Action and Patience in a Molten Era

“The works of God have their moment; His Providence brings them about at that time and neither sooner nor later… Let us wait patiently but let us act, and, so to speak, let us make haste slowly.…”(1)

Interfaith Youth Core Founder and President Eboo Patel has described the time in which we live as a “molten era, a time of both danger and possibility.”(2) Certainly many of us have felt this throughout the pandemic, the protests that took place over the past summer, and this fall’s election season. Perhaps you even felt that way before all these momentous events began to occur at once.

One of the cautions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad was not to “curse the time,” for God is the owner and controller of time. This corresponds with the Qur’anic guidance that “It could be that you dislike something, when it is good for you; and it could be that you like something when it is bad for you. God knows, but you do not.”(3) The point is to be careful about hasty impressions, and also to remember that sometimes events that are difficult for us can bring good. It also reminds us that there are times we should undertake actions which are difficult for us but prove beneficial and important.

Vincentian spirituality reflects similar pragmatic and action-oriented wisdom, well suited to the current time. Contrary to misplaced understandings of fate or divine decree across many traditions, the Vincentian conception of Providence calls us to action. At the same time, it guards against panic and despair. In speaking of Providence, Vincent often stressed that there was a correct time for things and that they shouldn’t be rushed. This was often addressed to those struggling with impatience. Vincent encouraged them to see the wisdom in careful, reflective decision-making and an appreciation for the ripeness of undertakings or endeavors. The creative tension inherent in this mindset is reflected in St. Vincent’s directive “Let us wait patiently but let us act, and so to speak, let us make haste slowly…”(4)

One of the gifts of Vincentian spirituality, as well as other worldviews that emphasize the role of Divine Providence, is to understand the “molten” nature of almost any situation in which we find ourselves. We learn to see the circumstances of the world around us as invitations from a divine source calling for action on our part, both individually and collectively. At the same time, cultivating an awareness of God’s loving care for each of us, and all of creation, can help bring about a calmness of heart even in the face of recognizing our limitations and lack of control over outcomes. This makes the decisions we take and the collective actions we embark upon more powerful, effective, and sustainable.

What are some decisions that you are struggling with currently? What are actions that you have resolved to take to address the invitations the world is offering you? What will bring rest to your heart considering everything going on in our society and in the world that will sustain you over the long run?


1) Letter 1890, To Étienne Blatiron, In Rome, 9 July 1655, CCD, 5:400.

2) Eboo Patel, Diversity Is Not Just the Differences You Like: Multicultural Leadership in the Age of Identity Politics (Beacon Press, Forthcoming 2021).

3) Qur’an 2:216.

4) Letter 1890, CCD, 5:400.

Reflection by: Abdul-Malik Ryan, Assistant Director for Religious Diversity & Pastoral Care and Muslim Chaplain


Being Fully Present

“I would truly like to know how you really are.”

Take a moment to remember how many times you have greeted somebody over the last day. How many times have you asked the question, “How are you?”

In our fast-paced society, it is easy for this question to get lost in the flurry as we respond with a simple “fine.” In their written correspondence, we can see that Louise and Vincent paused to check in on one another. In one letter, as she was inquiring about Vincent’s health, Louise wrote, “I would truly like to know how you really are.”

Showing care and interest in the well-being of one another is at the heart of Vincentian personalism. When we take time to be present to those around us and hear how they are really doing, we honor their dignity and personhood.

How can you take time today to be truly present to those in your life – whether in your workplace, local community or family?


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

Letter 649. Monsieur Vincent. January 4, 1660. Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, page 671.

Insights on Ramadan, Mary Poppins Style


Right now nearly 2 billion Muslims are celebrating Eid.  Is it just a holiday name on a somewhat inclusive calendar for you? Does the description, “festival of the breaking of the fast” marking the end of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast from before dawn until sunset actually give you any insights or make you think, “Clearly going 17 hours with no food or drink is an occasion for JOY!”?  Do you observe Ramadan and want to share your own comments?

Well DePaul’s Muslim Chaplain and Assistant Director of the Office of Religious Diversity, Abdul-Malik Ryan, just published a blog piece originally posted on entitled “Ramadan is like Mary Poppins” in which he paints a picture of what Ramadan means to him as seen through the lens of Mary Poppins.

I’ll share a portion of the writing as a warm-up, but give the entire text a read when you have a chance, and feel free to share comments below:

In Ramadan we do things we never knew we could
If we were asked before we experienced Ramadan, when we might have tried fasting once on a relatively short day and found it difficult, whether we could fast a month straight of nearly 17 hour days, while standing to pray in the nights, maintaining our work schedule, spending significant amounts on numerous worthy causes, while maintaining a cheerful attitude with a range of people we don’t always spend time with…we would surely not think it is possible. Yet, many of us have found we can do that with the help of faith, hope, and the special conditions of Ramadan. The Banks family would never have imagined they could do the special things they did with Mary Poppins, whether it was hopping into chalk drawings, dancing on the rooftops of London, or telling off their boss when he deserved it, but with Mary Poppins around accomplishing what they would have thought impossible became a regular occurrence.

Ramadan brings joy into our lives
It is most famously in the scene where the children go to the chalk drawing in the County Fair that one sees the enormous joy Mary Poppins brings into their lives, as the song says “It’s a jolly holiday with Mary, no wonder that it’s Mary that we love.” This is of course also seen in making a task like cleaning the nursery fun, or spending an afternoon laughing themselves up to the ceiling. Although it is filled with fasting and other forms of worship, Ramadan is a time of joy for most Muslims. Most of us have some of our fondest memories in this month and we look forward to it. Routines are changed, families spend more time together, people visit each other more often. While excessive feasting in the evening is not recommended, even a small meal after fasting brings a person pleasure and tranquility. The Prophet (saw) told us that the fasting person has two joys; one when breaking the fast and one when he or she meets God. The month is filled with joy for many and culminates of course in Eid, where one relishes in the accomplishments of a month of getting closer to God and to each other.

Katie Brick is the Director of the Office of Religious Diversity

A Spiritual Life…


“Spiritual but not religious” is how many people identify themselves. I hesitate to label myself this way as I begin to uncover the truth, or lack thereof, in my own religious upbringing. Those who identify as such catch some flak for it, I think, because we don’t commit to a particular community. We don’t gather to celebrate our spirituality in a church, synagogue, temple or mosque. So what does our spirituality look like? Is it “watered down,” unfounded or ungrounded? I hope not.

I once heard that it is unacceptable to be a “cafeteria Catholic,” choosing various parts of the faith that one liked and discarding the parts that one doesn’t like. I found I had done that. I like the parts of Catholicism about preferential option for the poor, serving others and walking with people in their brokenness. But I didn’t like the hierarchy, patriarchy or history.

So now I see the spiritual life as “outside.” That “outside” is both literal and figurative. For me it is a journey outside of myself, outside into nature and outside of the comforts and norms to which we acquiesce.  Maybe it’s a focus on what science explains to be so amazing: redwoods that have stood for thousands of years, the physics of lift for a flying bird, the euphony of rain. It’s outside of buildings but also outside of one’s self. Spirituality seems to require the first step of listening – listening to others whether they are 7 years old, 47 years old or 97 years old, the President of the company or the janitor of the facility. It also requires listening to every moment; listening to the water drip in the shower, your shoes hitting the pavement, wind in the trees, air as it circulates a room, the breath of the person next to you and the laughter of a stranger.

There is a spirit that runs through and connects all those things. Maybe to get in touch with one’s spiritual self is to just stop, go “outside” and listen; but truly listen. So often we try to think of a best response to someone that we don’t actually listen to them. So often we try to think of a best response to a situation that we don’t listen to that situation. Before the planning and action, why not listen? When an upsetting situation or event arises I try to come up with a solution immediately. Maybe I just need to listen to the situation before attacking, as if it needs quelling. When a good or positive situation arises I try to think about how I can keep it going and preserve the good. Maybe I should just listen to it and let it go.

There is the spirit that gives people, animals and plants life. There must be a spirit that gives each moment and social movement life. When a community gathers to support equal rights, when a community stands up against injustice, when a community collaborates to bring about social change, it invokes a spirit. How do we nourish that spirit? How do we give spirit to the spiritual life?


Emily Kraus is an Administrative Assistant with the Division of Student Affairs who is also pursuing her Masters degree in Bilingual Bicultural Education at DePaul’s College of Education.  She is a former University Ministry student leader who completed her DePaul undergraduate degree in 2006 .