Servant Leader

02-25-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

02-25-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders 410 382 SVDP USA

Cardinal Robert Sarah, in his book God or Nothing tells this story:

One day a professor was hired to provide training in efficient time management to a group of heads of major businesses. He had just one hour for the subject. He told them, “We are going to do an experiment.” From beneath a table, the professor brought an enormous pot that would hold several gallons, which he gently placed in front of him. Then he held up a dozen rocks, each about the size of a tennis ball, and gently placed them one by one into the big pot. When the pot was filled to the brim and it was impossible to add another rock, he looked at his students and asked them, “Is the pot full?” They all answered, “Yes.” He responded, “Really?” Then he brought from under the table a container filled with gravel. He meticulously poured this gravel onto the big rocks and gently stirred the pot. The bits of gravel filtered between the rocks down to the bottom of the pot. The professor repeated his question: “Is the pot full?” This time the brilliant students were beginning to understand his scheme. One of them answered: “Probably not!”  “Right!” the professor replied. Again he bent down and this time brought some sand from under the table. He poured it into the pot. The sand settled into the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once again he asked: “Is the pot full?” This time in unison the group answered: “No!”

“Right!” the professor replied. As the students expected, he took the pitcher of water that was on the table and filled the pot to the very brim. Then the professor said: “What important truth does this experiment demonstrate for us?” The boldest student, who was no slouch, answered: “It demonstrates that even when we think our agenda is completely full, we can always add more meetings and more things to do if we really want to.”  “No,” the professor replied, “That is not it! The important truth that this experiment demonstrates for us is the following: if you do not put the big rocks into the pot first, you will never be able to make them all fit later.”

Then the professor asked them, “What are the big rocks in your life? Your health, family, friends, your dreams, your professional career? What you need to remember is the importance of putting the big rocks into your life first; otherwise you run the risk of failing to do so.  If we give priority to junk – the gravel, the sand, – we fill our life with futility and we no longer have time to devote to the important things.”

——–

Is Prayer one of the big rocks in your life, or does it take a back seat to unimportant things? How about seeking Holiness?

Are our Conference meetings filled with gravel or the big-rock subjects that need to be discussed?

What does your Council and Conference consider its big rocks? In our annual and strategic plans, are the most important concerns included first, or is the plan just a big container of everything large and small, more or less important to the life of the Society and its mission?

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer
CEO

02-18-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

02-18-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders 600 685 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

The Collect, or opening prayer, for Ash Wednesday Mass reads, “Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.”

I have come to value the Collect, which is a prayer that begins every Liturgy of the Word. It is a prayer written to position us to understand the scripture of the day. Notice that this Ash Wednesday prayer, which liturgically opens Lent, calls this season a “campaign of Christian service.”

This Lent, I am not in the mood to do much fasting. It seems I have already gone out into the desert and have given up a lot. So what value is there to even more deprivation? But this prayer invites me to consider fasting that would strengthen me for a campaign of service. Our Vincentian commitment to a vocation of service certainly has been tested this past year. So maybe this Lent is an appropriate time to rethink and recommit to that vocation. Maybe a new focus on self-restraint and fasting will help me on that journey.

Several years ago, Pope Francis suggested Lenten fasts, even in this year of isolation and deprivation, may improve our ability to serve our neighbors and be credible witnesses to the Kingdom of God. Our Holy Father asked us to:

  • Fast from hurtful words and speak kind words.
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
  • Fast from worries and have trust in God.
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  • Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate.
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
    Pope Francis (Ash Wednesday 2017)

Let’s all use this blessed season to renew and strengthen our belief in redemption and resurrection, so that we may be signs of hope to those we are called to serve.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

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