Contemplation: A Model To Follow

Contemplation: A Model To Follow 1080 1080 SVDP USA

By Tim Williams, Senior Director of Formation & Leadership Development

When we hear the word “leader” we naturally think of a great general, a head of state, one of those celebrity CEOs, or even a star athlete leading a team to victory. The great leader is an American archetype: charismatic, confident, inspiring; a leader, in short, is “large and in charge.”

For most of us, this is an image that would be difficult to live up to, so when the Council or Conference announces an upcoming election for a new president, we remain quiet, and even if invited directly to serve, we demur. “Large and in charge,” we think, “That just isn’t me.”

Perhaps instead we should first consider that it is not merely our fellow Vincentians suggesting that we consider serving as leaders. After all, we are taught to discern God’s will for us in the people and events in our lives. What people or events led us to join the Society in the first place? Surely, we didn’t come up with that idea on our own. Indeed, St. Vincent de Paul was quite clear that not a single one of his works was ultimately his own idea, all of it came from God. It was God who called us here, and God who calls us now. If He asks us, through others, to consider leading the Conference, we ought to take the time to seriously discern that call.

And in discerning, we consider also the nature of Vincentian leadership – servant leadership. Our model is not the commander, the ruler, or the boss. Our model is the master and teacher who nevertheless knelt down and washed the feet of His disciples. “I have given you,” He said, “A model to follow.” Our model of a leader, then, is not the greatest, but the least; not the master but the servant. In short, a Vincentian servant leader is not “large and in charge,” but small, and for all.

But you say that you simply haven’t the knowledge or the gifts to lead? “Don’t think,” St. Vincent de Paul once explained, “that responsible positions are always given to the most capable or virtuous.” [CCD IX: 526] Servant leadership is part of our calling, part of our vocation, and it is precisely the humility that makes us reluctant to take on a leadership role that makes us better suited to do so. Trust in providence, in this case, means trusting that “when God calls us to it … either He sees in us the proper dispositions or has determined to give them to us.” [CCD XI:128]

Our Cultural Beliefs remind us that “as Vincentians we are committed to… develop ourselves and others to become Servant Leaders.” [Rule, Part III, St. 2] When we were called to this vocation we were already called to servant leadership, and we can all have confidence, when it is our turn to serve, that “God gives sufficient graces to those He calls to it.” [CCD IX:526]


Have I truly listened to and answered God’s call to lead?

Recommended Reading

Praying with Vincent de Paul

Contemplation: Happy Travelers

Contemplation: Happy Travelers 497 497 SVDP USA

Our Vincentian formation, we are taught, is a lifelong process of becoming. Like all of God’s people, our lives are not simply a series of events, but a journey – a spiritual journey towards perfection in union with our Creator. For us, this journey follows the Vincentian pathway, our special way of living our faith, which we call Vincentian Spirituality. If we seek to imitate the lives of our saints and founders, then, it is helpful to study their lives as examples of spiritual journeys that found their destination in holiness. When we do this, we will see that for Vincent, Louise, Frédéric, and Rosalie alike, several things distinguish their journeys, their spirituality, in ways that we can imitate, perhaps most especially two things that link their actions to their spiritual growth.

First, for each of them, the practice, the actual, physical work of charity, was foremost a spiritual exercise. As Saint Vincent once explained, “loving those who are poor is to love Him in that way; serving poor persons well is to serve Him well”. [CCD XIIIb:434] “Seeing the face of Christ” is not a mere slogan for Vincentians, it is our calling by Jesus, who promised us we would find Him in the poor, and our spirituality, inherited from Saint Vincent de Paul. On our shared and individual journey then, we must, as Frédéric declared in founding the Society, “go to the poor.” [Baunard, 65]

Second, each of these role models of Vincentian holiness took the time to reflect on their encounters with the neighbor and to share with their communities the insights they’d gained. As Blessed Frédéric reminds us, “the blessing of the poor is the blessing of God.” [Baunard, 96] What a shame it would be if we were to spend so much time in the presence of Jesus Christ and not take the time to pray, to meditate, and to share with each other how He spoke to us, what He said, and how He transformed us! As Saint Louise put it, we should “reflect that Our Lord wills that, after we have worked for our neighbor, we must tum our attention to preparing ourselves for heaven which is our blessed home.” [SWLM, L.346]

Blessed Rosalie believed that reflection needn’t be done only after the work, but that “you can make it right here, without leaving your work. Reflect that your souls should be as white as these soapsuds and as light so that they can mount toward God”. [Sullivan, 116] It was Rosalie who taught this practice of Vincentian spirituality to the first members of the Society, gathering them together in her parlor after each visit to reflect on it together in the hope of better discerning their growth, and God’s will.

Our Conferences, our communities of faith, are at the center of our spiritual journeys. They are communities of “faith and love, prayer and action.” [Rule, Part III, St. 5] They are communities in which we do the work of charity, grow in faith together, and share with each other our own spiritual journeys through spiritual reflections in which “members are always invited to comment as a means of sharing their faith”. [Rule, Part III,St. 7] May we continue to share, and by sharing, be “happy travelers at the end of our journey”. [13, to Materne, 1830]


Do I truly open my heart in sharing my spiritual journey and theirs with my fellow Vincentians?

Recommended Reading

Walking the Vincentian Pathway

The VisionSVdP Prayer

The VisionSVdP Prayer 8335 2555 SVDP USA

The VisionSVdP Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, open our eyes, our hearts, and our imaginations to Your inspiration as we embark on our VisionSVdP journey and seek to discern the Father’s holy will for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and how it will adapt to a changing world.

Come, Holy Spirit, transform our doubts, ignite our zeal. Help us discern new and innovative ways to bring more people into the joy of service in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Come, Holy Spirit, grant us the simplicity to share honestly with each other, the humility to serve a mission greater than ourselves, and the gentleness to listen to each other without judgment.


Oración de la VisiónSVdP

Ven, Espíritu Santo, abre nuestros ojos, nuestros corazones y nuestra imaginación a Tu inspiración Divina mientras nos embarcamos en nuestro viaje hacia la VisiónSVdP y lograr discernir en la santa voluntad del Padre, en cómo se adaptará la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl a un mundo cambiante.

Ven, Espíritu Santo, transforma nuestras dudas, ilumina nuestro fervor.  Ayúdanos a discernir con formas nuevas e innovadoras de llevar a más personas a la alegría del servicio en la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl.

Ven, Espíritu Santo, concédenos la sencillez de compartir honestamente los unos con los otros; la humildad para servir a una misión más grande que nosotros mismos; y la gracia de escucharnos unos a otros sin juzgarnos.


A Week in Prayers October 9 – October 13

A Week in Prayers October 9 – October 13 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, October 9

Be with me, O God,
Your silent, loving presence
Reassuring me, giving me strength,
Giving me peace.
Act through me, my Lord,
Make me Your eyes,
Your hands, Your heart,
Your wordless witness,
In all that I do.

Tuesday, October 10

Be with me, O God,
Your silent, loving presence
Reassuring me, giving me strength,
Giving me peace.
Act through me, my Lord,
Make me Your eyes,
Your hands, Your heart,
Your wordless witness,
In all that I do.

Wednesday, October 11

Jesus Brother, Jesus Friend, Jesus Neighbor
Jesus in the morning, noon, and night
Jesus, Whom I love and Whom I follow
Jesus in my heart and in my soul
Jesus in the very air I breathe
Through You, Jesus,
In You, Lord,
And with You,
May I live for You,
And You, Christ, live in me.

Thursday, October 12

In my weakness, Lord, You have blessed me,
For in weakness I surrender fully,
Open only to Your will.
My weakness is Your strength,
Your strength is my hope,
On earth as in heaven.

Friday, October 13

Though weary in mind and in body,
When worry may turn to despair,
You renew me, Lord Jesus, in spirit,
I breathe in Your hope like the air,
‘Til my lightness outweighs
All the troubles of day
And You lift me beyond worldly cares.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

A Week in Prayers October 2 – October 6

A Week in Prayers October 2 – October 6 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, October 2

Lord Jesus, help me serve the neighbor
For the love of the Father alone.
May the bread that I bring be forgiven,
And my words be words of hope.
May the hand that I clasp
Clasp mine in return.
Help us know You are present with us.

Tuesday, October 3

Soften my heart, Lord Jesus,
Let me see with the eyes of love.
Help me hear the cry of the suffering.
Send me to do Your will.

Wednesday, October 4

In times of joy or sorrow, Lord,
I long to see Your face.
I know that You are present, Lord,
In every time and place;
In every neighbor, every friend,
In every flower and tree,
Broken and shared in bread and wine,
Enter now, Lord, in me.

Thursday, October 5

Help me to trust in your providence, Lord;
To give as You call me to give,
Not limited by my human judgment,
But generous beyond reason
With my time, my talents, my possessions,
And myself.

Friday, October 6

You are with me, Lord.
In the darkness before the dawn,
Hear my prayer.
You are for me, Lord.
Against all trials and temptations,
Be my hope.
You are within me, Lord.
When I empty myself of self,
For Your love alone.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

A Week in Prayers September 18 – September 22

A Week in Prayers September 18 – September 22 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, September 18

I sit silently, Lord, in Your presence,
My mind and my spirit kept still.
Speak to my soul if You wish it.
I seek only to do Your will.

Tuesday, September 19

Unburden me, Lord, of my worries.
Free me, O Lord, from my cares.
Wash away all the sorrows,
And all of the pride,
That crowd You out from
My mind and heart.
Fill me, O Lord, with Your Spirit.
I am Yours.

Wednesday, September 20

Help me to see You, Lord,
In the shivering neighbor,
Created in Your image,
Created by Your hand.
Help me to give, O Lord,
My time, my possessions, myself;
Given to me to share, Lord,
Given from Your hand.

Thursday, September 21

Lord, in my heart,
Lord, in my mind,
Lord, in my soul I love You.
Lord, in my words,
Lord, in my thoughts,
Lord, in my acts I love You.
Lord, in my family,
Lord, in my friends,
Lord, in the neighbor I love You.

Friday, September 22

Help me to walk the narrow path, Lord,
My eyes upon Your kingdom.
Help me to walk in faith.
Ease my concerns and worries, Lord,
About all the things of this world.
Help me to see with hope.
Help me to make more room for You, Lord,
Fill my heart ‘til it overflows.
Help me to share Your love.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

A Week in Prayers September 11 – September 15

A Week in Prayers September 11 – September 15 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, September 11

Heavenly Father,
Your gifts to me are abundant:
Beauty enough to overwhelm my senses,
Joy enough to fill my heart,
Love enough to lead me to You.
All of this within the people,
Each made in Your image,
Who surround me every day.

Tuesday, September 12

Lord Jesus, joy in my suffering.
Christ Jesus, comfort in pain.
You sit on the throne of the kingdom,
The cross and the nails remain.
You suffered and died for my sins, Lord.
You arose and await me above.
No cross is too heavy, no nail too strong,
To bear for the sake of Your love.

Wednesday, September 13

For all that You have given me,
Lord, I am filled with gratitude.
For all that You have promised,
Lord, I am filled with hope.
In all my prayers and actions,
Lord, I offer You my heart.

Thursday, September 14

When storm winds arise,
Or when danger is near,
I am calmed by Your presence,
For, God, You are here.
In the face of the neighbor,
In sadness and cheer,
In daylight and darkness,
O God, you are here.
You whisper in silence
Your words in my ear.
You lift up my spirit.
My God, You are here.

Friday, September 15

In Your presence, in Your sight,
Seeking heaven’s holy light,
As I knock upon the door.
Seeing now Your face,
And the Father’s joyful grace,
When greeted by the poor.
To serve is but to start
The transformation of my heart
To live in You forevermore.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

A Week in Prayer August 28 – September 1

A Week in Prayer August 28 – September 1 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, August 28

Lord Jesus, walk with me.
Catch me when I stumble,
Lead me when I am lost,
Make light my burden,
And keep me on the path
To the kingdom.

Tuesday, August 29

Send me, Lord, to knock on the door,
To feed the hungry, to serve the poor,
To comfort those who mourn and weep,
Your life to follow, Your word to keep.
When I am weak, Lord, double my might.
When I stumble in darkness, Lord, be my light.
I share all I have, and from You receive more.
Through You, and with You, and in You, Lord.

Wednesday, August 30

Glory to You, O Lord,
Above all things.
Without fear, I walk beside You.
Without sorrow, I open my heart.
In faith, I stand before You.
In hope, I bow before You.
In love, I kneel before You.

Thursday, August 31

Lord, show me Your face
In the hungry, the poor;
Show me Your face in the weary.
Show me the face
Of Your suffering
In all of the neighbors I serve.
Show, then, Your face of salvation,
And light from heaven above.
Through me, share Your face
With the neighbor
Of hope and of limitless love.

Friday, September 1

I close my eyes in the gentle breeze
With the warmth of the sun on my face.
My thoughts are calmed by Your infinite peace,
And my heart is filled with Your grace.
Your power and glory, the sun and the wind,
Wash away all my worries and strife.
Thank You, my Lord, for this moment.
Thank You, my Lord, for my life.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

A Week in Prayer August 21 – August 25

A Week in Prayer August 21 – August 25 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, August 21

My heart is restless, Lord,
Seeking comfort, seeking peace.
Lead me in my actions, Lord,
Lead me in my words.
Lead me, through the neighbor,
To the One True Peace in You.

Tuesday, August 22

Lord, lead me to riches
But not of this earth.
Instead, in Your kingdom,
Lord, give me new birth.
Grant me the riches
That eye cannot see,
For thine is the kingdom,
The glory, and me.

Wednesday, August 23

Lord, You bless me with Your presence
In the sick, in the healthy,
In the rich, in the poor,
In the young, in the old,
In my neighbor;
The image of your infinite glory,
Present in our humble humanity,
So that when I greet You,
I can look in the eyes of God
And smile.

Thursday, August 24

Lord Jesus, You gave me Your body.
You paid for my sins with Your blood.
You call me to enter Your kingdom.
Lord Jesus, I give You my heart.

Friday, August 25

You speak to me, Lord, through my neighbor,
Through the one that I love for Your sake.
You are present in all the events of my life
And through all of the actions I take.
I seek, Lord, the path to the Kingdom,
To the love that the eye cannot see.
My pathway to You is made shorter, O Lord,
For I know that You first came to me.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

A Week in Prayers July 31 – August 4

A Week in Prayers July 31 – August 4 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, July 31

Tend to this seed, O Jesus,
That You have planted in my heart.
Water and nourish it,
Turning always as it grows
Toward the light of Your divine love.
Fill my heart completely, Lord,
So that the seed of sanctity
May fall upon all hearts,
Inviting them into Your garden.

Tuesday, August 1

Heavenly Father,
Grant me faith to persevere
Discerning Your will
Through fog of doubt
Doing Your work
Up steepest climbs
Seeking Your Kingdom

Wednesday, August 2

Father, draw me closer to Your Kingdom.
Lord, implant Your will within my heart.
O God, be still the stormy seas around me,
As I strive, for love alone, to do my part.

Thursday, August 3

Lord, You are rest when I am weary,
Comfort in distress,
Peace in times of turbulence,
And direction when I am lost.
And when I am at peace,
Unburdened by worry or distress,
Still You are my beacon,
My direction,
And my hope.

Friday, August 4

On every step, Lord Jesus,
You are near.
I am never on my own in times of sorrow.
I am never all alone in times of strife.
At every time, Lord Jesus,
You are here.
My heart is never empty,
My burden’s not too much.
You are the light that guides me.
You are my hope.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

    Skip to content