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Vincentian Lent: A Pilgrimage to the Heart, A Path Made Up of Questions


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by Francisco Vilhena. Source:

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Vincentian Lent: A Pilgrimage to the Heart, A Path Made Up of Questions

  1. 1. Vincentian Lent, a Pilgrimage to the Heart: a Path Made Up of Questions
  2. 2. Fundamental option for the poor 1
  3. 3. Is the option for the poor rooted in all my actions and in all my choices? Does this option fulfill me?
  4. 4. Do I seek the poor, find out where they are, and go to meet them?
  5. 5. Am I looking for a way to justify my lack of real contact with the poor?
  6. 6. Do I try to reflect on the new forms of poverty that exist today and do I minister in accord with the example of Saint Vincent de Paul who, following the spirit of Christ, ministered on the fringes of society of his time?
  7. 7. Are the poorest, the most disadvantaged, the those most in need of hearing Good News my main concern when I make decisions in my life, in my group, in my association, in my congregation?
  8. 8. When I am called to evangelize, do I take refuge in the proclamation of the Good News, relegating to others concrete service? Or, on the contrary, do I focus my ministry on works, taking refuge in MY thousands of activities and forgetting that I am a mere instrument in the hands of God and that everything was given to me to bring people to glorify God (see Matthew 5:16)?
  9. 9. Do I get lost in discussions and endless meetings conversing about power, wealth, and recognition, or do I spend my life serving God in the poor?
  10. 10. Aware of the reality that surrounds me 2
  11. 11. What is my presence in the world around me? Is it a superficial presence or do I commit myself concretely to promoting a more just world, both from a material and value point of view?
  12. 12. Do the world’s problems mobilize me only when they touch me directly?
  13. 13. Do I discuss and study with others how to change the world and people?
  14. 14. Do I implement possible solutions to solve problems the I encounter?
  15. 15. Do I evaluate my attitudes and embrace new answers, if necessary?
  16. 16. Do I commit myself to defending human rights, working directly with associations or movements that promote peace and justice?
  17. 17. At the school of the poor 3
  18. 18. Are the poor a true and constant school of evangelization for me or have I missed some lessons?
  19. 19. Are the poor an artificial and relative reality, so no one is poor enough to make me “get off the couch”? Or can I find forms of poverty in all people that justify my “constant work” with the poor?
  20. 20. Do I live poverty? To offer better help, to understand them better, I have to experience their difficulties. How can I endure the conditions of the poor?
  21. 21. Do I accept the conditions of the mission that I am involved in? Do I adapt to the place where I am, using the means at my disposal?
  22. 22. Do I live like those I serve in order to help them, or do I shock (perhaps even scandalize) others by my way of life?
  23. 23. Do the groups, movements, parishes, associations of which I am a member, and who call themselves Vincentians, have the poor at their center as their charism?
  24. 24. Do I recognize myself as poor before God by offering God my whole life, the life of all those I serve and the lives of all those who have no one to pray for them or to be close to them?
  25. 25. “The Lord ... sent them out two by two” (cf. Mark 6:7) 4
  26. 26. What I do, do I do it in the name of the poor, as my mission, or do I do everything in the name of my community or my group?
  27. 27. What do others know about the mission I carry out? How much do I care about the work of my “fellow travelers”?
  28. 28. Saint Vincent always thought about teamwork in community; what is my attitude in this regard? Do I hinder the effort of those with whom I have to work? Do I build bridges with others or do I build walls so that everything I do has only one protagonist: myself?
  29. 29. Do I present myself with a constructive attitude, continually discovering and learning, like a sponge that absorbs everything to be useful to others, or do I find myself always closed, full of certainties, uncompromising towards opinions different from mine, like an impenetrable stone that often is cast aside?
  30. 30. Do I encourage dialogue, criticism, participation in decisions, sharing responsibilities?
  31. 31. When I am in charge of a group or community, do I try to develop and promote the qualities of every member? Do I promote their spiritual growth and help them dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ, or do I exercise my authority relentlessly, monopolizing all activities and limiting individual responsibilities, thus making all ‘hostages’ of my presence/decision and fearful of standing on their own feet?
  32. 32. “I belong neither here nor there, but wherever God wants me to be” (CCDIX, 10) 5
  33. 33. Am I the face and soul of the work I do, or do I allow Christ to take his rightful place in my ministry?
  34. 34. Am I a detached and free person, or do I perform the tasks entrusted to me and try to keep my position forever?
  35. 35. Am I an available or unavailable person?
  36. 36. Saint Vincent asked the sisters to have for monastery only the houses of the sick; for cell, a hired room; for chapel, the parish church; for cloister, the streets of the city (cf. CCD:X:530). What would Saint Vincent say to me?
  37. 37. Would he say that I have it made? Would he say that I look for an easy life, that I am entrenched in existing and predefined structures? Would he say that I try always to act in the same way because ‘it always has been done this way’?
  38. 38. Would he say that I do not want any change in my group, because the youngest ones do not understand me, do not respect me, do not know how to do things well?
  39. 39. Would he say that I do not want to let go of the responsibilities that have been entrusted to me for years?
  40. 40. Would he say that I do not want to change groups, when I am no longer at ease? Would he say I do not want to change communities, because my family or my friends are there?
  41. 41. Do I live for my ‘little chapel’ or do I really live for the mission of Christ?
  42. 42. Do I try to reflect on the future and contribute to the universal growth of the mission, adapting and seeing changes as an opportunity to keep the flame of the Vincentian charism alive? Or, on the contrary, do I lose myself in struggles and schemes to keep myself where I want?
  43. 43. Do I try to take control over what is better left to Providence?
  44. 44. Conversion: a way of life! 6
  45. 45. What is my relationship with God? How is my conversion journey: am I at a standstill?
  46. 46. “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2). How can I deepen my configuration to Christ?
  47. 47. How do I follow the example of Saint Vincent de Paul? Do I deepen my passion to imitate the Saint of Charity?
  48. 48. How often do I allow myself to be seduced and encouraged by the words of Saint Vincent? How can I follow his example, as a disciple of Christ, without making every effort to learn more about his thinking?
  49. 49. If I do not allow Jesus to shine through me, if the flame of my charism lacks fuel, how can I attract others to the beauty of this journey?
  50. 50. Francisco Vilhena Portuguese Province Source: