After the death of St. Louise de Marillac, St. Vincent de Paul gathered the Daughters of Charity together for two conferences in remembrance of their “dear mother.” He asked them to share their memories of the virtues they had observed in St. Louise, and that they would choose to imitate.
Among the virtues they recalled was Louise’s love of poverty, her insistence that “We are the servants of the poor; therefore, we must be poorer than they are.” [CCD X:572] This was of a piece with her great humility, by which she felt called to perform the most menial of labor in the house before asking one of the Daughters to do it.
When a loved one dies, we are sometimes left to sort through their belongings, some of them long forgotten in a basement or attic, some kept close at hand until the end. While these things may remind us of memories, both happy and sad, it’s the memories we treasure most; the little bit of the spirit of our dear departed that we carry within ourselves.
In a similar way, it is not the material assistance that is most important for us to give to the neighbors we serve, but the gentleness that penetrates their hearts, the kindness and patience we offer, and the love that brings us to them.
For us to grow in holiness together, we should always try to see and imitate the holy example of our fellow Vincentians, not only after they have died, but while they are among us, praying with us, and serving Christ in the person of the poor. Who is the member in your Conference who has never once seemed impatient or angry with anybody? Who is the one who nearly weeps at every home visit report she gives? Who is the first to ask about your troubles, and offer his prayers for you?
Seek first the Kingdom, Christ teaches us. Neither our lives nor our Vincentian ministry are best measured by the sum total of the belongings we accumulate. St. Louise left behind almost no material possessions, but her example of virtue and holiness still lives, ready to be shared by all members of the Vincentian Family today. Through her intercession, may we share in her spirit of poverty, her great charity, and her selfless devotion to God.
These alone are enough.
Which of my fellow Vincentians can I grow in spirit by imitating?
Let’s listen to a song this week: These Alone Are Enough