How Vincent and Louise Challenged State-sanctioned Bias

Today, both in public and private forums, bias is an unfortunate reality with which most of us are all too familiar. It may be the biases of others, who seem so easily to marginalize and discriminate, or our own prejudices that lead us to make easy judgments. Whether conscious or not, bias has often plagued humankind.

This was no different in seventeenth-century France. In fact, the era of Saint Vincent and Saint Louise was cruelly stained by explicit, state-sanctioned bias against those who were socio-economically poor. This was epitomized by the “War of the Great Confinement” which began in 1656 with a royal prohibition against all manner of public begging by the destitute poor.1 All forms of private almsgiving were also outlawed. Indeed, over the course of several years, more than five thousand poverty-stricken people were deprived of their freedom and forcibly contained in a series of institutions known as the General Hospital of Paris. Such actions were an explicit manifestation of sociocultural bias, enshrined in state policy and enforced by police and the judiciary.

Amidst such persecutory and punitive acts towards the poor, Vincent and Louise committed themselves to those whom French society had most abandoned and disenfranchised. Their ministry stood as humble testimony that another world was possible, a world in which the poor were honored and respected, not criminalized. In coming to know and love those whom society had shunned, Vincent and Louise were invited to stand in solidarity with those on the farthest margins. Their praxis testified to the inherent God-given dignity of all, but most especially to those who were poor. In seventeenth-century France, for some, this was a radical belief.

We may sometimes think that the lives of those who have gone before us are encased in history, with little to say about our current reality. However, I choose to believe this is not so. If you are reading this, may I invite you to pause for a moment and consider the following?

Are there still strong societal biases today that marginalize or alienate some individuals or groups of people? How might your values and beliefs compel you to act to expose and work against these biases in order to affirm the dignity of all? Are there ways in which, like Vincent and Louise before, you are being called today to make real with your hands what your heart longs to see?


1 See Edward R. Udovic, C.M., “‘Caritas Christi Urget Nos:’ The Urgent Challenges of Charity in Seventeenth Century France,” Vincentian Heritage 12:2 (1991), 86, at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/‌vhj/‌‌‌‌vol12/‌iss2/1/

Reflection by: Siobhan O’Donoghue, Director, Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry

Having Faith in Light of Life’s Mysteries

Our world is full of mysteries. Some can be explained by science or reasoned through logic, but some remain ineffable. For Vincent de Paul, a Catholic priest, God was one of those mysteries that remained beyond our grasp. From his Christian perspective, he once noted, “the more directly we look at the sun, the less we see it; likewise, the more we try to reason about the truths of our religion, the less we know by faith.”1 For Vincent, having faith without an answer for God’s mysteries was an important part of his religious beliefs.

In our twenty-first-century United States, the mysteries of the world are drastically different from those of Vincent’s seventeenth-century France. Advances in science, medicine, and technology have helped “explain away” many of the mysteries from 400 years ago. And yet, as much as we know today, there are still many mysteries we do not understand, and still others that emerge every day.

In the end, we are left with the truth that there are aspects of our lives which require us to have faith: faith in our community, faith in a higher power, faith in an unknown, or faith in something larger than ourselves that cannot be fully grasped.

Think of something that remains a mystery in your life. How do you rely on faith to understand or live with this mystery?


1 Conference 23, Maxims of Saint Vincent, CCD, 12:386.

Reflection by: Michael Van Dorpe, Program Manager for Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry

 

Take a leap of faith. Apply to be a Mission Ambassador. Click here for more information: Mission Ambassadors Program

Seeds of the Mission: Rick Moreci

Vincentian Organization & Pragmatism 

When serving as a priest in Châtillon, France, Vincent learned a valuable lesson about pragmatism and organization. One day, he heard news of a family who was ill and needed assistance. He asked his congregation to bring soup and supplies to their home. So many people responded to Vincent’s call that the family received more food than they could eat, and much of it spoiled. This event helped Vincent realize that in order to be effective, charity must be organized and structured. It’s important to channel people’s good will in meaningful ways 

Throughout their lives, Vincent and Louise set a precedent for the Vincentian family to balance personalism with pragmatism. They knew there was value both in learning a person’s name and in working strategically to ensure that they were able to execute their work well. They also were attentive to managing resources to get them to those most in need.  

At DePaul, we strive to uphold that same balance, to hear the needs of individual students and provide an organized, deliberate response. The Student Food Pantry is one example of DePaul’s personalism and pragmatism. Rick and his team worked collaboratively to respond in an organized, sustainable way to students experiencing food insecurity. They thoughtfully considered how to create an accessible resource that honors the dignity of those using it. It has become a trusted source of support for students. Bringing in other university partners to make this effort sustainable is a great example of the power of Vincentian collaboration. Efforts such as these bring modern understanding to Vincent’s words, “It is not enough to do good. It must be done well.” 

For anyone who wishes to donate non-perishable food or household items to the pantry, you may do so by bringing your donation directly to the Student Center during any of the open building hours. Entry to the building is on the corner of Kenmore and Belden. If you would like to make a financial contribution to the pantry to help keep the shelves stocked you may visit, https://give.depaul.edu/foodpantry. 

The Streets as a Cloister: History of the Daughters of Charity

The Vincentian Studies Institute is extremely pleased to promote the publication of our colleague and fellow board member’s new work. Dr. Brejon de Lavergnée is a Professor of History and ​the Dennis H. Holtschneider Chair of Vincentian Studies at DePaul University.

“The Daughters of Charity are today the largest community of Catholic women, with 15,000 sisters in about 100 countries. They devote their lives to serving the poorest in hospitals, schools, and care centers for homeless or migrants, as well as working to promote social justice. Until now, however, the history of the Daughters of Charity has been almost wholly neglected. The opening of their central archives, combined with access to many public and private archives, has finally allowed this to be remedied.

This volume, the fruit of several years’ work, covers the history of the Company from its foundation by Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac as a confraternity of young women to the suppression of the order during the French Revolution. The study, at the juncture of women’s history and religious history, shows how much the Daughters of Charity contributed to the emergence of a new and ambiguous status in post-Tridentine society: neither cloistered nuns nor married women, but “seculars.” The Company has certainly offered a framework that enabled many resolute women to lead lives out of the ordinary, taking young peasant women to the royal court, intrepid hearts to Poland, and, more generally, generous souls to the “martyrdom of charity” among the poor and the ill.”

ISBN Number: 978-1-56548-027-8. 668 pages. Available at Amazon.com or directly from the publisher: The Streets as a Cloister

To read an interview with Dr. Brejon de Lavergnée about his new book and the Daughters of Charity, please see Crux: Taking the Catholic Pulse

Vincentian Heritage Journal Vol. 35, No. 2

The DePaul University Vincentian Studies Institute is pleased to announce the publication of our newest peer-reviewed e-book edition of Vincentian Heritage (Volume 35, Number 2).

Of note, this edition includes a significant new translation, never before published, of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet’s testimony on the virtuous life of Vincent de Paul. The document, at one time thought lost, follows after those prepared for the canonization process and offers insight from a man who knew the saint during his life. The book also advances our new design and features the following articles:

  • “Pa, Ma, and Fa: Private Lives of Nineteenth-Century American Vincentians,” by John E. Rybolt, C.M., Ph.D.
  • “Bishop John Timon, C.M., Sisters of Charity Hospital, and the Cholera Epidemic of 1849,” by Dennis Castillo, Ph.D.
  • “Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Vision of Ecological Community. Based on Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings, Volume Two,” by Sung-Hae Kim, S.C.
  • “BOSSUET: Testimony Concerning the Life and the Eminent Virtues of Monsieur Vincent de Paul (1702),” Translation and additional annotation by Edward R. Udovic, C.M., Ph.D.

To download the complete book for iPad or PC, please click here.

Individual .pdfs for each article are also available for download here.

Pilgrimage through the Pandemic

“Go, therefore, Mademoiselle, go in the name of Our Lord. I pray that His Divine Goodness may accompany you, be your consolation along the way, your shade against the heat of the sun, your shelter in rain and cold, your soft bed in your weariness, your strength in your toil, and, finally, that He may bring you back in perfect health and filled with good works.”1

Over the past week, Muslims around the world observed Eid al Adha. This greatest holiday on the Muslim calendar comes at the end of the season of the Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca, and it commemorates the sacrifices made by Prophet Abraham and his family (peace be upon them) for the sake of the One God. Of course, this year both the Hajj and Eid celebrations were nothing like they usually are. Hajj, usually attended by millions from around the world, was limited to a symbolic select few already present in Saudi Arabia. The normal mass prayers and other celebrations held by Muslims throughout the Chicagoland area could not be held. This continues to be a time of hardship and trial, and we know that many people in our own country and throughout the world are enduring great hardships.

When it became clear that Hajj could not take place as usual, one question that arose was what does this mean for Muslims as it is so important to our practice of the faith? Indeed, it is well known as one of the “pillars” of Islam. Not being able to observe Hajj and commemorate the sacrifices of Abraham and Hagar and Ishmael is a great sadness. However, it caused me to reflect that the vast majority of Muslims, today and throughout history, have not been able to make Hajj. Global travel is a privilege limited to a select few. I have never been to Mecca and intended to go this year for the first time myself. Yet, Hajj is part of the spiritual imagination of every Muslim. We tell stories about it, we learn about it, we donate funds to help others go, we honor those who have attended and celebrate their return, we ask them what they learned, and we dream about it. We seek to learn lessons from it, whether we can physically go or not. Much as we also seek to learn lessons which come from shared sacrifice and assisting the vulnerable, those lessons found in our own day to day experiences and challenges, as well as those found in the people around us.

Vincent de Paul spent a great deal of his life organizing and sending missionaries on journeys intended to be in the service of God and the poor. In his brief essay, “Vincent the Traveler,” Jack Melito, C.M., observes that Vincent’s zeal drove him to want to go wherever was necessary to advance his mission. Yet, while he did often travel in his early life, Vincent spent his later years mainly confined to Paris. However, while “his body stayed at home…his zeal roamed.”2 Vincent vicariously traveled these missions through those he sent on them, and through the letters and communications shared with them.

Whatever our circumstances, in what ways can we view the hardships and challenges we face at this time as opportunities to learn and transform? In what ways can we try to balance our willingness to make sacrifices with our hope to return “in perfect health and filled with good works”? How might we better see this difficult time as one challenging part of life’s long journey or pilgrimage?


1) Letter 39, To Saint Louise, 6 May 1629, CCD, 1:64-65.

2) Jack Melito, C.M., Saint Vincent de Paul: Windows on His Vision (Chicago: Vincentian Studies Institute, 1999), 17. Free to download: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/8/

 

Reflection by:

Abdul-Malik Ryan, Assistant Director Religious Diversity & Pastoral Care, Muslim Chaplain, Mission & Ministry

 

The Beauty of a Higher Purpose

Virtue is so beautiful and amiable that they will be compelled to love it in you, if you practice it well.1

In the remarkable short letter from which this quote was taken, Vincent responds to news that several of the missionaries would be travelling on a ship with “some heretics.” After briefly expressing his distress at what they may have to “endure from them,” Vincent spends the rest of the letter reminding them that this is God’s plan. He encourages them to use their best manners and “be careful to avoid every sort of dispute and contention.”2 Vincent expresses hope that an example of beautiful character will be “helpful” to all.

Muslims are now entering into the final week of the observance of Ramadan. Ramadan is normally a month filled with fasting, prayer, and charity; it has been this year as well, although in all other ways it has been different with mosques closed and social activity curtailed by the pandemic. In a traditional saying of the Prophet Muhammad (which he sources to John the Baptist) it is said, “the similitude of the fasting person is that of someone who is carrying a sack-full of musk in a crowd of people—all of them marveling at its fragrance (although they can’t see what has created it).”3

The experience of long days of fasting and nights of sporadic sleep risks making one impatient or hard to be around. However, we find that when undertaken with intention and perseverance, a connection to a higher purpose along with increased gratitude and vulnerability reveals a beauty in the fasting person that is attractive to those around them even if they don’t know the source of it. Such a state also increases generosity that rains upon us all, even upon those who may be seen as heretics in a particular time or place.

During times of difficulty and anxiety like those we are living now, it is tempting to be less patient, less compassionate, more selfish, or even divisive with each other, particularly with those who hold differing worldviews.

What are some practices or exercises you can engage in to remain grounded in a sense of higher purpose? Is there a foundational belief or perspective which enables virtue to emanate from you, such that its beauty and fragrance is enjoyed by and helpful to all whom you encounter?

 


1) 3032, To Philippe Patte, In Nantes, [November or December 1659], CCD, 8:209.

2) Ibid.

3) Jami at-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-Amthal (Chapter of Parables), Book 44, Hadith 3102. See: http://sunnah.com/urn/630960

 

Reflection by:

Abdul-Malik Ryan
Assistant Director and Muslim Chaplain
Religious Diversity and Pastoral Care
Division of Mission and Ministry

COVID-19: Some Wisdom from the Past. The Experience of St. Vincent de Paul

By Rev. Robert Maloney, C.M.


Listen to this post:

St. Vincent was no stranger to pandemics. On perhaps no other topic were his emotions so deeply stirred. Outbursts of the plague ravaged Europe frequently during his active years, taking the lives of many whom he loved. Marguerite Naseau, whose story he often told and whom he always regarded as the first Daughter of Charity, succumbed to the plague at 27, even before the Daughters were recognized juridically.(1) Lambert au Couteau—of whom Vincent once said “the loss of this man is like having me tear out one of my eyes or cut off one of my arms”(2) and whom he sent to establish the Congregation of the Mission in Poland—died serving the plague-stricken in Warsaw in 1653. Antoine Lucas, much admired not only by Vincent but also by other founders of religious communities at that time, died from the plague in Genoa in 1656.(3)

Tragedies piled up in Vincent’s life, especially in the 1650’s. He often spoke of “war, plague and famine” as the scourge of the poor. In addition, there were persecutions in Algiers, Tunis, Ireland, and the Hebrides. The Congregation of the Mission’s first martyr, Thaddeus Lye, a seminarian, gave his life in Limerick in 1652.(4) His persecutors crushed his skull and cut off his hands and feet in the presence of his mother. When in 1657, on top of hearing that three priests had died on their way to Madagascar, Vincent received news that six members of the house in Genoa had succumbed to the plague, he described himself as “overwhelmed with sorrow” and added that he “could not receive a greater blow without being completely crushed by it.”(5)

In his letters and conferences, Vincent mentioned the plague more than 300 times. He sent lengthy letters offering practical advice about helping plague victims to his friend, Alain de Solminihac, the Bishop of Cahors,(6) and to the superiors in Genoa(7) and Rome.(8) In his talks, he described the plague in France, Algiers, Tunis, Poland, and throughout Italy.

The dimensions were staggering. France alone lost almost a million people to the plague in the epidemic of 1628-31. In roughly the same period in Italy, 280,000 died. In 1654, 150,000 inhabitants of Naples succumbed. Algiers lost about 40,000 people in 1620-21, and again in 1654-57.

Genoa was among the hardest hit. Half the city died in 1657. The long list of members of the Vincentian Family who lost their lives there is touching.

As one might imagine, the Daughters of Charity and the Confraternities were on the front lines in ministering to those afflicted by the plague (not to mention their service to those whose lives were disrupted by war, famine, and political strife at the very same time). Some of what Vincent said to his priests, his brothers and his sisters, as well as to the lay women and men in the confraternities, is colored by the circumstances of the times and by the lack of the medical knowledge and resources that we have today. But much of what he said and how he reacted is quite relevant to members of the Vincentian Family as they confront COVID-19 today.

Here, let me highlight four points:

  1. As he struggled with painful emotions, Vincent remained convinced that, no matter what the circumstances, we must never abandon the poor. They are our “our portion” in life, he stated. He was firm in telling the members of his Family that, even in extremely difficult circumstances, we must be creative in finding ways to tend to the needs of the suffering. Vincent wrote to Alain de Solminihac, “The poor country people stricken with the plague are usually left abandoned and very short of food. It will be an action worthy of your piety, Excellency, to make provision for this by sending alms to all those places. See that they are put into the hands of good pastors, who will have bread, wine, and a little meat brought in for these poor people to pick up in the places and the times indicated for them… or to some good layperson of the parish who could do this. There is usually someone in each area capable of doing this act of charity, especially if they do not have to come into direct contact with the plague-stricken.”(9)
  2. Vincent’s evangelical interpretation of events came to the fore rapidly in such times of crisis. In December 1657, thinking of eleven members of his Family who had recently lost their lives, he wrote: “There are so many missionaries we now have in heaven. There is no room to doubt this, since they all gave their lives for charity, and there is no greater love than to give one’s life for the neighbor, as Our Lord has said and practiced. If, then, we have lost something on the one hand, we have gained something on the other, because God has been pleased to glorify our members of our Family, as we have good reason to believe, and the ashes of these apostolic men and women will be the seed of a large number of good missionaries. At least, these are the prayers I ask you to offer to God.”(10)
  3. In advising the members of his Family about how to serve in the midst of the plague, Vincent chose a middle ground. On the one hand, he urged them to stay near the plague-stricken and not abandon them; on the other hand, he encouraged the Family to observe the cautions that civil and ecclesiastical leaders were recommending. He told Etienne Blatiron, the superior in Genoa, “The only thing I recommend most earnestly and ardently to you is to take all reasonable precautions to preserve your health.”(11) Blatiron took numerous risks and died from the plague in 1657. Vincent wrote to Jean Martin, the superior in Turin, “I am concerned that you took only a short rest and went back to work so soon. In the name of Our Lord, please moderate what you do and get all the help you can.”(12) Martin lived on and served energetically until 1694.
  4. He expanded the definition of a martyr to include all who valiantly gave their lives for the poor, and he never ceased singing their praises. Speaking of the Daughters of Charity, he said, “A holy Father once said that anyone who gives himself or herself to God to serve their neighbor and willingly endures all the difficulties that they may encounter in this is a martyr. Did the martyrs suffer more than these Sisters… who give themselves to God (and) are sometimes with sick persons full of infection and sores and often noxious body fluids; sometimes with poor children for whom everything must be done; or with poor convicts loaded down with chains and afflictions… They’re far more worthy of praise than anything I could say to you. I’ve never seen anything like it. If we saw the spot where a martyr had been, we’d approach it only with respect and kiss it with great reverence. Look upon them as martyrs of Jesus Christ, since they serve their neighbor for love of Him.”(13)

Today, we face what, for most of us, is an unprecedented crisis, as we confront COVID-19. How might we deal with it in St. Vincent’s spirit? May I suggest three things:

  1. Volunteer service. The poor suffer most in crises like this. Often, they find themselves jobless. They need lodging, food, and other essential services. Our Family has a long history, from St. Vincent’s time to the present, in providing such necessities. One can only admire the doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, home visitors and others who continue to serve those currently suffering.
  2. Donations. The stock market and other economic indices have plunged dramatically in this period. Some take that as a signal to be wary about giving. But the needs of the poor are all the greater in times like this. Can we as a Family continue to be generous to the neediest?
  3. Prayer. Pope Francis and many other religious leaders are summoning us to pray for victims and for an end to the pandemic. Some beautiful prayers have been composed. Besides these, may I offer this suggestion from St. Vincent: “God himself tells us, ‘A short, fervent prayer pierces the clouds.’ (Sir 35:17) Those darts of love are very pleasing to God and, consequently, are highly recommended by the holy Fathers, who realized their importance. That’s what I urge you, my sisters and brothers.”(14)
Notations added and this text produced by the
DePaul University Vincentian Studies Institute.
March 31, 2020

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  1. Naseau’s death is mentioned in a notation to Letter 176, To Saint Louise, [Between 1634 and 1636], in Pierre Coste, C.M., Vincent de Paul: Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, and translated by Jacqueline Kilar, D.C., Marie Poole, D.C., et. al., 14 vols. (New York: New City Press, 1985–2014), 1:241, n. 2. Hereinafter cited as CCD. Online at: https://via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian_ebooks/25/
  2. Letter 419, To Saint Louise, In Angers, Parish, 17 January 1640, CCD, 2:10, n. 1. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian‌_ebooks/27/
  3. Letter 26, To Pope Urban VIII, CCD, 1:39, n. 4. Online at: https://via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian_ebooks/25/
  4. Letter 1473, To Lambert aux Couteaux, Superior, in Warsaw, 22 March [1652], CCD, 4:342. Online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/29/
  5. See Letter 2352, To Jacques Chiroye, Superior, in Luçon, CCD, 6:440. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian‌_ebooks/31/
  6. See Letter 1572, To Alain de Solminihac, Bishop of Cahors, [November 1652], CCD, 4:500-503. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian_ebooks/29/
  7. See Letter 2111, To Étienne Blatiron, Superior, in Genoa, 28 July 1656, CCD, 6:52-53. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian‌_ebooks/31/
  8. See Letter 2122, To Edme Jolly, Superior, in Rome, 11 August 1656, CCD, 6:63. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian‌_ebooks/31/
  9. Letter 1572, To Alain de Solminihac, Bishop of Cahors, [November 1652], CCD, 4:502. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian_ebooks/29/
  10. See Letter 2483, To Dominique Lhuillier, in Crécy, Paris, 11 December 1657, CCD, 7:19. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian‌_ebooks/32/
  11. Letter 2174, To Étienne Blatiron, Supeior, in Genoa, 1 December 1656, CCD, 6:156. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian‌_ebooks/31/
  12. Letter 2184, To Jean Martin, Superior, in Turin, Paris, 29 December 1656, CCD, 6:172. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian‌_ebooks/31/
  13. See Conference 27, The Practice of Mutual Respect and Gentleness, 19 August 1646, CCD, 9:214. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌‌edu/‌vincentian_ebooks/34/
  14. See Conference 5, Fidelity to Rising and Mental Prayer, 16 August 1640, CCD, 9:32. Online at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌‌edu/‌vincentian_ebooks/34/

 

Meekness, the Charming Virtue

“How good you are, a God, my God, how good you are, since indeed in… (Saint) Francis de Sales, your creature, there is such great gentleness” (29, Deposition at the Process of Beatification of Francis de Sales, 17 April 1628, CCD, 13a:91.)

In telling of his own spiritual journey, Saint Vincent de Paul described being moved and transformed as a young man by his encounter and relationship with Francis de Sales — the Bishop of Geneva later recognized by the Catholic Church (in part through Vincent’s passionate testimony) as a Saint. Vincent, who was surely intellectually gifted and ambitious as a youth, expresses in the quote above his profound appreciation for Francis and the effect he had on him and others. De Sales instilled a deep appreciation in Vincent for how approachability and gentleness serve to open hearts. This, Vincent realized, is often more important and more transformative than the work our intellect does to win an argument.

DePaul University is a very large and multi-faceted institution. As important as mission statements or other proclamations of our mission may be, students, staff, and members of our community will only believe claims that “DePaul” cares about them if they feel the people they interact with here actually do. What a difference it makes if people feel that those around them are easily approachable because they radiate gentleness, joy, and authentic concern for others!

The virtue of meekness may be seen at times as a character trait or type of charisma with which some are blessed and others are not. However, Vincent believed that it could and must be cultivated, both in himself and in others whom he mentored and guided. Vincent saw himself as someone who was naturally prone to anger, and he had to learn how to channel that anger in healthy, productive ways. Our anger can sometimes be a great gift, for instance when prompted by the suffering and injustice we observe in the world around us. Yet, it must be focused in healthy ways, or else it may be wrongly directed at those around us, or in ways that do not lead to benefit.

Who are some people in your own experience who have this gift of approachability and gentleness? What are ways that we can cultivate the virtue of meekness, while remaining authentic in our relationships and having the necessary strength to encourage others to be the best versions of themselves?

 

Reflection by: Abdul-Malik Ryan, Assistant Director and Muslim Chaplain, Division of Mission and Ministry

 

 

Vincentian Candor 101

Is the world awash in duplicity?

When was the last time you heard the media report an incredulous story? Did you hear an inner voice say, “Now, I’ve heard it all!” Such occurrences seem more frequent these days than in the past.

The age of disputed questions did not end with Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth-century. The chicaneries of seventeenth-century France prompted Saint Vincent de Paul to exclaim, “The world is awash in duplicity.” (CCD, 10:58) The saint encouraged his collaborators to “have a candid heart and candid spirit.” (Ibid.) He instructed them how to engage appropriately in public discourse and civic rhetoric. They were “never to say anything contrary” to what they thought or to their principles. (CCD, 10:286)

Now, as does a toxin, polemical disputation permeates our national psyche. We are left to ask, What must be done? Perhaps Vincentian personalism is our answer. It promotes unity in diversity and emphasizes the common good of everyone. The Vincentian way is honest, forthright, and employs the art of conversation to speak respectfully and listen attentively with a “spirit of straightforwardness and simplicity,” and ultimately, integrity. (CCD, 34a:41)

 

Reflection by:

Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., Vincentian Scholar-in-Residence
Vincentian Studies Institute, Division of Mission and Ministry

Citation:
Conference 66, Secretiveness, CCD, 10:58; Conference 86, Uniformity, CCD, 10:286; Conference 34a, Simplicity with Crafty Persons, CCD, 34a:41.