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One's Personal Plans vs. God's Plans-- Vincent de Paul's Vocation

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Series by Fr. Rolando Gutiérrez, C.M.

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One's Personal Plans vs. God's Plans-- Vincent de Paul's Vocation

  1. 1. ONE’S PERSONAL PLANS VS. GOD’S PLANS  –  VINCENT DE PAUL’S VOCATION REFLECTION Rolando Gutiérrez, CM Vice-Province of Costa Rica invites us to reflect
  2. 2. A TIME TO UNDERSTAND Jubilee Year on the Occasion of the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism
  3. 3. ONE’S PERSONAL PLANS VS. GOD’S PLANS ・ A TIME TO UNDERSTAND The opportunity to study was not a given among the sons and daughters of the Gascon’s. From the time of his childhood, Vincent had certainly been a fortunate young man. Vincent’s parents viewed his ingenuity as a hopeful sign that would provide future support to the family. Other individuals would appear along the way, persons who would sponsor Vincent; such was the case of M. de Comet (the first protector of the young Vincent) and the Duc d’Epernón (who attempted to advance Vincent in the early years of his priesthood).
  4. 4. If we read Vincent’s early letters that have been handed down to us, we come to understand that Vincent wanted to obtain an ecclesiastical benefice that would enable him to help his family.  On February 17, 1610, he wrote the following moving words to his mother: Mother … it grieves me that I cannot come to render you the services I owe you.  But I have such a trust in God’s grace, that he will bless my efforts and will soon give me the means of an honorable retirement so that I might spend the rest of my days near you …  I should also like my brother to have one of my nephews study. My misfortunes and the little service that I have as yet been able to render at home may make him unwilling to do so, but let him reflect that the present misfortune presupposes good luck in the future (CCD:I: 16).[1] ONE’S PERSONAL PLANS VS. GOD’S PLANS ・ A TIME TO UNDERSTAND
  5. 5. We note that between the years 1600-1617 Vincent channeled all his all youthful energy into the goal of accomplishing his personal plans (an ecclesiastical benefice, an honorable retirement) … understandable and even noble plans when viewed from a merely human point of view, but limited and selfish plans when viewed from the perspective of living in accord with the will of God (a theme that Vincent would frequently preach during his later years). ONE’S PERSONAL PLANS VS. GOD’S PLANS ・ A TIME TO UNDERSTAND
  6. 6. Vincent’s plans would lead him into various unfruitful and unproductive situations: his attempts to be named the pastor of the parish in Tilh, his search for an ecclesiastical career (perhaps, a bishop), his studies in Toulouse followed by his first stay in Rome, his arrival in Paris (1608) and the unfulfilled promises of Pietro Francesco Montorio (CCDD:I:9), his ministry as chaplain to Marguerite de Valois (wife of Henry IV), acquiring  benefice attached to the Abbey of Saint Leonard de Chaumes (May 14, 1610).  We should also mention some of the tragedies that resulted from his desire to achieve: his capture and enslavement (CCD:I: 3-10), the accusation of having stolen money from a judge with whom he shared a room (CCD:XI:305), the crisis of faith that he suffered between 1611 and 1616 when he attempted to help a famous doctor of theology who was also a member of Queen Marguerite’s household. ONE’S PERSONAL PLANS VS. GOD’S PLANS ・ A TIME TO UNDERSTAND
  7. 7. All of those various situations are a stark contrast to the later life of the apostle of the poor who walked through the streets of Paris searching for the abandoned and forgotten members of God’s family, who was a tireless evangelizer as he preached popular missions in the most abandoned areas of France, who organized the confraternities of charity and who was committed to the reform of the clergy. It is clear that 1617 represents a “before” and an “after” in the life of Vincent, a man who pursued his own dreams and the dreams of his family, but found only dissatisfaction and emptiness and unhappiness as he turned his back on God’s plans. ONE’S PERSONAL PLANS VS. GOD’S PLANS ・ A TIME TO UNDERSTAND
  8. 8. Vincent’s process of conversion which became accelerated between the time of his crisis of faith (1610) and the events of Folleville and Chatillon (1617) as well as his journey toward holiness (years of humility, gentleness and apostolic zeal) reveal a shift from living in accord with his own selfish plans which were focused on seeking his own happiness and that of a select few family members to living in accord with a higher plan in which he committed himself to live as a joyful pilgrim in service of those men and women who were in great need:  Let’s seek God alone, and he’ll provide us with friends and with everything else, so much so that we’ll lack nothing. Do you want to know why we won’t be successful in a certain ministry? It’s because we rely on ourselves. This preacher, that Superior, or that confessor relies too much on his own prudence, knowledge, and intelligence. And what does God do? He withdraws from him and leaves him on his own; and even though he works, whatever he does produces no fruit, in order to make him aware of his own uselessness and so that he’ll learn from personal experience that, whatever talent he may have, he can do nothing without God (CCD:XI:31). ONE’S PERSONAL PLANS VS. GOD’S PLANS ・ A TIME TO UNDERSTAND
  9. 9. A TIME TO CONTEMPLATE Jubilee Year on the Occasion of the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism
  10. 10. What happens in our interior movements as we become more and more aware of Vincent’s process of conversion?  What do I see in the person of Vincent before 1617?  Again, what happens in our interior as we reflect on Vincent’s radical option to follow the will of God, and making that option after having tried for so long to realize his own personal dreams? Read Conference #27 (CCD:IX: 206). ONE’S PERSONAL PLANS VS. GOD’S PLANS ・ A TIME TO CONTEMPLATE
  11. 11. A TIME TO MEDITATE Jubilee Year on the Occasion of the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism
  12. 12. During this time of meditation, it would be good to reflect on the following two questions and then share your reflections with other: ‣ What are my personal plans, which are in no way evil or bad, but which do separate me from God’s plan? What am I called to renounce? ‣ How am I to understand God’s plan from the perspective of the Vincentian charism to which I am called? What mission is God inviting me to accept? ONE’S PERSONAL PLANS VS. GOD’S PLANS ・ A TIME TO MEDITATE
  13. 13. A TIME TO COMMIT Jubilee Year on the Occasion of the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism
  14. 14. Lent invites us to engage in the process of conversion in a more intense manner, that is, to engage in the process of clothing ourselves anew in the spirit of Jesus Christ.  Thus, we need to practice fasting, prayer and charity.  [This Lent], we propose that every Vincentian make a firm commitment to prepare for the celebration of Easter through the practice of those spiritual elements (fasting, prayer and charity) that are also part of Vincent’s spirituality: ‣ Fasting: the means to progress in the spiritual life (CCD:X:319); ‣ Prayer, which is as necessary as the air we breathe (CCD:X:459); ‣ Charity, as a match for temptation (CCD:IX: 274). ONE’S PERSONAL PLANS VS. GOD’S PLANS ・ A TIME TO COMMIT
  15. 15. by Rolando Gutiérrez, CM Vice-Province of Costa Rica Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM Eastern Province, USA presentation by

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