What a Week!

This last week at DePaul has been unprecedented even by the standards of this past, most challenging, year. First, our hometown of Chicago became the largest city in the country to fully reopen following the outbreak of Covid-19; and so, after 15 months of restrictions, we contemplate a “return to normalcy” with care and even a little hesitation. Also, we celebrated commencement and the end of an academic journey, virtually but with style, for graduates who confront a world tested, humbled, and changed by pandemic and social upheaval. Finally, and most unexpectedly, we learned that Dr. Gabriel Esteban will step down as DePaul’s president as of June 30, 2022. All of which underscore that transition and adaptation, daunting but hope-filled, will continue.

During times of more-than-usual change and challenge, it is natural, even necessary, to gravitate towards things that help to ground and guide us. Our Vincentian mission is one of these things. Tried and tested over the centuries and capable of being adapted when need be, what wisdom does our Vincentian tradition hold for us at this moment? Here are a few suggestions:

RARELY IS ANY GOOD DONE WITHOUT DIFFICULTY.(1) Do not expect things to be easy but accept and even embrace that there will be challenges on the road to success. Challenges we can learn and grow from and eventually overcome.

BY UNION AND COUNSEL, WE CAN ACHIEVE ANYTHING.(2) Working together respectfully, dialoging and listening deeply to each other are the best ways for us to make progress as a community.

BE COURAGEOUS.(3) Now is not the time to act from fear, but instead we need to act from love with boldness and creativity.

MAKE GOOD USE OF THE PRESENT.(4) Opportunities to do good abound, if we are mindful and attentive and take advantage of this moment. The future will take care of itself.

GOD HAS GREAT PLANS FOR YOU.(5) For each one of us and for our university, choose to believe that we matter, that we are doing worthwhile things and that our story continues to unfold with hope.

Reflection questions: How do you understand these words of wisdom from our Vincentian tradition? Which of them is most timely for you in your current reality? How or why? What are other sources of guidance or inspiration for you?

Follow this link to access online resources centered upon our Vincentian mission and tradition: All Things Vincentian


1) Letter 1487, To Philippe Le Vacher and Jean Barreau, [1652], CCD, 4:361. Available at: https://‌via.‌library.‌‌depaul.‌edu/coste_en/

2) Ibid., 360.

3) Conference 135, Repetition of Prayer, 22 August 1655, CCD, 11:265.

4) L.328, To My Very Dear Sister Jeanne Lepintre, 22 September 1651, Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 371. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/ldm/

5) Letter 1202, To A Priest of the Mission, In Saintes, 27 March 1650, CCD, 3:615.

 

Reflection by: Tom Judge, Chaplain, Faculty and Staff Engagement, Mission and Ministry

 

Thanks to God We are Alive!

As we joyfully embrace the many seasonal, religious, and spiritual celebrations of this beautiful time I would like to share with you a Christian/Vincentian perspective of Easter. This day of life, hope, and connection beyond our own understanding raises a simple question: where is God in everything that is happening?

Thanks to God we are alive! This is the Easter voice that I hear in my heart today. It is a voice I have heard many times in my life from people close to death because of natural disasters, poverty, hardship, violence, etc. And, over the past year I have heard survivors of the pandemic saying again and again… thanks to God we are alive!

I recently heard it said that “more than in other times, our age is characterized by its concern for the future and by wanting to glimpse the human person of tomorrow. Most agree about this: our way of being human needs to be transformed. The real human person is still a project… it is latent in the dynamic of evolution [and transformation]. This search for a new human person has been a recurrent theme in each historic cultural moment.”(1) Today more than ever we are aware that our way of being human is not sustainable. The urgent call for a new person is an Easter call… a call that echoes as a living memory of the resurrection. This is the call from God at the heart of the paschal mystery.

This morning, having endured the pandemic, we begin to see an end to this long day of the passion. The resurrection of Jesus is revealed to us in the real signs of what is happening in our lives, our country, and our world. All can perceive these new signs of life with which God is gracing us. For St. Vincent de Paul one of the primary challenges of Christian faith was to perceive and to live God’s life in our own lives. He expected the members of his spiritual family to conform with essential values that reflected a sustainable human experience. Vincent found these values exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ the evangelizer [humanizer] of the poor, who invites us to awaken dawns of resurrection amid dark nights of history.

“I beg Our Lord, Monsieur, that we may be able to die to ourselves in order to rise with Him, that He may be the joy of your heart, the end and soul of your actions, and your glory in heaven.”(2)

In Christian faith, from a Vincentian perspective, the value of all religious practices depends on their connection with real life. When we celebrate the resurrection, we are invited to experience life in all its forms, and to commit to protecting it. We are asked to defend human life, and all forms of life, now at risk due to our individualistic and consumeristic lifestyle. We recognize God’s life in us, and this life is what we celebrate. This life is what challenges us to change and to give of our own lives.

During these times, the celebration of the resurrection cannot be disconnected from all the essential issues that are challenging our very existence: social and environmental justice, human and communal rights, freedom, racism, and equity in all its forms. All these issues call us to reshape our Vincentian Mission and spirituality. For Christians, then, the celebration of the resurrection is simply a call to advance, giving concrete signs, the agenda of a new humanity and a new world!

“I ask O[ur] L[ord] to be the life of our life and the only aspiration of our hearts.”(3)


1) Cf. Leonardo Boff, La Resurrección de Cristo Nuestra Resurrección en la Muerte, 5th ed. (Editorial Sal Terrae, 2005), p. 9.

2) Letter 1202, To a Priest of the Mission, In Saintes, 27 March 1650, CCD, 3:616.

3) Letter 2433, To Charles Ozenne, Superior, In Poland, 26 October 1657, CCD, 6:576.

 

Reflection by:

Guillermo Campuzano, C.M.
Vice President of Mission and Ministry


Sustaining the Mission

Need a different kind of shot in the arm? Join us for Sustaining the Mission and get a mission booster! Sustaining the Mission is a mission engagement program designed for staff and faculty who have been at DePaul for at least a year.

This 90-minute workshop on Thursday, April 15th from 9:30-11:00 am, will invite you to consider how to practically apply DePaul’s mission to your everyday work and life. Together, we will examine how the mission can provide a deeper sense of meaning to your daily activities. As a member of the DePaul community, our goal is to help you reflect on concrete ways you can contribute to the advancement and sustainability of DePaul’s Vincentian mission within your team, department, area, division, etc. We will also help you to develop a mission integration plan. Please note that this program also meets one of the requirements for those interested in becoming a Mission Ambassador. Register Here.

Learning to be Led

“(P)lease be steadfast in walking in the vocation to which you are called.”1

Spring Break may give us a little space to pause and reflect. So, let me ask: how much of your life’s journey has been due to your choice, and how much of it has been something not of your own making?

In the United States, at least, the narrative we often tell ourselves is that we are independent and “self-made” people who can overcome every obstacle to achieve our dreams. We trust all things are possible. This sustained optimism can indeed enable us to work through difficulties and continue to believe–and that is a good thing.

However, life often throws us curveballs. The coronavirus pandemic is not something anyone would have chosen. Nor is the unexpected death of a loved one, or other such difficult life challenges that leave us upside down. Even something minor like the untimely arrival of bad weather during an outdoor walk or picnic can be such a curveball. Much of our lives amount to responding to circumstances out of our control.

Furthermore, few of us are world class athletes, though we may have dreamed of hitting the perfect “10” on the balance beam, swimming a championship level butterfly, or hitting a game winning shot. And, few of us will author an award-winning novel, become a nuclear physicist, win an Academy award, or win a million dollars even though we may have fantasized what it might be like. Our lives are probably somewhat less remarkable. They are typically characterized by some degree of human limitation that is not of our making, nor our desire.

Further tempering the narrative of the “self-made” person, consider that our identity and the choices we make are shaped by our families, communities, and relationships. We are often required to balance our own needs and wants with those of others.

Learning to be led through the events and relationships that shape our lives, then, is at the heart of living with a sense of vocation and mission, both individually and as an institution. The dreams we have for our lives are tempered, shaped, and redirected by the realities and circumstances we face. Most of these are outside our control or making and not of our choosing.

Living with a sense of vocation, or mission, is a way of being, a way of journeying through our lives. We are not simply choosing our personal playlist, making everything exactly how we would like it. Our personal hopes and dreams are an important part of the big picture. But so is being receptive to what life offers and to what our reality enables us to do and to be as we respond to the challenges that unexpectedly arise along the way.

Being steadfast in living our mission and walking in our vocation may not mean that things work out exactly as we planned, or in a predictable manner. It does mean faithfully discerning each step we take along the way as circumstances allow. The story of our lives is as much about being led, about being receptive to what emerges on the journey, as it is about forging a path of our choice.

Perhaps this is what Vincent meant when he said: “Wisdom consists in following Providence step by step.”2


1 Letter 1824, To a Priest of the Mission, 2 January 1655, CCD, 5:256.
Letter to Bernard Codoing, in Rome, 6 August 1644, CCD, 2:521

Reflection by: Mark Laboe, Associate VP for Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry

Light at the end of the tunnel…

If you missed our “Remembering the Year Past: Transitioning to Hope” Program… Watch it above. 

It’s been a year! Over the past few days and weeks, many have engaged in reflection on the long year we have just endured together. Thoughts have swirled around hardships, sacrifices, broken dreams, lost moments, loss of life, on-going illness, virtual classrooms, vaccinations and all the realities that we’ve experienced due to the COVID pandemic.

It has been a long, arduous year and, at times, many have wondered if we would ever get past the turbulence. But, today there is a glimmer of light at the end of this pandemic tunnel as vaccinations become more abundant. We are hearing hopeful chatter about returning to campus, returning to gatherings, and returning to life as we once knew it. There is hope, and yet, we are cautioned to continue distancing, wear masks and SLOW DOWN!

As we move forward, much more slowly than we’d like, we are certain to be engulfed in the on-going struggles of these times. Indeed, these waning days of the pandemic may truly be some of the most challenging. It is in such times that we return to our wisdom figures, those who have endured so much in their own lives and in their own ways, and we find encouragement. St. Vincent, through the echoes of time, encourages us as we keep our eyes on the light:

“Trust firmly in God’s guidance and encourage your people to have this trust in the present disturbances; the storm will abate, and the calm will be greater and more pleasing than ever. “[ Vincent de Paul (Volume: 5 | Page#: 454) To Charles Ozenne, 15 October, 1655 added on 6/28/2011]

In the weeks and months ahead, please know that DePaul’s Mission and Ministry staff is here to encourage you and accompany you along the way. If you find yourself weary, please do not hesitate to reach out to the ministers in your midst who will bring you words of hope and cheer you on as we all wait for the storm to abate and the light to shine brightly.

FACULTY & STAFF

Individual Pastoral Support for Faculty and Staff

Mission and Ministry’s Faculty and Staff Engagement Team (FASE) is available to provide a listening ear and pastoral support for individual faculty and staff. Appointments can be scheduled using the following links:

Abdul-Malik Ryan:  https://ChaplainAbuNoor.as.me/
Mark Laboe:   https://MarkLaboe.as.me/
Siobhan O’Donoghue:  https://Siobhan.as.me/
Tom Judge by email:   tjudge@depaul.edu
General FASE email address:  FASE@depaul.edu

STUDENTS

Individual Pastoral Support for Students

Available Mission and Ministry staff who accompany students are available to provide a listening ear and pastoral support for all students.  Appointments can be scheduled using the following links:

RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY & PASTORAL CARE

Pastor Diane Dardón |  DDARDON@depaul.edu (Protestant Chaplain)
Imam Abdul-Malik Ryan | MRYAN42@depaul.edu (Muslim Chaplain)
Minister Jene Colvin | JCOLVIN3@depaul.edu (Protestant & Interfaith Minister)
Matthew Charnay | MCHARNAY@depaul.edu (Jewish Life & Interfaith Coordinator)

CATHOLIC CAMPUS MINISTRY

Amanda Thompson  | ATHOMP44@depaul.edu
Matt Merkt  | MMERKT@depaul.edu
Ceni de la Torre  | ADELATO2@depaul.edu

VINCENTIAN FORMATION AND SERVICE

Karl Nass  | KNASS@depaul.edu
Emily LaHood Olsen  | ELAHOOD@depaul.edu
Joyana Dvorak  | JJACOBY5@depaul.edu
Katie Sullivan  | KSULLI47@depaul
Gina Leal | GLEAL1@depaul.edu

Georgie Torres-Reyes GTORRES@depaul.edu

Why are We Here?

Many of us believe that now and again it is a good idea to ask, “why am I here?”

Why am I here…why am I here…? Such an innocent question. Such an infinite variety of existential responses. And, though we may never be fully satisfied with our answers, entertaining the question is worthwhile.

Right now, DePaul University finds itself asking institutionally “why are we here?” That question emanated throughout the Mission Statement dialogues undertaken around the university over the fall quarter. And, it continues to challenge us as we respond to the Covid public health crisis and wrestle with its corresponding economic circumstances. Addressing this question will take all the good will, wisdom, and participation DePaul can muster. Thankfully, we have DePaul’s nearly 125-year history to help illuminate our reason for being here today. Beyond that, we have the Vincentian tradition begun by Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, and their earliest colleagues. How might that heritage be helpful in shaping our answer to the question “why are we here?” Among many possibilities, one comes to mind.

In the spring of 1658, an elderly Vincent de Paul presented his only published work, “The Common Rules of the Congregation of the Mission,” to his community. It was meant to serve as a guide and instruction manual. Not by accident, Vincent chose to begin the first and last chapters of the Rules with the same biblical verse. Taken from the first verse of the Acts of the Apostles, it says Jesus began “to do and to teach.”1 Vincent chose this phrase as the inspiration and model for his missionaries.2 How wonderfully it captures the legacy of Vincent de Paul and how prophetically it names our purpose at DePaul University.

“To do and to teach” calls us to be active and public facing in order to benefit the common good. To do and to teach asks that we be intentional and reflective in learning from our experiences. As community members and collaborators, to do and to teach means giving and receiving respect, joy, and empowerment from one another. We are called to do virtuous work, aspire to the highest ideals, and to pay particular attention to those who are neglected or marginalized. Now and moving forward, to do and to teach means being anti-racist. It means caring for the earth. It means giving our students the most cost-effective, holistic education possible; one that prepares them to succeed. At the same time, it means providing our staff and faculty with a place that is equitable and inclusive; a community wherein they flourish.

Why are you here? To do and to teach! Such a simple question and response. Such transformative, empowering potential.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: How would you answer the question: Why are you here? How would you answer the question: Why is DePaul University here? How does “to do and to teach” apply to you?


1 “It is worthy of note that both the first and last chapters of the Common Rules open with the same biblical reference, namely to the fact that Jesus ‘began to do and to teach.’” Warren Dicharry, C.M., “Saint Vincent and Sacred Scripture,” Vincentian Heritage 10:2 (1989), 139. See: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/vhj/‌vol10/iss2/2/

2 In the Common Rules, Vincent made clear that Jesus began by doing and then followed with teaching. Both pursuits were equally important, with the former shaping the latter, and emphasized the importance placed on experience, action, and incarnation. See Chapter 1, Common Rules: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.edu/‌cm_construles/3

 

ANNOUNCEMENT:

You are invited to join us for Lunch with Vincent on Tuesday, March 2nd, from 12:00–1:00 pm. We will be joined by our colleagues from the Office of Religious Diversity and Pastoral Care: Mat Charnay, Jewish Life Coordinator; Minister Jené Colvin, DePaul Christian Ministries; and Abdul-Malik Ryan, Muslim Chaplain. Together they will share how each of their Abrahamic traditions empowers them to be anti-racist. Participants will be invited to reflect and share how their values, philosophies, or religions calls and sustains them to be anti-racist.

To RSVP for Lunch with Vincent on 3/2/21: http://‌events.r20.‌constantcontact.‌com/‌register/‌event?‌‌oeidk=a07ehla8zhr4d41a1c6&llr‌=qiic4w6ab

 

 

Can We Endure This Much Longer?

You may have recently seen the news that Europe’s oldest known person survived Covid-19, after having tested positive just weeks before her 117th birthday. That person, Sister Andre (Lucile) Randon, happens to be a Daughter of Charity, a member of the religious community founded by Louise de Marillac and Vincent de Paul in 1633. She became a nun in 1944 at the age of 40, after having lived through two world wars and the Spanish Flu pandemic. She devoted many of her years to working with children as a teacher and governess and spent over two decades working with orphans and the elderly in a hospital. Sr. Andre was quoted as saying, “I’m not afraid of dying, so give my vaccine doses to those who need them.”(1)

Her long life and generous spirit puts things into perspective and help us to recognize that this difficult period we are living through shall eventually pass.

I have heard it said that the difference between a child and an adult is that an adult knows a challenging moment will pass. If only it were that easy for us! Like a distraught child overcome by intense feelings, we often have difficulty seeing beyond our present situation. Feelings can overwhelm us, cloud our vision, and prevent our understanding the larger context. We forget that life is about more than our current reality and that time will surely change our perspective. Looking back on our lives, our thoughts about all we have experienced have certainly evolved and will do so again. Sr. Andre’s life can help remind us of this fact.

Over the course of our lives, we may fall into ruts. This may happen without our even being aware. The ruts may be habits or draining, even harmful, ways of seeing, thinking, acting, or relating with others. We may wake up days, weeks, months, or even years later, only to recognize we have gone astray and lost touch with our heart’s desire. In facing this, strong doses of humility and self-compassion are necessary and healing antidotes. Surely, in her long life, Sr. Andre learned many times of the need for forgiveness.

The examples of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac also encourage us to take a long view on life. Vincent wrote to Louise: “The spirit of God urges one gently to do the good that can be done reasonably, so that it may be done perseveringly and for a long time.”(2) Louise, meanwhile, encouraged her fellow sisters by saying: “It is not enough to begin well, one must persevere, as, I believe, you intend.”(3) Keeping this perspective in mind, Sr. Andre’s example and the words of Vincent and Louise invite us to reconsider what it really means to live a good life.

Thinking of how we might look back on our life in old age, what can we do now to be able to someday say, as St. Paul did, and Sr. Andre might, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith?”(4)

How might our perspective of our current difficult reality shift or evolve with time? What can we forgive or let go of today to start anew or better move in the direction of our deepest hopes?


1) Elian Peltier, “As she turns 117, French nun is oldest to recover from virus,” New York Times; as published in the Chicago Tribune, Thursday, February 11, 2021, p. 11.
2) Letter 58, “To Saint Louise, In Beauvais,” CCD, 1:92. See: https://‌via.library.‌depaul.edu/‌vincentian_‌ebooks/‌25/
3) L.300, “To Sister Charlotte and Sister Françoise,” 17 March 1651, Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 346. See: https://via.library.depaul.edu/ldm/13
4) 2 Timothy 4:7.

Reflection by: Mark Laboe, Associate Vice President, Division of Mission and Ministry

Virtual Service Immersion Reflection

Every year, the Division of Mission and Ministry hosts 13 service immersion trips over winter and spring break. On these immersions, students travel to a different city, engage in service and social justice work through a Vincentian lens, and build community with one another. Although COVID precautions prohibited this year, the Division of Mission and Ministry worked with community partners in St. Louis, Cincinnati, and El Salvador to create virtual immersions. Below is a reflection from the St. Louis student leader, Chloe Brougham.

This December, I had the pleasure of going on the first round of virtual service immersions. For four days I zoomed into St. Louis, Missouri to learn about anti-racism through the Vincentian charism.

Each day our group of 13 DePaul students and 1 wonderful staff mentor logged onto three synchronous zoom sessions in which we learned about Vincentianism, St. Louis, social change, and about one another. In between these sessions we did individual reflections, built community over group messages, watched documentaries, participated in a virtual scavenger hunt of St. Louis, and participated in unique ways of spirituality through art, poetry, dance, setting dream intentions, and many other practices.

We engaged in authentic dialogue with many community members in St. Louis. To highlight just a few, we spoke to Sister Ellen LaCapria, a Daughter of Charity, who shared her art with us and spoke about expressions of spirituality. DeMarco Davidson, an organizer and activist who was on the ground and active in the 2014 Ferguson protests after the murder of Michael Brown, shared his story and spoke to us about acknowledging our part in systematic oppression. Kaveh Razani, an artist, business owner, and member of Cherokee Street Community Improvement District spoke with us about gentrification, cultural displacement, and his use of moral imagination to combat the cultural erasure as Cherokee Street is becoming developed.

The conversations we had with Sister Ellen, DeMarco, Kaveh, and others in St. Louis completely blew me away. These dialogues are what I will carry with me through life, hearing the stories and experiences of those on the ground making change provided insight and wisdom that we can’t get from watching the news, reading books, scrolling social media, or even in our classes; these were profound experiences of authentic dialogue, person to person.

Our group had so many connections to your Vincentian family who lives in a different city and who have different lives experiences. We had artists, activists, business owners, and Vincentians in our group who all could relate the stories and wisdom shared by Sister Ellen, DeMarco, and Kaveh. In light of all I have learned in the virtual immersion I hope to continue to be able to hold those sacred stories, seek out more stories from those most impacted by systematic oppression and learn from those working on the ground.

I think back to our Vincentian origins, of St. Louise de Marillac making the brave and unprecedented choice to have the Daughters of Charity not be cloistered, to instead go out in the streets and to be with those affected by oppression. While quarantine has left me feeling hopelessly cloistered, virtual immersion felt like a practice of community that Louise would be proud of.

Health as Treasure

As dawn replaces darkness in Chicago and lake effect clouds rise, patrons stand on cold pavement six feet apart to order hot coffee along quasi-empty streets with boarded-up businesses. The wind bites customers who shiver as they stand waiting under the gloomy sky. What do they recall about this time last year? What has changed?

Filled with nostalgia, memories may surface of bustling commerce and camaraderie—the simple enjoyments of life prior to COVID19. Then we lived with some predictability, although our sensitivities were numbed by expectations entrenched in the social constructs of yesteryear. We had hoped a new era would be more kind, just, equitable and inclusive, but life changed unexpectedly. An invisible enemy destroyed normalcy. Forced to separate, isolate, quarantine, and trace contacts, an unknown adversary began to shatter families, relationships, and communities, forcing us to acknowledge our vulnerability. Swiftly, security morphed into insecurity and anxiety, heightened by fear of the deadly danger. Modern society is neither the first nor will be the last to respond to such a challenge. Nevertheless, uncertainty and dread have bred inescapable apprehension.

“There is nothing that bothers me more than uncertainty,” acknowledged Vincent de Paul, who was keenly aware of the unpredictability of life changing events and their impact on individuals and families.(1) Louise de Marillac encountered victims of the plague in France, prompting her to advise the Daughters of Charity to “take good care of yourself amid the great dangers.”(2) She imposed travel restrictions in one town and reported that the Sisters there had “stopped the visiting of the sick and the schools.”(3)

As a Vincentian community gathered for the sake of the mission, we are called to care for one another and ourselves. In order to overcome quarantine fatigue, “we must go forward without becoming discouraged.”(4) We need to acknowledge our current reality of living during a global pandemic. Louise knew the value of self-care: “I have great need of a few days to think about myself and be renewed.”(5) As those patrons who sip their morning coffee and savor the aroma, recall Vincentian wisdom: “Take good care of your health.”(6) “Health is the most precious treasure of life.”(7)

Take care of yourself. Take care of one another. Take Care DePaul!

Reflection Questions

  1. How do I respond when dark clouds besiege my life?
  2. What enables me to summon the courage to go forward?
  3. What must I do for optimum self-care, or to be renewed?

1) 175, Vincent de Paul to Louise de Marillac, CCD, 1:240.

2) 411, Vincent de Paul to Louise de Marillac, 12 [December] 1639, CCD, 1:595-6.

3) Ibid.

4) 1307, Vincent de Paul to René Alméras, (3 January 1651), CCD, 138-40.

5) L.4, Louise de Marillac to Vincent de Paul, 4 September c. 1634, Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 10.

6) 411, Vincent de Paul to Louise de Marillac, 12 [December] 1639, CCD, 1:595-6.

7) A.92, (On the Duties of the Motherhouse), Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 810.

 

Reflection by Sr. Betty Ann

Look Up with Hope

Over the past weeks I’ve been privy to the laments of many who are trying to remain hopeful as they or their dear ones face the fear of COVID, as they struggle in a virtual world, or as they grapple with growing angst over our country. While we are living through very trying times, we are reminded by Elizabeth Ann Seton, a woman who knew suffering and struggles well, that sometimes all we can do is “look up with hope.”1

We hang onto a hope that tomorrow will be a new day with new challenges. But, in these trying times, our hope is often that we will be able to carry on and live to see a better day. Guiding the way, we are privileged to turn to the wisdom of our Vincentian sister who reminded us that no matter how difficult things are, “hope travels on nor quits us till we die.”2

It is in this hope that we will find the courage and energy to meet the challenges before us. It is in trusting hope that we look forward to a new and better day. Look up, and hope.


1) Regina Bechtle, S.C., Judith Metz, S.C., eds., Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings, 3 vols. (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2000-2006), 2:611.

2) Ibid., 1:7.

 

Reflection by:  Rev. Dr. Diane Dardón, Director, Religious Diversity and Pastoral Care, Division of Mission and Ministry

Simplicity in Hectic Times

Since the academic year started, I’ve felt like I’m learning to juggle while the balls are already in the air. Fall Quarter is hectic in ordinary times, but this school year is anything but average. We face a global pandemic, systemic racism and racist violence, a declining economy, massive unemployment numbers, and political upheaval and uncertainty. The pandemic has made burdens that people already carried much heavier, and it has added new burdens to our loads.

In those moments when it feels like there are too many balls to juggle, I turn toward the Vincentian virtue of simplicity. In the Vincentian tradition, the value of simplicity is twofold. On the one hand, it refers to clear and honest speech. When we speak simply, we are our most authentic selves. In The Way of Vincent de Paul, Robert Maloney, C.M., writes “The heart must not think one thing while the mouth says another.”1 In our context today, simplicity might invite us to name honestly when we have reached our limits and need support. Likewise, it might mean speaking truth to power in the face of injustice and political turmoil.

Simplicity also invites us to clear away the clutter in our lives to make room for the things that truly matter. In a time when we face an immense amount of mental clutter and overstimulation, simplicity can remind us to pause and refocus our attention where it needs to be. It reminds us to make room in our lives for stillness and rest.

As you start the week, notice the ways you feel called toward simplicity.

  • Where do you feel you need to speak your truth?
  • Where do you feel stretched too thin? If you’re juggling too many balls, is it possible to remove one from the rotation and/or ask for support?
  • Where is the clutter in your life? How can you actively clear it away to find room for stillness?
  • What is one way you can rest today?

1) Robert P. Maloney, C.M., The Way of Vincent de Paul: A Contemporary Spirituality in the Service of the Poor (New York: New City Press, 1992), 38. See: https://via.library.depaul.edu/maloney/13/

 Reflection by:    Emily LaHood-Olsen, Ministry Coordinator for Service Immersions, Division of Mission and Ministry