Contemplation — Our Sublime Vocation

Contemplation — Our Sublime Vocation

Contemplation — Our Sublime Vocation 1080 1080 SVDP USA

As members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, we are not simply “volunteers.” Rather, ours is a vocation. A vocation is more than a simple set of activities, or membership in a club. The word itself is from the Latin root vocāre, meaning to call. Our vocation is a call from God, a sacred invitation to follow a pathway towards the perfection that He wishes for us. It is subordinate to the vocation shared by all lay Catholics; the call to order all of our temporal affairs according to the plan of God. [Lumen Gentium, 31]

The Vincentian vocation, then, is more than the sum of the actions we take, but that we taken them for love alone. It is more than Conference meetings, and more than Home Visits. It is “a vocation for every moment of our lives.” [Rule, Part I, 2.6] It is the means by which we pursue the integration of life that Pope Saint John Paul II describes. [Christifidelis Laici, 59]

If you are a Vincentian, it is because God called you here. You may not have recognized His voice at the time; His words may have come to you from another Vincentian. But it was God who called you here, the same God who calls, again and again, asking for your help; asking for a rent payment, an electric bill, a listening ear, and an open heart. You may not recognize His voice every time, but when He calls you, you answer, and you in turn pass along His call to the neighbor by your wordless witness in living your faith, and loving the neighbor as yourself.

When the tasks seem daunting, we follow St. Vincent’s advice, remembering that in responding to our vocation, “our Lord will be [our] guidance and [our] guide and [we] can do all things with Him.” [CCD I:589]

This is, as Frédéric put it, “the sublime vocation God has given us.” [Letter 90, to Curnier, 1835] It is the vocation to which God has called us, the vocation in which we are blessed to encounter Him, the vocation that each and every one of us should be offering to “to all those who seek to live their faith loving and committing themselves to their neighbor in need.” [Rule, Part I, 3.1]

It is certainly true that all of our actions as Vincentians are voluntary, but volunteering is something one does; Vincentian is something we are by virtue of our sublime vocation.


When recruiting new members, do I focus only on the work, or consciously share God’s call?

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  • Jeanne M Harper May 22, 2023 at 12:06 pm

    Right on Target — We always remind people we are sharing with — that this is a vocation – a commitment to a Vincentian Way of Living our Life with Christ, His Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.
    Jeanne Harper
    Marinette WI

  • This is beautiful and so true! It also explains, unfortunately, why there is often a “core” group of Vincentians who are always at the ready to help anywhere needed according to our abilities. To be a true Vincentian is to hear and respond to that calling from God in our hearts…to love as He loves, all He sends to each of us in any way…be it family, friend, acquaintance, neighbor, or stranger.

  • Thank you, beautiful references and encouragement! As I was reading it I was reminded of Jonah who fled from the Lord’s call, how many times the needs of our Neighbors can frighten us because they are so daunting but that is only because we are looking to our own abilities and resources and not to the Lord.

  • Amen, this contemplation states what my heart has been telling me about what it really means to be a Vincentian, in better words that I could come up with. Thank you for reminding us that one really must be called by the Lord to become a true Vincentian, and to listen for God speaking through the poor who come to us for material help and encouragement.

  • Beautiful thought to be reminded of in a kind and gentle way. thank you. as a new Vincentian, I appreciate the words of reflection that exactly fit the reason for my joining this group!

  • Bill Radjewski May 23, 2023 at 7:10 am

    Yes indeed a vocation. But, it is a vocation that I have grown into. I must say that I didn’t start this way 9 years ago. And not all of us at this point are, which is ok. Like our personal faith journeys each of us are at different places on its path. This doesn’t mean any one of us is further along, better or worse. We each freely follow the path that God has given to each of us to take. Each of our roles as Vincentians and Catholics is help and. serve our neighbors and fellow members in our spiritual journeys and temporal needs.

    • Timothy P Williams May 23, 2023 at 9:02 am

      Yes, exactly – thank you, Bill. Our formation – our Vincentian pathway – is a lifelong process of becoming, and we walk the pathway together.

  • Sr Andrea Zbiegien May 26, 2023 at 7:08 am

    I particularly appreciated
    (in the timelessness of home visits.) “The poor will have had the consolation of having clasped the hand of a friend.“
    Thank you Bill, thank you all my fellow Vincentians
    for the inspiration you give to me by following your vocation daily. By following Jesus Christ,
    by living out the gospel in so many
    special ways of the St Vincent de Paul Society!
    We do our best, the Lord handles the rest!
    Sr Andrea Z

  • Colleen Watson May 29, 2023 at 1:44 pm

    This is so inspiring! I hope it is okay that I used a portion of this letter in an upcoming bulletin article. My desire is to inspire my fellow parishioners to consider if they have a true vocation as a Vincentian and this article says it so much better than I ever could.

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