What Is the Vincentian Family’s Best kept Secret?

Best kept secrets

Who can forget the “treasure map” of  Robert Louis Stenson’s Treasure Island? There are certainly lots of best-kept secrets. They range from the secret ingredient in Coco-Cola to how to fold the Hapsburg Napkin pictured below. And who can forget the “treasure map” of Treasure Island?

The “Hapsburg Napkin” – Do you know how to fold this?

The way napkins are folded at Austrian state events is a closely guarded secret that only two people know who pass it on to someone else before they die.

Closer to home… for many years we have referred to the Church’s Social Teaching as its best-kept secret.

Sssh! The Vincentian Family is not without its best-kept secrets.

Many people were surprised that the Eastern Province Miraculous Medal Facebook page has 3 million followers.

Here is another major secret.

Rather than read about it in words just look at the following treasure map. Click on the picture to open the map to this treasure trove of readily accessible insights about what makes Vincentians tick.

A picture worth a thousand links

Just click on the graphic to access this treasure map! (Please be sure to bookmark it or you may not be able to find it again!)

Click on the graphic to be taken into the cave of treasures!

A Vincentian Seminarian looks back… and forward!

“Get ready to walk on paths along you never thought you would walk.” A Vincentian Seminarian looks back… and forward! 

On Sunday, February 17 at the 5:30 Sunday student Mass at St. Thomas More Church on the campus of St. John’s University, Vincentian seminarian Jose Alex Palacios share the following reflection after communion on his vocational journey.


A journey begins

I am Jose Alexander Palacios, a Vincentian seminarian and a senior at St. John’s University in New York City. I want to share my journey in discerning a vocation to the priesthood with you. As I reflect on a journey of following Christ. I concluded that if you start following Christ Jesus, get ready to walk on paths along you never thought you would walk.

I am from El Salvador, and grew up in a family that was fervent in living Catholic faith. It is, for me, a joy to remember my childhood, as during those years I received so much love and taught Christian values that these have marked my life. However, in my adolescence, things began to change. My interest in the faith declined. I stopped participating in the life of my Church community, although, I continued going to Sunday Mass. I began to think going to church was for older people and in time, I put aside the enthusiasm I had for the things of God.

Unfamiliar roads… and a familiar one

When I was seventeen years old, I came to this country for a better life. My goal was to work for five years, make money to help my family, and return to El Salvador. Once I came here, I worked hard.  The first two years in the USA were challenging for me. I did not know anything about American life. It was a shock to me, coming from a communal view of life and family and living in a highly individualistic way of life. So after living with the support of a family in El Salvador, I was alone in a country very different from mine.  I experienced for the first time what loneliness is like. I felt I had lost almost everything; the only thing that I had left was my faith.

A few months later my arrival, I returned to practice my faith with a great desire. I attended Sunday Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Roslyn, NY. Shortly after, I became involved in the Hispanic community and remained active for seven years.  It was during those years I felt a desire to know more about my faith. I also I wanted to meet a good woman, get married, and start a family.

It was then that I started reading encyclicals such as The Splendor of Truth, Faith and Reason, and The Theology of the Body, all the works of Pope St. John Paul II.  In his various works, John Paul wrote about vocations and different states of life. I began to read, in detail, about the vocation of marriage and holy orders. I was so happy because it was exactly what I was looking for; I wanted to know more about God, the human person, and to discover God’s plan for me.


From that time on, I began questioning myself about my vocation; wondering what state of life, God was calling me to live. At the same time, my relationship with Jesus was growing. I realized the importance of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Penance. From that, I began to feel an appreciation for a vocation to religious life. At the same time, I denied that possibility as I thought that it was only an idea without any basis. I felt unfit for such calling. When my friends at the parish saw my enthusiasm and involvement in the church, they began to tell me “you should consider the vocation to the priesthood.”  They said they saw in me potential to be a good religious. However, I just laughed and told them that type of vocation was not for me; all I wanted was to serve God and be a good Christian.

What held me back was that I felt unqualified and unworthy for such calling; however, the curiosity to know more about priesthood did not go away. Yet, I chose to say and do nothing. Time passed and I started dating a girl. Everything was going well but a curiosity for the priesthood was still there. I felt divided and only then did I decide to speak about my situation with a priest.

The priest explained to me the different types of religious orders and asked me if I had an interest in any particular one.  I told him that I did not know.  As far as I could recall in those prior years of my life, I had never thought of or even considered the idea of becoming a priest. Because of that, I was skeptical about my thoughts.

An invitation

In 2013, a young man whom I used to see at the parish youth group, entered the Vincentian Formation House near St. John’s University to discern his vocation. A month after he entered, he visited the youth group at St. Mary’s and invited me to attend a vocation discernment meeting at the Vincentian House.  Because of his invitation and because of my curiosity I went to the meeting.

To bring you up to date, in 2014 I entered the Vincentian formation program to discern my vocation with the Vincentians. Despite my up and downs, I can honestly say the last five years with the Vincentian Community have been the best years of my life. For that, I am so thankful to God and my brother seminarians and Vincentian formators who have supported me all these years.


Today I continue in my discernment to see even more clearly if God is calling me to this way of life.  In May, I will graduate from St. John’s with a B.A. in philosophy. My next step is to enter a program of spiritual formation, called the Internal Seminary (also ‘novitiate’. It focuses on the Vincentian vocation of following Christ bringing God’s love to the poor. If this way of life and calling continues to ring true to me, I will move on to a four-year program to study theology and continue my formation for Vincentian priesthood, with a goal of ordination in the spring, 2024.

In conclusion, I want to invite you, if you have curiosity, questions, or desires to know more about the vocation to religious life, to put those thoughts in God’s hands and give yourself a chance to discern what the plan of God for you is. And do not forget, if you start fallowing Jesus; get ready to walk on paths along which you never thought you would walk.

Thank you and please keep my brother Vincentian seminarians and me in your prayers.

Mary Knew the Ordinariness of Life

Recently I was called on to preach the Monday Miraculous Medal Novena. The topic assigned was Mary and the Poor. My first inclination was to focus on her amazing Magnificat.  As I prepared my reflections I remembered that Mary knew the ordinariness of life. Yes, she is the mother of Jesus. But we can not forget that she was a mother in the historical circumstances of her day. She was poor and because of that her faith and yeses are all the more a model for us today.

Mary lived an ordinary life and responded with extraordinary faith! (Image from FreeBibleImages)

Mary and the Poor – Let’s not forget Mary WAS poor

I am often in the sanctuary of the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal. Lately, I find myself distracted by the 20-foot paintings of Mary at the Annunciation and the Birth of Jesus above the tabernacle wall and the amazing replica of the Pieta when I look to my left.

In the two huge paintings nothing is out of place. Mary looks completely at peace. There are no wrinkles in her robes. Even the shepherds/peasants seem dressed up.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Mary lived a simple life of relative ease and had everything under control

When I turn to the Pieta, I see a mother who has not aged in thirty years! I wonder whether she might have had an “immaculate complexion”… But she is clearly in pain at the suffering and death of her son.

In both directions, Mary is frozen in time, a time sometime in the late Middle Ages or the Renaissance.  Or, more to my point today, she seems to be outside time and the messiness of life. Is that why such paintings are used on Christmas cards?

It then dawned on me that the artist pictured Mary in the circumstance of his imagination rather than the circumstances of a young Jewish teenager 2000 years ago.

Then it hit me. She was herself poor! She faced what so many of us face in life, she was a real person.

The scriptures give us some wonderful insights into her spirituality, but it is only recently that we have we gotten a sense of the historical Mary, the Mary who lived in poverty… just as so many do in the world today.

The circumstances of her life

She belonged to the peasant class. Their life was grinding, with a triple tax burden: to Rome, to Herod the Great and to the temple.

She was probably about 13 or so but she certainly did not have a cell phone or someone to drive her to visit her cousin Elizabeth.

She was a peasant. We forget she walked the hill country of Judea by herself while pregnant, gave birth in a stable using a feeding trough as a crib, as today poor refugees use cardboard boxes and other homemade artifacts as makeshift beds for newborn infants.

When she made a four- or five-day journey on foot to Jerusalem once a year or so, she slept in the open country like other pilgrims. At home she struggled to make do.

She was a mother who lived through the ordinary trials of raising a young boy. (Yes, Jesus was once a young boy who had to grow… in wisdom, age and grace!)

Her mother’s heart may have been bursting with pride that he was drawing people to follow him as he preached the good news of the kingdom to her friends and neighbors. But her mother’s heart broke as she watched him plotted against by the church of her day, unjustly accused, beaten mercilessly … and nailed to a cross.

What did she feel when she saw a confused bunch of men hiding in an upper room while trying to make sense of their disappointment?

All of these forgotten truths about Mary do not show up in most artists imagination.

As I prayed about her real life, I realized more clearly than ever her amazing faith!

She was not a daughter of privilege in her life. I can see clearly now that she knew the messiness and stress of life… she was human, one of us.

She was an ordinary teenager who God looked on in very her ordinariness and choose to be the mother of Jesus. Just as her Son, she had to grow in wisdom, age and grace.

She was not unlike so many women in thousands of villages as they exist today in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Her daily life and labor were hard. With Joseph, she raised Jesus in oppressive circumstances, struggling to pay the taxes by which the rich became richer at the expense of the poor. As with the vast majority of people in world history, most of Mary’s difficult life went unrecorded.

Knowing all this I feel closer to her.

What was different about her? What was different about her was that when God called in the ordinariness of life, she answered with deep faith… not knowing what it would mean and how much her mother’s heart would be broken.

She was one of us. She lived in messy times, she did not understand but she trusted in her God in the ordinary and extraordinary events of her life.

Looking beyond the Christmas card Mary allows me to see more clearly that she is not only the mother of Jesus but why the church constantly reminds us she is a model of faith for today in the messiness of our lives.

Mary and the Poor. Let’s remember that Mary was poor… like us… and models for us responses to God’s call in the ordinariness of our lives.

Mary was faithful in the midst of the ordinariness and confusion of her life.

She said yes in her confusion at the Annunciation… and countless other yeses in the midst of her life.

That both comfortsand challenges me in the ordinariness and confusion of my life.

(For a more in-depth expression of these ideas, visit an article written by former Superior General Robert Maloney, CM in America Magazine. “The Historical Mary”)


Landing the Kingdom

“Landing the Kingdom” (Mk 4:26-34) us the title of Fr. Tom McKenna’s bi-weekly reflection on FamVin. He offers a challenge to name and recognize the imprint of grace in the reality of our lives.

Jesus’ words and parables show a deep love for reality all around him. A careful observer, he puts much of this world into his proclamation, painting his Good News with colors from the daily lives of his hearers. To convey the irresistibility of his Father’s Kingdom, he images the hidden seed sprouting under the ground. To highlight its tiny beginnings, he draws on the minuscule mustard kernel which grows into the largest plant in the garden. With imagination and creativity, he opens his listener’s eyes to the New Era already breaking into their old one.


Vincent de Paul shows much the same instinct. More than one person has commented on the broad range of metaphors from everyday life salted through his writings. In an article on freedom, Fr. Robert Maloney details Vincent’s image-conscious approach, delivering his message through familiar objects such as silk thread, trees and carriage horses. In another place, Fr. John Rybolt catalogs the menagerie of animals Vincent drew upon to illustrate his points — all the way from barnyard cows, sheep, dogs and cats over to the more exotic whales and lions. Like his master, Vincent wanted people to find the divine presence inside the boundaries of everyday experience.


A recent book about preaching was titled Naming Grace. It depicts the homilist’s primary task as sifting through the events of modern-day life and then picking out places in it where grace has made its imprint. In line with Jesus’ and Vincent’s approach, this counteracts a tendency to distance the Holy Spirit from life as we know it.  The Kingdom of God is in our midst, all three insist, and naming its movements as they circle through present-day experience furthers this claim. The homilist with eyes to see spots that presence stirring in the world and sets it inside topography hearers can recognize.

Immersed in life on the margins and expecting to find the face of The Lord in it, members of Vincent’s family resonate with this real-world approach. Not bound by the written page, the gospel they enact takes on flesh in the ordinary round. Messengers who tie links between it and everyday living bring color and impact to its power. With such imagination, we follow behind The Lord and indeed behind Vincent — whose creativity “extends to infinity.”

Lenten Pilgrimage to the Heart

Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, C.M., (President of the Vincentian Family) invites us on a  Lenten Pilgrimage to the Heart via Spiritual Direction – Sacrament of Reconciliation – Faith Sharing


Some highlights… [See Full Text ]


Dear members of the worldwide Vincentian Family,

May the grace and peace of Jesus be always with us!


As we enter the season of Lent, it is with overwhelming inner joy that we offer thanks to Jesus for this holy time of the year that helps us understand and see with the eyes of the heart His never-ending gestures of mercy toward us, toward others, toward the whole of humanity.


We continue our reflection from previous letters on the elements that shaped Vincentian spirituality and led Saint Vincent de Paul to become a Mystic of Charity. In the most recent Advent letter, we reflected on one of the principal founts from which Vincent drank as a Mystic of Charity: daily meditative prayer, daily meditation. In this Lenten letter, I would like to reflect on other founts that made Saint Vincent into a Mystic of Charity: spiritual direction, the sacrament of Reconciliation, and faith sharing.


I invite all of us to make of this Lent a pilgrimage, a pilgrimage to the heart, to Jesus’s heart and our own. If the two hearts meet, if the two hearts are filled with the same thoughts and desires, all the acts that follow, at any given moment of our lives, will be holy acts. Jesus will fill our hearts with His presence even in the smallest areas, and our hearts will become hearts according to His heart.


 Spiritual Direction


Spiritual direction, as an aid on our life’s journey, means  speaking simply and  confidentially with a spiritual director about our joys and sorrows, our daily struggles, and our successes and failures. Few things are more helpful in dealing with intense feelings, concerns, and problems than a “soul friend,” who understands us and knows the pitfalls along the road on which we are walking. The struggles we experience regarding delicate matters, like sexuality, are often embarrassing, but “honest talk” with a mature director is usually the wisest first step in handling them….

The Sacrament of Reconciliation


The sacrament of Reconciliation is the celebration of God’s mercy toward each of us. It is a ritual dialogue that embodies: 1) God’s continual outreach to us in merciful forgiveness and 2) our recognition of how much we need God’s mercy. It promises peace to those who admit their sins humbly.


Speaking the truth in simplicity is essential in the sacrament of Reconciliation, just as it is in spiritual direction. We go to confession so that we might lay our sins simply before God, confident that God’s healing love comes to us through sacramental signs. The quality of our relationship with a confessor will depend largely upon the transparency with which we reveal ourselves. It is imperative, therefore, that such a relationship be characterized by free self-disclosure and by the avoidance of maintaining “hidden corners” in our lives…

Faith Sharing

Through the centuries, various models of faith sharing emerged. Different spiritual fathers imparted a method or steps to help us listen to God’s Word, be open to receiving it into our hearts, and receive inspiration from the Spirit to understand what Jesus is telling us personally through a certain passage. Then, in all simplicity and humility, we share it with the group, the community. It is “holy ground” where we feel safe, not judged, not criticized, but heard, accepted as equals, as we are at that moment in our spiritual journey. In that kind of environment, in that kind of community, in those kinds of faith-sharing gatherings, we deepen our relationship with Jesus, ourselves, and others…


After offering some very practical steps for faith sharing he concludes…

Together we embark on a “pilgrimage to the heart.” Deeper reflection on spiritual direction, the sacrament of Reconciliation, and faith sharing and their adoption as our regular “companions” assure us that our pilgrimage will attain its objective: to unite Jesus’ heart and our own heart in order to reach the heart of all people as more effective evangelizers of the Poor.

[See Full text ]

What Makes Me Tick?

Have you ever asked the question what makes me tick?

This can be a pretty daunting question. What does it even mean, ‘to tick’? It’s not the same as feeling happy. It’s deeper, more involved. It’s that thing deep down that inspires and pushes you. It’s the thing that makes you feel really, well, you.

What made Vincent tick?

Fr. Tom McKenna of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission writes…

Vincent de Paul is surely interesting. Coming from modest means, he wound up mobilizing tens of thousands of people to follow his vision: a world in which the people on the bottom rung of society are singled out, valued, and helped. When the saint died, the preacher at his funeral claimed that he had changed the face of the Church in his time.

Not many people would be described as having changed the face of the Church in their time. So the question of what made Vincent de Paul tick is one worth exploring.

The following 4-minute video offers a possible answer to the question “What Set Vincent’s Heart on Fire?

The text is an excerpt drawn from “A Heart on Fire 400 Years Ago Shaped Our Church Today” which originally  https://cammonline.org/jan25anniversary/ 

Visit the FamVin YouTube channel for the first 4 segments of the video presentation.

Follow the Leader

Fr. Pat Griffin CM of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission leads us from the memory of a childhood game of follow the leader to a reflection on what kind of a leader we follow as Christians.


All of us remember the children’s game, “follow the leader.”  The object of the game centers on following one child designated as “the leader” who would guide a group through a series of actions and adventures that each other would faithfully imitate.  The originality and creativity of the leader adds to the enjoyment of the game as each follower completes the course.  I have come to wonder what kinds of lessons that this game intended to teach.

On Presidents’ Day weekend, our country particularly holds up two men who held the highest office in the land—the Presidency of the United States.  One, of course, is George Washington.  The stories which I learned as a boy remain with me:  his leadership in the Revolutionary War; his willingness to serve as the first President of our country coupled to his willingness to step down when his terms were concluded; but especially (for my young mind) his desire to tell the truth in the cherry tree incident (though its historicity is questioned). Abraham Lincoln captures the pages of history for such acts as his leadership in the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and his eloquent though short Gettysburg Address. Yet what also sticks prominently in my mind is his characterization as “Honest Abe.”  As a boy, I remembered how both leaders were celebrated for the value that they placed upon telling the truth.  For the youngest among us, perhaps that was the virtue most highly emphasized.  This enabled them to be people to be trusted and worthy to be followed.  That remains true.

In the coming week, February 21-24, Pope Francis will hold a summit with the presidents of all Catholic bishops’ conferences to discuss the prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. The question of honesty and trustworthiness should hold center stage in this gathering as well. Those who wear the mantle of leadership must do so with an unambiguous fidelity to the following of Christ.

Servant leadership stands at the center of any real claim to authority.  Perhaps the clearest example of this for the Christian heart rests in the example of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples.  I keep coming back to it:

So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messengergreater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.

It seems easy to speak about washing feet and even to do so symbolically, but the truth lies in a different place.  One must be empowered by those who are led and be proved willing to guide with virtue and humility.  I pray for the leadership of good women and men for my country and my Church.

Being Taught To See What I Had Not Seen

Seeing what I had not seen

I once had the privilege of visiting a world-class museum with an artist. I had been to the museum many times before. This time, as we walked, sat, and looked, it was like I had never been there before. I saw so much for the first time! His insightful commentary helped me realize how much I had been “seeing but not seeing.”

I have since realized I really did not know how to see. Or should I say, how to focus and on what.  [This post first appeared on FamVin]

I think we have all had the experience of not seeing that we have misspelled or even omitted a keyword in something we have written. We see what we expect to see, fill in the blanks or don’t see what is missing.

Apparently, such an experience is not limited to visiting museums and proofreading what we have written.

Jesus teaches Peter and his friends to see what they had not seen

Our first three Gospel writers tell us Jesus began his public ministry with the same mission statement: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” It was in a way an essential part of his “stump speech.” (As Vincentians we pay particular attention to the words “to proclaim good news to the poor.”)

Immediately after, Jesus calls his first four followers, assuring the four fishermen, “I will make you fishers of men” (1:17b). In other words, “I’m changing the focus of your life. People, not fish, will now be your point of concentration.” They will be seeing things they’ve never seen before.

In a three-year apprenticeship, he tried to help them “notice” and “see” what he was focused on… invisible and marginalized people. They saw … but did not see… that Jesus welcomes…

  • the ‘immoral’ (prostitutes and sinners)
  • the ‘marginalized’ (lepers and sick people)
  • ‘heretics’ (Samaritans and pagans)
  • ‘collaborators’ (publicans and soldiers)
  • ‘the weak’ and ‘the poor’ (who have neither power nor knowledge)

In Luke 17:21 he clarified what he was talking about: “behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” They needed the overshadowing of the Spirit to understand. Only when you imitate me and become one with those on the lower rungs of the social ladder, will you begin to notice others in that same position. Jesus expects only one thing of his followers: to see who and what he sees. Those who do so become “other Christs.”

Late in their apprenticeship, they were still focused on when he would “establish the kingdom” and who would have the first places. It would take his death and resurrection and the outpouring of his spirit to finally focus.

The scriptures helped Vincent see what he had not seen

Vincent literally devoured the scriptures and their picture of Jesus. In the second half of his life, he discovered the Jesus who paid attention to all those to whom God paid attention… EVERYONE. His conclusion was that Jesus expects only one thing of his followers: to see who and what he sees.

Is it any surprise that the two bedrock beliefs and foundation for Vincentian Spirituality are: first, God is the most real and the most precious reality there is, and second, this precious God lives in His people… each and every one of them, especially those who are not seen! When we “see” this we have already entered into the kingdom!

This is what gives us reason to metaphorically “take our shoes off” when we come into the presence of those we serve. Anyone wanting the key to the heart on fire in Vincent de Paul could not get much closer than meditating on these two convictions– two beliefs which, for Vincent, were wrapped one inside the other. They are the key to understanding why he says, “The poor are our Lords and masters!”

As people pass through our lives…

  • Who do we see… but not see?
  • How can paying attention to who Jesus sees, help us see as he sees?seeing but not

Ten Things Pope Francis Said at World Youth Day

We all know Pope Francis has a way with words. Here are ten things Pope Francis said at World Youth Day.

The media of all kinds and all countries have tended to select quotes that fit the agenda in their own country. Everyone who heard (or read the texts) Pope Francis probably took away their own set of memories. A member of the Congregation of the Mission from Portugal shared 10 things that moved him. Here they are with links added to the full document. What would your favorite be?

  1. A disciple is not merely someone who arrives at a certain place, but one who sets out decisively, who is not afraid to take risks and keep walking. (Welcome Ceremony And Opening Of WYD, WYD 2019)
  2. A love which unites is a love that does not overwhelm or oppress, cast aside or reduce to silence, humiliate or domineer. (Welcome Ceremony And Opening Of WYD, WYD 2019)
  3. Mary found the courage to say “yes”. She found the strength to give life to God’s dream. This is what is asked of us today: Do you want to make God’s dream take flesh with your hands, with your feet, with your gaze, with your heart? Do you want the Father’s love to open new horizons for you and bring you along paths never imagined or hoped for, dreamt or expected, making our hearts rejoice, sing and dance? Do we have the courage to say to the angel, as Mary did: “Behold the servants of the Lord; let it be done”? (Welcome Ceremony And Opening Of WYD, WYD 2019)
  4. And all of us today have something that needs to be renewed within. Today we have to allow God to renew something in our hearts. (Vigil With Young People, WYD 2019)
  5. Dreaming of a future means learning how to answer not only the question what I am living for, but also who I am living for, the one who makes it worthwhile for me to offer my life. (Vigil With Young People, WYD 2019)
  6. The world will be better when more people are willing and enthused enough to give birth to the future and believe in the transforming power of God’s love. (…) Do not be afraid to tell Jesus that you too want to be a part of his love story in this world, that you are ready for something greater! (Vigil With Young People, WYD 2019)
  7. Your life today is today. Your taking risks is today. Your space is today. (…) You are the present. You are not the future of God, you young people are the now of God. (Mass for World Youth Day)
  8. Let our limitations, our weaknesses and even our sins not hold us back and stop us from living the mission, because God invites us to do what we can and ask for what we cannot, in the knowledge that his love is taking hold of us and transforming us progressively. (Meeting With The WYD Volunteers, WYD 2019)
  9. The things we pray over, we feel them and live them more profoundly. Prayer gives substance and vitality to everything we do. (Meeting With The WYD Volunteers, WYD 2019)
  10. Now is the moment when you are sent forth:go out and tell, go out and bear witness, go out and spread the word about everything you have seen and heard. And don’t do this with lots of words but rather, as you did here, with simple and ordinary gestures, those that transform and renew all things. Gestures capable of creating a mess, a constructive mess, a loving mess. (Meeting With The WYD Volunteers, WYD 2019)

Any one of these texts stimulates much thought and prayer regardless of our age.

What would be your favorites or the ones that challenge you most?



The (Not So) Hidden Costs of the Eucharist

Buyer Beware of Hidden Costs

Most of us, even non-car buyers, are aware of the hidden costs of buying a car. If we are not, we risk busting our budgets. Advertisements tout only upfront costs. They say very little of the hidden costs.

  • Financing charges
  • State and local tax rates
  • State licensing fees
  • Insurance premiums
  • Fuel economy estimates
  • Maintenance and repair costs
  • Predicted vehicle depreciation

A recent thoughtful article in the National Catholic Register about the Eucharist as the lavish meal God prepares for us in the Eucharist got me thinking about another dimension of the Eucharist we rarely pay attention to … its hidden cost… if we take what Jesus said seriously!

Do you understand what I have done?


The hidden, yet not hidden, cost of the Eucharist

Actually, it is not so much a hidden cost in the case of the Eucharist. Jesus is right up front about it! I think it is more a case of our self-centered focus on what God does for us in the Eucharist than on what God asks us to do in the Eucharist.

Let’s get down to the basic, and quite, upfront costs of the Eucharist!

After supper, he stood, took a towel and basin, then washed the feet of disciples, something a lowly servant did for his master. He became their servant. But knowing that they did not understand him he pointedly asked them. “Do you understand what I have done?” And then he explained to them… very directly! (John 13:12)

I, your Lord and Master have washed your feet. I want you to wash one another’s feet. For emphasis, he even added, “Do this in memory of me!” These were not empty words. It was a call to action. The next day he showed that he meant it when he suffered and died to show us God’s love.

He wants us to focus on action… everyday action. This is what he wants us to do… all of us… wash one another’s feet. The cost, or rather response, to the example of Jesus, is to imitate Jesus. It is a call to transformation.

His focus was not on what he was giving us with his presence but what he is asking us to do.  His explicit focus was not on the role of a priest… but on the command to each of us.

Do we take seriously the command to DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME? Are we prepared for the costs of the Eucharist?

We willingly eat the food but do we do what Jesus explicitly asks of us?

I suggest that we in the Vincentian family pay more attention to the command of Jesus Do this… in memory of me! Do what I have done for you. We are more than a social service agency. We are people who take Christ’s command and the Eucharist seriously.

In this spirit, I suggest a Eucharistic examination of conscience whenever we hear the words “Do This in memory of me.”

When and how have I washed the feet of my brothers and sisters …

  • whether by blood or common humanity,
  • whether they look like me or not,
  • whether they have “earned” my love or not.

Let’s actually do what Jesus asked us to do.

Eucharistic Thinking and Doing

  • Do I understand the Eucharist as a call to transformation and radical service?
  • Do I understand the Eucharist as a call to put on the mind of Christ?
  • How willing am I to wash the feet of the least of my sisters and brothers?
  • What are some of the ways I could in effect wash their feet in my daily life?