We often use the term “charism” when describing our Vincentian Spirituality. During this week in which we celebrated the 404th anniversary of Vincent’s homily at Folleville on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, which marked the first mission. it seems like an appropriate time to examine our shared Vincentian charism.
We sometimes simplify the meaning of charism to talents we may have, and surely our talents are gifts. But the gifts of the Holy Spirit run deeper.
The Church defines charisms as “graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church…” [Catechism: 799] Like the word grace itself, the root of the word charism comes from a Greek word referring to gifts or favors. These gifts are given to all of us freely and gratuitously.
If we think of our charisms as the seeds in the parable of the sower, we should seek to become the rich soil that yielded a hundredfold what was sown. [Mk 4:1-20] The gifts themselves are our calling – how we use them in the service of God and His Church is our answer.
Or to paraphrase the late writer and motivational speaker, Leo Buscaglia, “Your [charisms] are God’s gift to you. What you do with them is your gift back to God.”
We also recognize special charisms given to individuals or groups that inspire the founding of religious families within the church, such as the Congregation of the Mission, which dates its founding to that 1617 mission in Folleville.
At that time, and even more so as he contemplated it in his memories, St Vincent discerned the special charism that had been given to him, and that he freely shared with all who sought – and seek – to follow his way.
The Vincentian charism calls us to “love God with the strength of our arms, and the sweat of our brows;” to trust in God’s providence; and to follow Christ’s teaching to see and serve Him in the person of the poor. This is the specific way in which we, as Vincentians, seek to live the Gospel daily.
These things are not instructions, or burdens – they are gifts to us!
What we do with them, is our gift to God.
Contemplate: What personal charism do I try to return to the church “one hundredfold?”
Recommended Reading: Praying with Vincent de Paul