Dorothy Day beautifully captured the spiritual journey of many when she wrote, “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” Our Vincentian legacy was pioneered by people who created communities of both religious and laypeople dedicated to noble missions. We have encouraged the DePaul community to see itself as a community gathered together for the sake of our mission.
Yet we have probably found that other stuff comes with community too, and not only good things. We find numerous examples in the letters of Saint Vincent where he advised people, often superiors of different Vincentian communities, about handling the mundane problems of community life. In one such letter, Vincent observed “The bane of Communities, especially small ones, is usually rivalry; the remedy is humility.” Vincent also advised his confreres of his own struggles with anger and being short tempered. While Vincent was probably being especially hard on himself to prove a point, in his remarks and in his writings, he convinces us he is no stranger to the experience of being annoyed by people. In our time, when we are used to dashing off a text or calling someone in times of frustration, it is remarkable to contemplate writing a letter in frustration and having to wait for a reply!
In response to such difficulties, Vincent consistently recommended two of the central Vincentian virtues, gentleness and humility. Vincent often used the example of Jesus to counsel forbearance in human relationships. “I can well believe what you write me about M … but I ask you to bear with him as our Lord bore with His disciples, who gave him good reason to complain–at least some of them did. Yet, He allowed them to remain in His company and tried to bring them gently.” One finds a similar call in the Qur’an describing the character of the Prophet Muhammad with his companions, “By an act of Mercy from God, you were gentle in your dealings with them—had you been harsh, or hard-hearted, they would have dispersed and left you.” Vincent saw the reality that human relationships are often difficult and that conflict among personalities not only makes life less enjoyable but prevents important tasks from getting done, leaving those who are vulnerable to suffer. Yet Vincent also believed in the power of gentleness and humility, especially from leadership, to win over hearts.
In a letter to a sister, Vincent began poetically: “I received two letters from you, which consoled me because they are your letters, but distressed me when I saw, on the one hand, that your Sister is not well, and on the other, that there is some slight misunderstanding between you. I ask His Divine Goodness to remedy both of these. The latter situation distresses me more because it seems to disrupt charity, of which forbearance is one of its principal acts; it is difficult for two persons to get along without it.” But Vincent was confident in the power of virtuous behavior, along with prayer, in such relationships: “[T]he virtue of humility is a good remedy for such antipathies because it makes those who practice it lovable.” Vincent’s advice to those in leadership consistently makes clear that while verbal reminders may sometimes be part of their role, setting a powerful example of such virtues is most effective.
Reflection Questions: What are some personal relationships in your work that you can sometimes find difficult? What are practices you can engage in or foster for others that allow people to bring their best, most gentle, and humble selves to their work?
Reflection by: Abdul-Malik Ryan, Asst. Director Religious Diversity & Pastoral Care, Muslim Chaplain
 “The Final Word Is Love,” The Catholic Worker, May 1980, 4. Available online at: https://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/articles/867.html. Also included in the postscript to Day’s autobiography The Long Loneliness.
 Letter 2037, “To Louis DuPont, Superior, in Treguier,” March 26, 1656, CCD, 5:582. Available online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/30/.
 Conference 202, “Gentleness (Common Rules, Chap. 2, Art. 6),” March 28, 1659, CCD, 12:151. Available online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/36/.
 See Robert P. Maloney, C.M., “A Further Look at ‘Gentleness,’” Vincentiana 39:4 (1995). Maloney explores the various meanings with which Vincent uses the term gentleness (French douceur). See: Gentleness article.
 Peace be upon him!
 Letter 1676, “To Mark Cogley, Superior, in Sedan,” November 5, 1653, CCD, 5:47.
 Peace be upon him!
 Qur’an 3:159 tr. M.A.S. Abdel Haleem. Note: For Muslims this example is especially powerful as they consider the companions of the Prophet to have been very righteous, yet, they would have run away if not treated gently, a similar point to that made by Vincent in talking about the disciples of Jesus.
 Letter 2110, “To Sister Charlotte Royer, Sister Servant, in Richelieu,” July 26, 1656, CCD, 6:50. Available online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/31/.
Submit names of loved ones lost over the past year and join us for the Annual Gathering of Remembrance:
The DePaul community is invited to join the Division of Mission and Ministry for our annual Gathering of Remembrance, an interfaith memorial service for all community members who have lost loved ones over the past year. This service in Cortelyou Commons (and broadcast over Zoom) on November 17 invites us to stand together in mutual support and solidarity with our colleagues as the calendar year draws to its close.
We invite the entire DePaul community to please submit the names of loved ones for remembrance by the end of Thursday, November 10th so that they can be included in the service. If you know of anyone who has lost a loved one over the last year, please share this announcement. We want to honor their memory. All are invited to join us as we celebrate their memory.
Learn more at: https://gathering-of-remembrance.eventbrite.com