Vincentian Reflections

Vincentian Reflections2019-02-19T18:29:31+00:00
2209, 2020

September 27- Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time and St. Vincent de Paul Feast Day

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

September 27 – Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 27 – St. Vincent de Paul Feast Day

“Your ways are unfair!”  We hear this complaint in our first reading from the exiles in Babylon who thought they were being punished for the sins of their fathers; but in reality they were using this ‘complaint’ as an excuse to continue to sin themselves.  How often has each of us voiced this same complaint?  We see so often in society today people choosing to shift blame rather than be accountable for their own sinfulness.  Our pride and focus on self, causes us to buy into sinfulness like the first son in our gospel.  St. Paul reminds us that we should unite ourselves in humility to the author of humility – God himself.  We need to lessen ourselves that others might increase.  When we do, it is God himself who becomes more visible. God rejoices in those who recognize their sinfulness and strive to transform their hearts wrapped in God’s mercy and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.

As Vincentians, we come face to face with circumstances of injustice and unfairness.   Many times people struggle due to circumstances beyond their control.  Sometimes we meet people who struggle with accountability.  But we also see time and again people who embrace their crosses, count their blessings, and thank God for what they do have.  We are reminded that God didn’t promise us fairness – he promised us freedom – freedom to choose love – freedom to choose not to sin – freedom to choose to pursue hope!  Through our encounters helping the poor we can learn how to accept our crosses, trust in God’s will and grow in humility.  For as St. Vincent tells us ‘in the poor, in their struggles, we see God himself!’   They teach us humility by their living examples.  They are not perfect – they make mistakes.  Neither am I perfect.  What those who are suffering have learned though is humility and gentleness in ways I can only aspire too.  Watch those who are suffering and a common trait is care for others.  Do I pay attention?  Do I accept the gift they give me with gratitude?  Do I set my pride and self-importance to the side that I might see the presence of Christ in all situations?

Father, I am a sinner who has offended you. Grant that my heart might be touched by your presence in the poor and the suffering.  Help me to see the gift they offer me.  Help me to let go of my pride, my self-importance, my lack of patience, my deceit of even myself that I might recognize you waiting in the distance for me to journey toward you.  Allow me to embrace those in need that I might feel your loving embrace of me.  I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

1509, 2020

September 20- Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

September 20 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.” It is easy to feel the injustice of favoritism shown to those who do not deserve it – haven’t earned it.  Why should the laborers who have yet to do any real work be rewarded with the full day’s wages?  By human standards – it simply is not fair.  But God is speaking to us about His standards – and particularly as they apply to His mercy and love.  He is not being unjust to those hired in the early morning.  He does not reduce their wages or take anything away from them. Rather, He is being charitable, merciful, to those hired at the end of the day.   He gave them more than mercy – he gave dignity.  God’s love is extended to all who desire it without condition for how much they have earned it.  They only need to turn to Him, seek Him, and call upon Him.  Those who wish change may have it and have it abundantly.  For when we trust in God, we find His love is greater than our most profound hope.

As Vincentians, we encounter circumstances on a regular basis where people are asking for help who have done little to earn it.  We also encounter many times – especially today – where people are in need through no fault of their own.  We are called to extend help and His love and mercy as he has extended it to us.  We are called to set aside our prejudices and our judgments responding to those He brings before us in complete Christian charity.  “Are you envious because I am generous?” the owner says to those hired at sunrise, who protested that they did not receive more.  The Lord is saying, ‘If you begrudge generosity to the less fortunate, than you cannot be a Christian.’  For injustice is not corrected by more injustice, but rather by mercy and compassion.  When we extend help in this way, we are graced by Christ’s presence flowing through us.  Am I able to set aside my judgements and freely offer assistance AND myself in love and compassion to everyone Christ brings before me?

Father, I pray for the humility to see your presence in even the most ‘underserving’ clients.  Grant me the passion and desire to reach out in love and mercy as you reach out to me every day.  Make my generosity of love blind to circumstance and free of conditions.  Grant that I may respond to your will and trust in your Divine Providence as St. Vincent did.  I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

809, 2020

September 13- Twenty fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

September 13 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our readings this week continue the theme of reconciliation and healing wounds.  The responsorial psalm captures the essence of the twin concepts expressed throughout the readings.  “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.”  We must let go of our anger and forgive those who have wronged us.  This is where reconciliation begins.  Jesus’s response to Peter’s question in the gospel suggests that forgiveness does not end.  We continue to forgive with grace and mercy for as long as it takes.  Forgiveness is perhaps the hardest virtue to grasp after humility.  Humility calls us to set our pride and self-centeredness aside.  Forgiveness calls us to set our anger, our envy and our judgement of others aside.  We need to both forgive and learn to accept forgiveness.

As Vincentians, we face many times when those we help fail to meet our expectations of their response to the help we give.  Perhaps they make unwise decisions.  Maybe they misuse the money we give them.  Perhaps they flat out lie to us.  It is easy and tempting to simply write them off and move on to the next person.  The hard thing to do is to forgive them, and to continue to try and find ways to help them and move them to a better place in their lives.  Forgiveness, mercy and compassion insist that we do exactly that though.  But St. Vincent also reminds us that they are our masters and they offer their forgiveness to us.  Forgiveness for what, you might ask?  It is their forgiveness for the judgements we make of them.  Forgiveness for our intruding into their vulnerabilities even when we are invited in.  Forgiveness for our participation in systems that force them into and keep them in poverty so often.  It is that forgiveness that may be hardest for us to shoulder.  When have we been challenged to continue in ministry, to set aside our distrust, our hurt, and our self-righteousness so that we might continue to extend God’s love and compassion to others?  When have I taken the time to see my interactions with the poor through the lens of their lives?

Father, grace me with the virtue of gentleness and meekness that I may find patience when I feel wounded or hurt.  Allow me to replace my anger with mercy and compassion, that I may continually focus on the pains others are feeling even when I am wronged by them.  Give me the courage to never let go of extending your love and forgiveness to all without condition or reservation. Give me understanding of the pain, the fear and the loss of hope others feel in poverty.  Allow me the grace to accept their forgiveness of me, that I may more fully appreciate the grace of Your forgiveness of me.   I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

 Deacon Mike

109, 2020

September 6 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

September 6 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

We live in turbulent and uncertain times.  Tensions can run high even among friends.  Our readings this week addresses the issues of accountability and reconciliation with each other. Both are incredibly important in today’s world.  Each of us will face times of disagreement and even intense discussions bordering on disputes.   By being watchmen for each other, we find a message of hope through caring for one another and helping one another to navigate the challenges of life.  We are called to do so with honesty and truth (simplicity), with kindness, patience and mercy, and with respect and love for one another.  St.  Paul’s letter offers us the pathway forward. He reminds us that we are to ‘love our neighbor as our self.’  It begins with love grounded in respect, kindness and gentleness recognizing both the strengths and weaknesses of each person and situation.  Jesus reminds us in the gospel, we should and must take everything to prayer for where two or three are gathered, there He is in the midst of them.  It is our Lord Jesus who can lead us to resolution and reconciliation of differences.  Finally, this is because prayer – true, consistent and intentional prayer which opens our minds and hearts to God’s voice. Jesus never told us it would be easy – but he promises he will always be with us.   When we come to the Lord, we must listen with open hearts and respond to his Divine Providence and guidance with humility and generosity of spirit.  Simply put, we need to be God led and God inspired in all that we are about.

As Vincentians, we will face tough conversations with clients from time to time as well.  This is particularly true during this time when resources are limited and need is enormous.  Given the nature of the work we are doing, this is to be expected.  The question is how we deal with these issues.  Do our hearts harden as tensions rise?  Or do I seek God’s mercy and compassion – God’s will in every situation?  Do I always start in prayer for everything I am about to do?  Do I ask God to help me to have an open and loving heart that I might be open to the help He wants me to offer to others?  Do I always leave in friendship and love, even when we disagree?  Do I come humbly, with patience and kindness in my heart?

Father, give me the grace and humility to love others as myself, recognizing within each person your presence.  Allow me to set my pride aside so that I might see the full value of another’s thoughts and ideas.  Help me to be continually in prayer with you Father, and to intentionally enter into prayer with others that you might be in our midst.  Open my ears, my heart and my mind that I may listen to hear your voice and will for all things that I do. Allow me to be guided by your Spirit and to act in friendship and charity in all that you ask of me.  I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

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