Our Rule tells us that our “journey together towards holiness” is made primarily in four ways: visiting the poor, attending our Conference meetings, praying, individually and communally, and transforming our concern into action. [Rule, Part I, 2.2]
Our visits to the poor are the central and founding activity of the Society; the activity that defines our particular way of being Christian. We don’t make our visits alone. Yet the visit itself is not our primary purpose. As Blessed Frédéric explained, “visiting the poor should be the means and not the end of our association.” [Letter 182, to Lallier, 1838] Our calling to see Christ’s face in the poor whom we visit is not a practical tool to facilitate material assistance, it is a reminder of Christ’s own teaching.
Few Conferences are small enough or busy enough that every single member has the opportunity to visit the poor every week, but that doesn’t mean growth in holiness is limited only to the home visitors! Instead, this is one reason that “Conferences meet regularly and consistently, usually weekly, but at least every fortnight (twice a month).” [Rule, Part I, 3.3.1] By meeting to share our encounters with the poor, we enable all the members of our Conferences to grow closer to Christ at every meeting.
We open and close our meetings with prayer, share in spiritual reflection, and support each other in our work. Our meetings ”are held in a spirit of fraternity, simplicity and Christian joy.” [Rule, Part I, 3.4] Beyond the Conference meetings, we also seek to live individual lives of prayer, believing, as St. Vincent taught, that beginning our days with prayer, our “mind may be filled with God for the rest of the day.” [CCD IX, 29] We pray the rosary together, and celebrate Mass together, especially on our Vincentian Feast Days.
Finally, true to the spirit of our Patron Saint, we seek to transform our prayer into action, our contemplation into effective love. This commitment is the fruit of the relationships we form with the neighbor and with each other. It is the zeal with which we pray for, and work for “the full flourishing and eternal happiness of every person.” [Rule, Part I, 2.5.1]
We journey together towards holiness because God creates us as social beings, whose relationship with God is reflected in our own social relationships. [CSDC, 110] United with each other and the poor, we recognize that “something of the glory of God shines on the face of every person”. [CSDC, 144]
The four aspects of our shared Vincentian journey are not separable. Through them, “we strive to develop a three-fold relationship with God, the poor and one another”. [Rule, Part III, St. 5]
To which of these four things (visits, meetings, prayer, action) can I seek to more fully dedicate myself?