Vincentians

1-16-2022 to 1-21-2022 News Roundup

1-16-2022 to 1-21-2022 News Roundup 1200 1200 SVDP USA

With 100,000 Vincentians across the United States and nearly 800,000 around the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL

NATIONAL

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

Contemplation: Thy Will Be Done

Contemplation: Thy Will Be Done 940 788 SVDP USA

We often use the word “discernment” simply as a synonym for decision-making, with an added sense of prayerful consideration. While this captures part of the meaning, discernment could also be considered the opposite of decision-making. When we discern, we seek not our best option between two choices, but true insight into God’s will in the situation. But how can we do that?

A friend of mine once asked a fellow Vincentian who was explaining the constraints of his Conference guidelines, “Is that how you will explain it to St. Peter?”

Discernment, he was suggesting, isn’t so much the actual decision, but the process by which we arrive at it. In this, he echoed St. Ignatius of Loyola, who argued in the Spiritual Exercises that to make the best choice, we should always “consider what procedure and norm of action I would wish to have followed in making the present choice if I were at the moment of death.”

In other words, while the decision itself is important, how we go about making it is even more important. Recall St. Vincent’s teaching that “God does not consider the outcome of the good work undertaken but the charity that accompanied it.” [CCD I:205] How, then, can I share the love of God (charity)? How can I do God’s will, not mine? In this way, all choices become a single choice; a choice by which we are called to live our whole lives.

Father Hugh O’Donnell’s definition of Vincentian Discernment cuts to the heart of it: “Discernment is a prayer-filled process through which each of us can discover the difference between what is my will and what is God’s Will.”

At the heart of it, discernment is meant to lead us to the discovery of God’s plan – for us, for our lives, and for our Vincentian organizations. To help us, we often follow the process that Fr. O’Donnell explained, which begins with what St. Vincent called “unrestricted readiness.”

In unrestricted readiness, we set aside our anxieties about whether we are right, how we will convince others, or even about how things will turn out. Instead, we enter into discernment with both our minds and our hearts wide open to accepting God’s will.

Simple decision-making is about closing off all choices but one. Discernment is about opening ourselves to the one true choice.

Contemplate

Do I sometimes let my own biases or pride blind me to God’s will for me and for my Conference?

Recommended Reading

Vincentian Discernment and Apostolic Reflection by Rev. Hugh O’Donnell, CM

1-10-2022 to 1-15-2022 News Roundup

1-10-2022 to 1-15-2022 News Roundup 1200 1200 SVDP USA

With 100,000 Vincentians across the United States and nearly 800,000 around the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL

NATIONAL

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

Daily Prayer 1-10-2022

Daily Prayer 1-10-2022 940 788 SVDP USA

Daily Prayer for Monday, January 10, 2022

Lord Jesus,
Grant me the virtue of gentleness
Help me to listen with patience
To act with kindness
To offer my heart to all

Amen

Written by National Vincentian Formation Director, Tim Williams.

Contemplation – The Opposite of Selfless is Self

Contemplation – The Opposite of Selfless is Self 940 788 SVDP USA

The Rule informs us that the Vincentian virtue of selflessness is “dying to our ego with a life of self-sacrifice; members share their time, their possessions, their talents and themselves in a spirit of generosity.” [Rule, Part I, 2.5.1] To share generously is surely virtuous behavior, but as St. Vincent always emphasized, it is the internalization of virtue that is most important.

True selflessness is more than simply sharing. As St. Louise explained, in order for our service to be pleasing to God, it must proceed from a good heart, with no thought to our own pleasure in giving, or to our own reputations. Without this self-denial, “our actions are empty noise. In them there is only self-love; and such self-love banishes the pure love of God…” [Sp.Writings, 536]

Bl. Frédéric echoed this notion of self-love driving out God’s love. He explained that there are two kinds of pride: to be overly satisfied with ourselves, and to be consumed with our own shortcomings, even to the point that we fail to act because we believe ourselves inadequate. “Thus,” he wrote, “love grows weak and self-love hides beneath this trumped-up austerity of our regrets.” [160 to Lallier, 1837]

Recall that our Rule says that selflessness begins with “dying to our ego.” Ego is the Latin word for I. We die to ourselves. As the Apostle declared: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”

The opposite of selfless, then, is not selfish, but self!

Our success, our money, our comfort, however great or small, are God’s gifts to us. As the story of the rich young man illustrates, it can be devastatingly difficult to give them away; so difficult, in fact, that even Christ’s disciples wondered how anybody could make it to heaven.

But beyond our possessions, our very selves are also God’s gift, and also are meant to be given away. Selflessness, as St. Louise expressed it, is to give “Him my full consent to operate in me by His power whatever He willed to see accomplished.” [Sp. Writing, 270]

Virtue begins with doing but ends with being. By emptying ourselves of self, we empty ourselves also of the doubts that can keep us from doing God’s will. We cannot will ourselves into heaven. We can only seek to make God’s will our own, and for God all things are possible.

Contemplate

What am I hanging onto? What am I keeping to myself?

Recommended Reading

Faces of Holiness

News Roundup January 1 – January 7

News Roundup January 1 – January 7 1200 1200 SVDP USA

With 100,000 Vincentians across the United States and nearly 800,000 around the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL

NATIONAL

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

Daily Prayer 1-7-2022

Daily Prayer 1-7-2022 940 788 SVDP USA

Daily Prayer for Friday, January 7, 2022

Through the troubles of the day,
Through the darkness of the night,
I place my faith in You, Lord.

Down the long, uncertain path,
Through both storms and sun,
I place my hope in You, Lord.

Thankful always for Your gifts,
Given to me to share,
I place my love in You, Lord.

Amen

Written by National Vincentian Formation Director, Tim Williams.

A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1-6-2022

A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1-6-2022 1367 1520 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

Happy New Year! The month of January is named after the Roman god Janus, who is depicted as having two faces; one looks forward and the other backward. This matches what we often do when we transition from one year to the next. What was your Vincentian experience like last year, and what are you looking forward to this year?

As the year ended, news sources were filled with stories looking back at celebrities who had died, the year’s top news stories, the most-popular music and movies, and a host of other categories of happenings to be remembered. Looking back at 2021 as a Vincentian, I find some highlights in an otherwise difficult year.

During 2021 we moved into and dedicated our new National Council office in St. Louis. We had two “Invitation for Renewal” retreats and a very successful National Assembly in Houston. Our Society has also been blessed with hundreds of new servant leaders who stepped into office to lead our Conferences and Councils this October. We were blessed by their being ready to put their talents to the service of our members and the people we serve. I hope your Councils and Conferences were blessed with a few memorable 2021 highlights that have kept you serving in hope.

Certainly, there were many disappointments and losses in 2021. Events were canceled, and friends were missed. You probably experienced the death of family members and friends, including some fine Vincentians, during the past 12 months. The Society lost some beloved pillars this year; among them were Joe Mueller and Paul Collins. Let’s remember them all in prayer and keep moving forward, building on the strength and fortitude that are our Society’s legacy.

The other face of January looks forward. What will we make of this year ahead? Let’s keep hope alive by trusting in the providence of God. As we embrace our strategic plans or form a few goals for ourselves, I ask you to consider:

  • How can we help each other be better friends and Vincentians?
  • How can we make our organization function better?
  • How can our Society better serve Christ in the person of our neighbor?
  • How can the people we serve help us to be better followers of Christ?

These are the questions I that I shared in my inaugural speech four years ago. They are still my focus as I look to another year as your servant leader. Together, we can create that better Society of St Vincent de Paul toward which we all aspire.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
SVdP National President

Daily Prayer 1-6-2022

Daily Prayer 1-6-2022 940 788 SVDP USA

Daily Prayer for Thursday, January 6, 2022

My Lord Whom I cannot see,
I will love You in the neighbors before me;
In them and through them,
In acts and in words,
In Your name and for Your sake.

Amen

Written by National Vincentian Formation Director, Tim Williams.

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