Our readings this week call us to prayer, to persistence, to the truth of scripture and the Church, and to faithfulness to God’s Divine Providence. All of these tie together, and are grounded first in our understanding of scripture and Church teaching, recognizing what is true and right. This allows us to understand God’s will for us (Divine Providence) when we pray. Our payer needs to be persistent and not simply convenient. When we pray, seeking God’s will rather than our own, and we pray with persistence, we trust in the presence of the Spirit and the hope of our Lord.
As Vincentians, we must carry both the simplicity of the truth of faith with us when we minister to our neighbors in need, as well as a persistence and patience in prayer that seeks God’s will and justice in all situations. Our faith and trust in God, shown through humility and mercy, is the greatest gift we give to others. Do I prayer before, during and after every home visit? Do I truly trust in God, seeking His will in all things rather than trying to convince Him of the importance of my request? Do I look to understand God’s will by first understanding His teachings that I might know Him? Am I patient and persistent in my prayer, offering it in truth and seeking truth in return?
Lord Jesus, increase my understanding of your Word. Allow me the grace to remain faithful to your teachings, seeking always to accept and embrace your will for me and others. Give me the strength to remain steadfast in my prayers seeking your will not mine. Allow me to join my prayers to those of my neighbors that together we may strengthen each other in seeking and accepting your will. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
“Stand up and go, your faith has saved you!” We hear the story of ten lepers cured, nine of whom failed to return to give thanks. Why did they not return? We don’t know. Perhaps they were angry they were sick in the first place. Maybe they weren’t sure they were healed permanently. Maybe they were coming but had not made it back yet. It is easy to get wrapped up in wondering about the nine when our focus should be on the one. When we focus on the nine, we fall into the very trap they fell into – failure to have gratitude for the blessings which are bestowed upon us; recognizing where all those blessings come from.
As Vincentians, we are often times confronted with a neighbor who does not show gratitude for the help they have received. We don’t know why they do not show the gratitude. There may be any number of reasons or hurts they are dealing with. We need to pray for them. We need to be thankful and rejoice for and with those who do show gratitude. Most of all, we need to be thankful for the blessings God has bestowed upon us, the grace he gives us to share those blessings and the healing he does in our lives. Each time we come to receive the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, we are cleaned, healed and nourished by our Lord. As we minister to others, we should do so with faith that God will lead us in the right decisions. We must recognize that the good we do is a gift from God to us. How often do we remember to give thanks for these opportunities to be his healing hands to others who in turn heal our sores as well? Do I show gratitude for the many blessings in my life? Do I focus more on those who do not say thanks or those who do?
Lord Jesus, increase my awareness of your loving actions in our lives which allow me to minister to others. Increase my willingness to submit to your guidance in the actions I take in ministry. Let me seek that guidance through prayer and discernment. Let me call out to you in faith as the lepers did. Let me move forward in faith. And let me return to you in thanksgiving for the directions you lead me in. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
In our first reading we hear words of frustration and hopelessness – “How long O Lord, I cry for help”. How often has each of us felt frustration such as this? But God says to the prophet and to us later in this book, trust me – I have this! I have the answer, but you must have faith! I’ve got a plan! A clear vision of the future.” In the gospel, the apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. But increasing faith is what WE must do for ourselves. St. Pope John Paul II said that “Suffering is an invitation to be like the Son by doing the will of the Father.” Through suffering our faith grows and we are connected to the cross of Jesus. Our blindness to His presence during our difficult times makes him no less present. But the strength of our faith during those times makes us more present and trusting in Him. We are to listen for the Lord, be patient and be faithful, and trust in his plan…and be careful when we hear His voice not to harden our hearts.
As Vincentians, we deal with so much adversity and see hopelessness and despair. The greatest gift we carry to those in need is the gift of faith and hope. We are to carry the answer of God to those in need – do not despair! Trust in the Lord always! Listen for His voice! St Vincent modeled throughout his life strength in overcoming adversity by trusting in God’s plan and being His instrument of hope to those who are hopeless. When faced with adversity for myself and others, do I turn to God in faith, seeking His will in all things? Do I trust fully that He will provide me the answers? Am I the face of despair or the face of hope?
Lord Jesus, in our humanity we can feel the frustration and the anger of Habakkuk. We too cry out from time to time as we do not see nor understand your plan for ourselves and so many in suffering. Give us the courage to increase in faith by embracing suffering and hardships. Sustain us in your love that we may come to accept your will especially when we do not understand. Let our doubt and our fear be replaced by your certain hope, with faith and trust in your desire that we all be enveloped in your loving embrace. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
This month we celebrate the feast days of our founder Frederic on September 9 and our patron St. Vincent on September 27. Frederic, along with a group of friends sought to grow in holiness by the activation of their faith. They were instructed to seek spiritual guidance in their ministry. They met as friends to discuss and debate their actions and how it helped them to grow spiritually. They wished to live the gospel values, growing in relationship to one another and to those they ministered to. They were guided by the wisdom of St. Vincent de Paul, who recognized that growth in holiness came by growing closer to Christ – and Christ was to be found in the poor and those in need. And so he went to the poor – not for the poor but for Christ. He recognized that it was Jesus – God himself – who was the source of all goodness and all that he had. He sought fervently to grow in the virtues of humility, simplicity, gentleness, selflessness and zeal – particularly in humility. He sought submission to God in humility that we might come to trust completely in His Divine Providence. His wisdom and vision inspired Frederic to found the Society and to join the network of Vincentian organizations dedicated to holiness through care for the less fortunate.
As Vincentians, we join ourselves to Frederic and St. Vincent, accepting in humility the charism they hand on to us. We accept the Rule as our guiding principles, looking always to follow the Vincentian Pathway growing in holiness, living in friendship, and ministering to neighbors in need. We invite others to join us, but have a responsibility to communicate clearly and effectively the vocation to which we invite them. Likewise, we should constantly discern how God is speaking to us through the ministry we do. Am I more interested in helping the poor or growing spiritually? Do I embrace the virtue of humility, constantly seeking God’s will for me? Do I accept with zeal, obedience to the Rule, and the FULL Vincentian charism to which I am called as a vocation and way of life?
Lord Jesus, give me the grace to gladly accept all that you ask me to do. Grant that I might grow in humility so as to embrace all that you ask of me in SVdP. Help me to become part of a network of friends living gospel values for your glory! Together, let us open our hearts of mercy and compassion to those whom you bring before us. We pray all of this in your name. Amen