Sept. 19, 2021 – The Wisdom of St. Vincent de Paul
Lately, I’ve found that I’ve been taking in the weekly news in smaller and smaller doses. While, as Christians, we certainly have some level of responsibility of being aware of the hurts and ills of the world so we can respond to them, I’ve also found that for me (and from what I’ve observed in some people I’ve ministered to), that being in the cycle of news too much can not be good for a person. It can create a disproportionate amount of anxiety or anger or stress or outrage. It can create a sense of restlessness in the soul.
I’ve found that it’s often better for me to take the news in small, limited doses, and then get away from the technology to be with people. To have community with people, to visit one on one with folks, to have meals, to have coffee, to pray, to go out and love and care for one’s literal neighbor, and be present to the people in one’s community. And of course, to gather and pray with those people too (aka, you all, my parishioners, members of these communities).
In doing so, I’ve found it’s much easier to find and maintain a sense of interior peace. I find affirmation in the wisdom of St. Vincent de Paul, whose feast day is coming up on September 27. He was a priest who gave his love to serve the poor. And while he realized that there were great demands and needs among the poor, as did his fellows who served the poor with him, he realized that he couldn’t solve everything. All he could do is be faithful to God, and strive to love and serve God the best he could, and his neighbor, the poor in his midst. When his fellow workers came to him anxious about all the needs around him, he wrote these words:
“God’s works are not regulated by our plans and wishes. We should be content with making the best of the few talents he has placed in our hands, and not distress ourselves about having more or greater ones. If we are faithful in that which is little, he will place us over that which is great. That, however, must come from him and be the result of our own efforts…
…The spirit of the world is restless and wishes to do everything. Let us leave it to itself. Let us have no desire to choose our own paths, but walk in those which God may be pleased to prescribe for us. Let us regard ourselves as unworthy that he should make use of us, or that others should think of us, and then all will be well with us. Let us offer ourselves to him to do and to suffer all things for his glory and the establishment of his Church. He asks for nothing else. If he desires results, they rest with him and not with us.”
I think there is great wisdom here. We cannot serve the problems and ills of the whole world. And were aren’t meant to. What we can do, is be faithful to God, to love God, to pray, and to love and care for our neighbor and the poor in our communities, right here in Franklin and Hardin Counties. As Jesus said the greatest commandment is this: “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 23:36-40)