“Mary did not know it was Jesus.” John 20:15

How often do we not see Jesus right before our eyes? “Mary did not know it was Jesus.” John 20:15

Mary did not expect to see Jesus among the living

But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping…she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus…She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”

We know the story. But how could Mary not have recognized Jesus? One very strong possibility of why she did not recognize Jesus was that, in her grief, she did not expect him among the living.

Vincent did not expect to see Jesus among the living

For the first third of his life, it seems Vincent de Paul did not expect to see Jesus among the living. He was focused on the details of his life. Certainly, he believed in Jesus. But was it the Jesus he read about in the pages of the Gospel? Or was it the Jesus in the person the people he met?

We know that he came to see Jesus in every person he met.

Do we expect to see Jesus among the living?

Recently, Fr. Tomas Mavric, President of the Vincentian Family, urged the followers of Vincent to engage in Fatih sharing during our Lenten Pilgrimage to the Heart.
It seems quite providential that the team at cmeast asked 40 ordinary people some weeks ago to share their experience of seeing Christ among the living.

Enter into these very brief experiences of sharing their faith and share your faith in your circle of friends and family. They offer many examples of seeing Jesus in your life.

Click to subscribe to this very brief videos

Catching Up on Vincentian Values During Lent – Week Three

St. Vincent de Paul encouraged five particular traits in his comrades: simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. Come discover the stories of these Vincentian Values and how they are alive in the daily experiences of those around us.

Through the 40 days of Lent, a new story will be shared daily. Make it your Lenten challenge to dive into the five Vincentian virtues of simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. See how the everyday practices of being honest, approachable, self-disciplined, realistic and hardworking, in the spirit of St. Vincent, can transform your own life and the lives of others.

The Journey Begins

Day 1 – First Step on the Vincentian Way – Thomas McKenna

Day 2 – In the Vincentian Way – Mary Gilbart

Day 3 – With a Good Heart – Ivette Detres

Day 4 – Waking Up – John Freund

Week One – Stories of Simplicity

Day 5 – Just Listen – Frank Sacks

Day 6 – Lifting up Spirit – Larry Huber

Day 7 – Open and Honest – Jack Timlin

Day 8 – Simple Providence  – Frank Sacks

Day 9 – Truthful – Mary Gilbart

Day 10 – Transparency – Thomas McKenna

 

Week Two – Stories of Meekness

Day 11 – Reflect – Katherine Cartegena

Day12 – SIlent Storm  – Al Smith

Day 13 – Open Door – Al Pehrsson

Day 14 – Available – Liz Wilson

Day 15 – Gentle Help – Robert Stone

Day 16 – Approachable – Thomas McKenna

Week Three – Stories of Mortification, Self-discipline

Day 17 – Joyful Sacrifice – Darcy O’Hara

Day 18 – Convinced – Robert Maloney

Day 19 – Sometimes – Lou Trotta

Day 20 – Like Christ – Robert Maloney

Day 21 – The Dirty Work – Darcy O’Hara

Day 22 – Focus – Tom McKenna

Coming Week Four – Humility, Realism

Catching Up on Vincentian Values in Lent – Week Two

St. Vincent de Paul encouraged five particular traits in his comrades: simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. Come discover the stories of these Vincentian Values and how they are alive in the daily experiences of those around us.

Through the 40 days of Lent, a new story will be shared daily. Make it your Lenten challenge to dive into the five Vincentian virtues of simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. See how the everyday practices of being honest, approachable, self-disciplined, realistic and hardworking, in the spirit of St. Vincent, can transform your own life and the lives of others.

The Journey Begins

Day 1 – First Step on the Vincentian Way – Thomas McKenna

Day 2 – In the Vincentian Way – Mary Gilbart

Day 3 – With a Good Heart – Ivette Detres

Day 4 – Waking Up – John Freund

Week One – Stories of Simplicity

Day 5 – Just Listen – Frank Sacks

Day 6 – Lifting up Spirit – Larry Huber

Day 7 – Open and Honest – Jack Timlin

Day 8 – Simple Providence  – Frank Sacks

Day 9 – Truthful – Mary Gilbart

Day 10 – Transparency – Thomas McKenna

 

Week Two – Stories of Meekness

Day 11 – Reflect – Katherine Cartegena

Day12 – SIlent Storm  – Al Smith

Day 13 – Open Door – Al Pehrsson

Day 14 – Available – Liz WIlson

Day 15 – Gentle Help – Robert Stone

Day 16 – Approachable – Thomas McKenna

Coming Week Three – Stories of Mortification, Self-discipline

 

Catching Up on Vincentian Values During Lent – Week One

St. Vincent de Paul encouraged five particular traits in his comrades: simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. Come discover the stories of these virtues and how they are alive in the daily experiences of those around us.

Through the 40 days of Lent, a new story will be shared daily. Make it your Lenten challenge to dive into the five Vincentian virtues of simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. See how the everyday practices of being honest, approachable, self-disciplined, realistic and hardworking, in the spirit of St. Vincent, can transform your own life and the lives of others.

The Journey Begins

First Step on the Vincentian Way – Thomas McKenna

In the Vincentian Way – Mary Gilbart

With a Good Heart – Ivette Detres

Waking Up – John Freund

Week One – Stories of Simplicity

Day 5 Just Listen – Frank Sacks

Day 6 Lifting up Spirit – Larry Huber

Day 7 Open and Honest – Jack Timlin

Day 8 Simple Providence  – Frank Sacks

Day 9 Truthful – Mary Gilbart

Day 10 – Transparency – Thomas McKenna

 

Coming – Week Two – Stories of Meekness

A Lifetime of Waking Up

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

We spend our lifetime waking up!

 I kept thinking I knew

I kept thinking I knew what being a Vincentian meant but then I learned more.

  • In 1959 when I made my first vows
  • In 1965 when I was ordained
  • In 1990 when I celebrated 25th anniversary

Then in 1993 I had a severe automobile accident and I discovered even more. I reached a much deeper level of vows while laying in intensive care for 10 days. For more on that story

Each year I appreciate more the words of an 81-year-old Benedictine monk, Bede Griffith. “ I learned more in the last year and in my previous 80.” He kept waking up to more of reality.

They thought they knew

Vincent de Paul thought he knew what he wanted from life. Events of Chatillon and Follevile woke him up to the reality of spiritual abandonment and physical misery of those on the margins. But the insights of Chatillon and Folleville took him a lifetime to unpack. In his later years, he spoke often of his constant amazement as he unpacked the connection with subsequent events.

Louise de Marillac had hoped to spend her life in a convent but was refused. Then she thought she might find what she was looking for in her marriage and her children. Finally, she woke up to the needs of the world around her and became the principle formator of the generous young peasant women who wanted to serve their less fortunate sisters and brothers.

Frederic Ozanam began using his intellect as a staunch defender of the faith until he was challenged by an atheist. As a result of his exposure to those on the margins as he accompanied Sr. Rosalie on her rounds, he became the champion of the marginalized of his day.

Elizabeth Ann Seton had it all – privilege, security and a loving marriage. She then lost it all but went on to discover the Eucharist. She found so much more and on the way to sanctity, laid the foundations for the Catholic school system and the Daughters of Charity in the United States.

By paying attention they all woke up to so much more than the initially dreamed.

 Lent as a time for waking up.

Too often we think of Lent as a time for giving things up. But it is so much more. Lent is a time for waking up. The root meaning of repent is to change your way of thinking. Put another way… Waking up to the meaning of Mathew 25 “whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters you do unto me”.

I have been giving a lot of thought to waking up as a Vincentian and the meaning of “He has sent me to bring good news to the poor.” I am beginning to realize that St. Vincent left us his own “spiritual exercises”… the five Vincentian virtues. So this Lent I am focusing on waking up with the exercise of Vincent’s way of bringing “good news”.

  • Honest (Simplicity)
  • Approachable (Meekness)
  • Self-disciplined (Mortification)
  • Realistic (Humility)
  • Hard working (Zeal for souls)

The Eastern Province is offering a series of one-minute videos each day of Lent.  In these videos, a wide cross-section of people share their experiences of waking up.

Aids to waking up

  • Sharing the one-minute video of waking up experiences of others.
  • Asking myself what did I learn today.

This post first appeared on Famvin

Change your way of thinking about the bible

Change your way of thinking about the bible 

In another head turner, Pope Francis recently attracted headlines when he challenged people to “consult your bible as often as your iPhones”. If Lent is about changing our way of thinking (repentance) he certainly hit on a radical challenge.

Pope Francis is a master of using the Bible effectively. But four hundred years ago, one of Vincent de Paul’s contemporaries, St. Francis de Sales, called St. Vincent de Paul “a walking gospel.”

As we move deeper into Lent what can we learn from these two great men?

Pope Francis wakes us up to the Bible as a “dangerous book”. 

In any number of places, he reminds us how in some countries people face death for the mere possession of a Bible. “There are more persecuted Christians in the world today than in the early days of the Church. And why are they persecuted? They are persecuted because they wear a cross and bear witness to Jesus. They are convicted because they own a Bible,”

It is clear that the Bible is a dangerous book in another sense. It challenges our way of thinking.

The Pope went on to ask if the Bible can ever be just a piece of literature or a collection of stories, given how many Christians are persecuted for it. He warns against skimming the Bible and not reading it properly. “Read with attention! Do not stay on the surface as if reading a comic book! Never just skim the Word of God!”

He shares his own bible reading habits. “Often I read a little and then put it away and contemplate the Lord. Not that I see the Lord, but he looks at me. He’s there. I let myself look at him. And I feel—this is not sentimentality — I feel deeply the things that the Lord tells me. Sometimes he does not speak. I then feel nothing, only emptiness, emptiness, emptiness…. But I remain patiently, and so I wait, reading and praying.”

“But it does not matter,” he said. “I’m like a son with the father, and that is what is important.”

So maybe we should consult our bibles as much as we consult our mobile phones.

Vincent – “a walking gospel”

In light of St. Francis de Sales description of Vincent it might be surprising to learn that he did not always read the Bible.

In fact, “A critical reading of Vincent’s life reveals that prior to 1617, that is, before he was 36 years old, Vincent did not use the Bible very much and we might suppose that he had little knowledge of it.”

Yet, as he grew older his life became more and more impacted by this dangerous book.

During the year 1617  Vincent experienced events that shaped his life. In January of that year, he discovered the missionary Christ in Folleville. In August of the same year, he found Christ, the servant of the poor in Chatillon.  These two events likewise mark a  new way of seeing the Scriptures. These two biblical texts will become the foundation of his spirituality and ministry.

1) Luke 4:18 ff.: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Vincent used this text eight times to define the mission of Christ and the Congregation. These words would also become the motto of the Congregation.

2) Matthew 25:40: Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me. This text appears in the Rule for the Charities that he wrote and also in the Common Rule of the Congregation.

The second chapter of the Common  Rules for the Missionaries contains  37  New  Testament references in just 14 paragraphs. In his works there are about 400 explicit references to the Gospels and more than 1,000 allusions to Jesus’ life. The Gospel was part of his horizon.

Each day Vincent read from the New Testament and obliged his confreres to do the same: The priests and all the students are to read a chapter of the New Testament, reverencing this book as the norm of Christian holiness. For greater benefit this reading should be done kneeling, with head uncovered, and praying, at least at the end, on these three themes: 1º reverence for the truths contained in the chapter; 2º desire to have the same spirit in which Christ or the saints taught them; 3º determination to put into practice the advice or commands contained in it, as well as the examples of virtue.

One of the elderly missionaries of the Congregation noted that Vincent was very devout during the celebration of Mass, especially during the reading of the Gospel. Others noted that when he found a passage that began with the words: “Amen, amen, I say to you…,” he became more attentive to the words and his voice became more devout: “He seemed to absorb the meaning of the words of the  Sacred Scripture, nurturing his soul with the substance of the text just as a child is nurtured by his mother’s milk. Thus it seemed that all his actions were filled with the spirit of Jesus Christ.”

So maybe reading the bible more often would help us become a walking gospel.

This Lent will we allow the dangerous book, the Bible, into our lives by reading it more frequently?

Will we allow what we read to shape our lives regarding the issues of our day and our lives?

Vincentian Virtues – A Lenten invitation

Simplicity Here is a Lenten invitation – In the liturgy, we recently retold the story of David and the five smooth stones with which he overcame the giant Goliath.

Vincent had his own take on the story and those 5 stones. He called them the virtues that anyone who wished to walk in the way of Vincent should practice. He called them simplicity, humility, meekness, mortification, and zeal.

For the next five Mondays CMEAST will draw on a series of reflections by Fr. Emmet Nolan of the Eastern Province. Each reflection will offer a perspective from Vincent and a series of markers that can serve as guides to how well we live them.

As a beginning, remember that Vincent treasured simplicity. In fact, he called it his gospel.

Listen to how St. Vincent describes simplicity: “Jesus, the Lord, expects us to have the simplicity of a dove. This means giving a straightforward opinion about things in the way we honestly see them, without needless reservations. It also means doing things without any double-dealing or manipulation, our intention being focused solely on God. Each of us, then, should take care to behave always in this spirit of simplicity, remembering that God likes to deal with the simple, and that he conceals the secrets of heaven from the wise and prudent of this world and reveals them to little ones. But while Christ recommends the simplicity of a dove he tells us to have the prudence of a serpent as well. What he means is that we should speak and behave with discretion. We ought, therefore, to keep quiet about matters which should not be made known, especially if they are unsuitable or unlawful … In actual practice this virtue is about choosing the right way to do things.” (CR 11, 4-5.)

Questions

  • Do I always speak the truth?
  • Do I say things as they are or as I want them to be?
  • What causes me to conceal or hide something from another?

Some signs of growth

  • Congruence between word and deed
  • Is transparent – especially in regard to motivation
  • Is honest (truthful)
  • Is single-hearted
  • Can reveal his inner self to others in an appropriate way
  • Has a clear self identity
  • Lives without the clutter of unnecessary concerns and things
  • Is authentic

Some signs for need growth

  • Incongruence between word and deed
  • Manipulates others
  • Has hidden agendas
  • Has a divided heart
  • Is preoccupied with frivolous concerns and things
  • Is perceived by others as a phony and a hypocrite
  • Is confused about his true purpose in life (confused self-identity)

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