On Wednesday of this week (Sept. 27) the Church remembers the life and ministry of St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660). He was born in France into a peasant farmer family and eventually was ordained a priest after years of study. Vincent was instrumental in founding a congregation of women (Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul) and a congregation of men known as the Congregation of the Missions (The Vincentians). These few sentences do not adequately summarize his life and work. For those who seek to know more about this energetic saint, you may want to search the internet using his name as the question topic. If you do this search you will discover that Vincent was what we describe as an “unselfish seeker.”
Vincent at any point in his life could have sat down and said “I’ve had enough; I’ve accomplished all that I need to do.” “Sitters” tend to think and act with this mindset. “Seekers”, on the other hand, say “There’s still more I can BE and DO for myself and others.” This seems to be the thought and mode of action for Vincent. “Sitting down” and waiting and watching for things to happen can be a temptation for all of us. Standing up and seeking life-giving ways to grow that can benefit the common good of all is a more viable and fulfilling option. That was Vincent’s resolve and response. Even for those of us who may be worn out and weary from illness, setbacks, disappointments, and advanced age there is much for us to seek out and savor, many ways for us to give service to others and find satisfaction and ongoing growth for ourselves. For example, developing a more congenial demeanor amidst our sufferings and daily concerns is a continuing challenge we could be seeking to embrace every day of our lives. Or we could seek to be more attentive to those with whom we are speaking. Or we could seek to find more benefits and joys, and serenity in the many tedious and anxious moments with which we are often confronted. These active and positive decisions keep us moving toward a more mature faith-life in the Lord.
I am impressed and inspired by the members of our parish community who continue to thrive through their unselfish ministry and service long after their official retirement from the workplace. I see these women and men, along with their counterparts who are still in the work force engaged in various liturgical and outreach ministries here at Transfiguration Church. I see this in our parish and in parishes where I have previously been assigned. And I was inspired by those dedicated people stepping up to accompany and support their less fortunate brothers and sisters by serving them under the auspices of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. This international society, by the way, was formed by a group of university students in Paris in the year 1833. The energizing force behind this movement was a young student named Frederick Ozanam, now known as Bl. Frederick Ozanam. That energizing force today is composed by parishioners in over 130 countries who continue to have concern and regard for those in their communities who are dealing with misfortunes.
“Seekers” tend to be happy people. Why? For one reason, they are grateful people and want to share their gifts of time and talent with others. Secondly, God made all of us to relate with one another through mutual giving and receiving of the gifts He bestowed on us. Such generous and grace-filled relationships draw us to the completeness we need and the fulfillment we long for. Such relationships draw us out of ourselves and into the realm of our Creator, the world of love.