11-15-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

11-15-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1200 1200 SVDP USA

Next week, we start what is the traditional year-end holiday season that extends through early January.

Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, New Years. Food, prayer, presents, parties, and football. Usually a lot of food, a lot of presents, a lot of parties, a lot of football. More than enough food and parties to cause a lot of us to begin that new year with another new diet. More than enough presents to tempt us to cut up those credit cards and swear off debt. And more than enough football…. well actually, there is never enough football.

But is there enough prayer? Is there ever enough prayer?

The thing about holidays and Holy Days is that they focus us on prayer, gratitude, and spirituality. But what about all those other days that aren’t Sunday Mass days or holidays? When it’s bitter cold in mid-February and the car is stuck under a snow drift, do we pray? Or maybe — do we curse? When it is 115 degrees with 89% humidity in August, do we pray — or do we curse? When it’s just a plain ole normal day where nothing especially went right or wrong, do we pray? Or do we just let it go by, untouched by our spiritual selves? I admit, I’ve been on the wrong side of each one of those questions more times than I wish I had.

St. Vincent de Paul said, “Give me a man of prayer and he will be capable of everything. He may say with the apostle, ‘I can do all things in him who strengthens me.’”

As Vincentians, we are women and men of prayer. And through that prayer, service, and friendship, we seek to grow in holiness and become closer to God and each other. Our meetings open and close with prayer. In our gatherings, we reflect and pray on scripture and other spiritual discussions. We sometimes pray with those we serve; we always pray FOR those we serve. Prayer is central to being a Vincentian.

So today, I pray that you and your families are blessed with happiness and peace this holiday season. I pray for those gone from us this past year who won’t be sitting around our Thanksgiving tables or won’t have presents under the tree. I pray today for an end to the war, violence, and hatred that has exploded across the globe. I pray today that civility, listening, and understanding return to our conversations and interactions in society. And I pray that those we serve find hope, healing, and relief from suffering.

And finally, I pray that when the holidays are over, the tree is back in the attic and it’s a normal boring Tuesday, that I pray. That day — and every day.

Peace and God’s blessings,

John Berry
National President

11-02-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

11-02-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1080 1080 SVDP USA

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? I don’t mean running a 10K, bench pressing 300 pounds, or completing the New York Times crossword in record time. No, I mean what was really the hardest thing you have ever done? Was it to leave home and venture out on your own? Was it to ask that pretty girl out on the first date that resulted in a lifetime of love and family? Was it to leave an unhealthy relationship or change an unhealthy behavior? Was it letting go when you really didn’t want to? Was it leaving that comfortable, well-paying, secure job to take a shot at a new opportunity?

And why did you choose to do that thing? Close your eyes a minute and think about it.

OK, welcome back. I don’t know what you might have decided was the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but I am pretty sure that whatever it was, there a very important factor that was involved in your decision to do it: Vision.

When you began the thought process about that decision, I am willing to bet that (consciously or unconsciously) you went through a process of imagining the ‘other side’ of it. You had a vision of the consequences of success — or  failure.. And as you contemplated your decision, you asked yourself “Imagine if I …”

Underlying that vision was an even more important factor: Faith.

Your faith — in yourself,  in others, and  in God — was the underlying core that made that vision something attainable and realistic, and thus gave you the courage to move forward. Likewise, in the decision process a lack of faith in any of those things might have given you the red light to say ‘No, this isn’t something I want to do/try/begin.’

In a few months we will begin what I have called our SVdP USA ‘Family Conversation.’  It is an opportunity for us to journey together in an exploration of the challenges and opportunities we have as we adapt to a changing world; just as we are called to do by The Rule, Part 1, 1.6.  As we work together in this guided process over the next few years and journey together to adapt to a changing world, let’s keep those two very important principles in our minds.

Vision: “Imagine if we …”

Faith: “What is God calling us to do as his workers in the field to support our Sisters and Brothers in Christ?”

Because if we can answer those questions and do the hard things that result from them, then we will create a beautiful foundation for the future and those who follow us in this amazing vocation.

Remember the words of St. Paul: “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.”

Peace and God’s blessings,

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