankful for those things over which we had no control and we can become wiser about future actions. But of course your sentence says this much more succinctly! Best wishes for 2021! Jim Janossy

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